|Simple Steps To Gain Respect From Your Horse
Horses understand only two roles- they are either the leader and you are the follower or you are the leader and they are the follower – there is no in between existence for a horse. You must also realize that they will continue to slide down the ladder of respect towards humans the less their issues are addressed correctly. You MUST spend time asserting yourself as the herd boss or what once was just a nudge into your space can turn into a nip or worse an open mouth barreling down on you.
I think it is important to note that fear of such a large animal that could ultimately inflict serious damage to your body is natural and understandable. But as you learn more about the way horses communicate within the herd you will learn to turn your fear into a “healthy respect”. Fear in the horse world will actually get you hurt faster than anything else. As you learn and educate yourself about the “whys” and “hows” of dominance, it in itself, will give you the confidence to be able to predict what a horse is going to do or at least understand why a horse is doing something. And as we all know knowledge is power!
To interact with a horse in a humane and productive way a few basic guidelines must be followed to ensure that problem behavior does not either form or increase due to our human actions.
PROTECT YOUR SPACE:
As the leader you will expect that your horse will respect your space as if it's life depended on it. Your space is not to be invaded. If you are being pulled around, ran over, bumped into, bitten or kicked at your horse has no respect whatsoever for you and believes itself to be the boss. The space that surrounds your body is step 1 in gaining control over your horse. Do not under any circumstances reward a horse that is invading that space with treats, affection, or showing it fear as this will only encourage and amplify the bad behavior. Make your horse understand that you mean business by protecting your domain.
Once that space has been respected you will start to be able to make the horse move out of your space with very little effort. In the horse world whoever is making others move is the boss. The more you move your horse, the more respect they gain for you. Use a lunge line or a round pen if you have one and move, move, move that horses feet while you stand as still as possible through the aid of a lunge whip. You do not need to ever even hit the horse with the whip, cracking it will suffice in most circumstances! Cut them off and reverse the movement, they are watching you and listening for direction and all the while your confidence will be growing as will their respect for you!
REWARDING & CORRECTING CORRECTLY:
You have about 3 seconds to either correct or reward behavior. That is it and the sooner the better. The horse will have no clue that it has done something either good or bad if you wait any longer than that. NEVER CORRECT OUT OF ANGER this will lead to abuse. Let the corrections be equal in value to the offense. A tug on the lead downward sharply, a tap to the nose when being nipped, do as little as possible first and then amplify the level depending on the horses response. Rewarding a horse is also important and should NEVER be overdone or misused. Do not bribe a horse to come to you. Do not reward a pushy horse who is knocking you down for treats. Do reward them with pats to the shoulder or a scratch on the noggin but make sure during rewarding they are respecting your space. Many horses have developed bad respect issues because they were rewarded for being pushy while being treated to snacks.
INTERACT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE:
Spend as much time as you can working and playing with your horse every chance you get and make them respect you each and every time. I can't stress that enough. The more they get handled and corrected for bad behavior the easier it gets to be around them and the more pleasant they become. A horse learns through repetition, the more they practice being well mannered the more easily it becomes.
If you are afraid of your horse I encourage you to carry a crop in your hand. This is not to beat your horse with, this is to give you a little more confidence, something to protect yourself with. The truth is you will probably never even need to hit the horse with it. It is much like the woman who carries a can of mace in her purse in case she is mugged, chances are she will never use it, but she knows it is there in case she should have too and she can walk to her car with a little more confidence than if she were unarmed. Horses have a very acute sense of sizing up a person and detecting the slightest bit of fear.. Have a helper share in your horse endeavors if it makes you feel more relaxed. After awhile you will come to understand horses shouldn't be feared.
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