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This is a continuation of a series of Articles.
Horse Training - Communication
By Beverly Whittington
|There are many ways to loose the horse's respect! There are two ways
to win the respect of a horse.
The respect achieved by establishing a leadership position with the horse or a respect born of fear.
Handlers who establish leadership through firm and kind rules, establish a bond with their horse based on trust and comfort.
So how to handle misbehavior in the horse?
If the horse is misbehaving through fear or pain, what good does it do to punish him or her? If it is a conditioned reaction through previous poor training or instinctual response, then punishment will not solve the problem. It is one of those situations, you have to CORRECT, not discipline.
How many times have you seen a horse dancing around at the end of a lead line while the handler is shouting for him to be still? The more that handler shouts and yanks, the more agitated and non cooperative the horse becomes! If this is a fear response from the horse you can be setting yourself up for a real blow up! The horse is restrained, he is unable to follow his instinct for flight, and so his next base survival instinct is about to kick in -- fight. The handler who recognizes this will allow the horse to move it's feet as it's instincts dictate and softly reassure the horse, calming the horse down enough so it can listen and respond to the trainer.
To successfully correct a horse the handler must first be in control of himself or herself. You must have a calm, focused attitude to control any horse. A good trainer has the discipline to control their emotions and ego. The difference between correction, discipline and punishment is attitude. You must not react to your horse's actions with anger. React because you want to show him the right way to respond. A horse who ignores the handler has not learned to respect the handler enough to look to him for leadership. Sometimes this is because the horse has not emotionally bonded with the handler.
“All research considering emotionality draws the same conclusion
- horses are very emotional animals and it can negatively affect their
Horses are herd animals and they need company to be psychologically healthy. Generally horses that are allowed time to socialize in a herd are more likely to be well behaved and to learn well during training. But the horses that are kept alone develop a dependency on the handler that can be very useful, if used with judiciousness. Deprived of the company of other horses, they will form strong bonds with the person handling them. This is something that you can use to overcome a behavior problem in a horse. First off you need to understand that I AM NOT suggesting complete isolation for extended periods of time. That is a form of cruelty, as the horse needs the social interaction of the herd.
Stalling a horse during this period will keep him without the social interaction he craves. If possible take the horse directly from the stall to a round pen, or small enclosure where he cannot see other horses. You want to use the ground zones to drive the horse around the area, speed is not what you are looking for here, movement is. A walk or slow gait speed is fine. A gallop is unnecessary!
Remember the Ground zones of a horse include distance and angle of approach.
If the dominant horse approaches from the rear, the yielding horse will
most often move off forward. Approach from the front would have caused
the horse to turn away, or back up.
Give the horse at least an hour of time back in his stall while you find something else to do within his sight if possible. Clean your tack, sweep the barn aisle, sit on a bale of hay in front of his stall and read a book. Just remain close and ignore him. After the hour has passed, repeat the same procedure described above.
It will not take long in most instances where the horse will look forward to your visits and seek to please you in his responses. Remember to reward him for all good behavior; this is a motivation for him to repeat the behavior that brought on the reward to begin with. You can use food treats, but do not do so all the time, a good scratch should suffice in most instances.
Get a good book, one of those plastic chairs, some snacks for yourself and your horse and a soft drink. Release your horse in the enclosure you had him in yesterday, let him play for a few minutes then set up your chair, sit down and read. IGNORE the horse (Or at least appear to). Open your soft drink and begin to read out loud. Occasionally insert your horse's name between sentences.
You should have the horse’s attention, he is keeping his distance, but keeping an eye on you. You want to keep his attention on you, without letting on that you are observing him. Before long the horse will work his way up to you. His curiosity will get the better of him, he will have to know what you are doing. Casually offer him a treat. If he refuses, just go on reading. When he extends his nose again to investigate offer the treat again. He will soon take it. When he does, just go back to reading out loud. When he asks for another treat, give him a scratch on the neck or forehead and continue reading. Continue alternating between scratching and treating until you run out of treats. If the horse becomes too demanding, stand up and shoo him off, he won’t go far, you still have the treats!
When you are out of treats, just get up and leave, in many instances the horse will follow you. Just ignore him and leave the enclosure. Give him the hour alone again, once again working within his range of vision if possible. When you do return to the enclosure, give him lots of attention, scratching and rubbing him all over, and then return him to his stall.
You want to continue to re-do days 1 and 2 as often as permissible in your schedule, until the horse has begun to accept you as the leader. You should begin to have a horse that greets you eagerly and is interested in what you are doing.
Once you have the horse emotionally bonded to you, begin directing your full attention to any behavior problems that you have been experiencing. Progress should be improved, for now you have a horse that is interested in participating, and is willing to accept your position as “boss mare”.
Once the leadership role and emotional bond is in place, you can begin
turning the horse out with other horses again. You want to occasionally
repeat the day one and two steps, to keep the experiences and the emotional
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