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Franklin Levinson's

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Absolute fear

Hi Franklin,

I have recently just stumbled upon your website. I love your method of thinking. I have always believed in very similar methods. But...I am stumped. I recently purchased a horse that was supposedly "child safe....beginner friendly trail horse". Well, he is just "ok" on the trail. He is jumpy but at least he doesn't leave. He spooks in place.

I have only owned him a short while but where it gets complicated is that this horse is HYPER Sensitive to any reprimand. I ride him and he does ok. When I say that, I mean that he tries but then sometimes he gets a little demanding. He demands to go faster, throw his head, act as if he is going to, mind you....he has NEVER bucked or reared. So, I use verbal reprimand and he seems to respond to it part of the time. So, I decided to give him a short light jerk on the halter and firmly said quit. He just about flew backwards across the county, flung his head high in the air, the whites of his eyes just about popped out and he began to tremble.

I got him calmed down and let him know that he was ok. How can I reprimand him...even in the slightest way if he is going to freak out. I understand positive reinforcement...I use that all the time..but when push comes to shove.. I can not just let him take advantage of situations. Blade and I could really benefit from any advice you can offer at this point. If he goes back to his previous owner....she will ship him off to slaughter. He is such a wonderful horse. I can "feel" him when I am in his presence. Weird huh?! He is a strong commicator, intense, smart...yet scared to death. He is not necessarily afraid of his surrounds as much as he is afraid of people when they say.."NO". I will never raise a hand to hit him but I do push him out of the herd of me and my other horse when he doesn't behave appropriately. I just use gestures and he picked up on them almost right away...he is very responsive and wants so much to be with me. I am sorry.. I will quit babbling.. I just know that this horse is right for me...I am just want to be right for him.


Hi Deanna,

To get your horse's attention back on you it is a good thing to try to provide a consequence of movement (work) for the unwanted behavior. A good movement to ask for is a turn on the forehand, several rotations and in both directions. This movement needs to be practiced beforehand so both you and the horse are very comfortable with it and the horse does this willingly, smoothly and with ease (you too). Thus, the moment your horse does exhibits a tendency to do anything you would prefer he not do, put him to work (any movement is work to a horse) for a minute or two. Try to do this calmly and to not get afraid as you will tense up and that works against you and the horse. After several rotations, provide a very brief rest at the stop and ask again to move forward at your desired pace. If the behavior (distraction of his attention) continues, repeat the process (over and over). As soon as the horse really gets it and does put his attention calmly back on you. Go back home and put him away as the biggest reward you can provide for compliance. This wasy the horse will be really glad to see you the next day and begin to learn more how to be confident, trusting of you and overall in a better place.....Let me know how it goes....Only positive reprimand...good and appropriate consequences and lots of reward...Let me know how it all goes after you have done this for a few weeks.....

Aloha from Greece, Franklin

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