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Disrespectful in the stall

Hello Franklin,

I own a 7 year old quarter horse gelding. He did not get gelded until he was 3 or 4 and he does not act studdy at all. When I go into his pen, if he has food or grain, or you try to adjust his blanket, or walk up to him when you're cleaning his pen, he'll pin his ears back and whip around and put his back end in your face. Sometimes he won't turn around he'll just pin his ears back but overall he is a sweet, laid-back, amazing horse! He has the best personality and would let you do anything to him. Why is he doing this and how can I stop this?

Lacey L.

Hi Lacey,

As a stall is a very small space and your horse sounds a bit protective of his food and personal boundaries, I suggest you become more of his trusted leader even when in his stall. You can do this by gently ‘hazing’ him either in a small circle within the stall or back and forth along the back wall of the stall. This is done safely from enough distance that you are not within range of a possible kick. Use a tool like a flag (small piece of plastic bag affixed to the end of a dressage whip), or a rope or dressage whip in your hand, to quietly, gently and judiciously ask the horse to move its feet. Reward the horse immediately after it moves only several steps. The big reward is to remove all pressure (bring the tool down), stop asking for anything and offer a bit of total peace and perhaps a Good Boy. Wait 30 seconds and ask it again to move a few steps. When you reward the horse by removing all pressure it may face you and perhaps begin to lick and chew. Both are good. I think the reason he does this is to show you he is in charge of his food (being protective) and of his space (protective of his space). I suggest becoming more of his great and trusted leader by asking for movement and rewarding every few steps. One-step-at-a-time/reward training is effective, efficient and most often overlooked as we humans tend to ask for too much, too fast and too loudly of our horses. Also, we forget to reward all effort by removal of all pressure.

Remember the most important thing to a horse are its feelings of safety. Safety=Peace=Trust. Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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