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Arguing with horses


My name is Jen and I have a 10-year-old Arabian. He and I are very close and we constantly fight and argue like brother and sister. I was wondering if maybe I should do more on the ground horsemanship with him and make sure he knows that he is OK with me. I never move fast so it scares him or anything. I dont know if maybe I should just be more calm with him or just when I ride him go at a slower pace. What should I do?

Thanks, Jen

Hi Jen,

Do you like to fight and argue with your horse? If you have brothers and sisters, do you fight and argue with them a lot? Fighting and arguing is not something horses do amongst each other in the wild (natually). This tells me your are not being as good a leader for your horse as you could be (or as compassionate). If you were, there would be no fighting or arguing as you would know that your horse is always like an innocent child and only afraid. It seems you assume your horse is doing something wrong, something you need to argue with it about. If your horse is resistant to something you are requesting (and I hope you are requesting it correctly and appropriately first of all) that means it is afraid pure and simple. If you were afraid of something how would you want a friend or your parents to handle that with you? Would you want them to fight and argue with you bcause you were afraid and resistant to complying with their request? Or, would you want them to take their time and show (teach) you there is nothing to be afraid of?

It would be terrific for you to do more gound playing with your horse. Good relationships with horses are formed first and foremost on the ground.

Riding should be the icing on the cake of your relationship and the last thing that you do after you have already got a great, trusting and respectful relationship on the ground. Get great at directing the movements and actions of your horse on the ground. This will translate into successful equestrian endeavours (riding fun) with your horse. Once you can direct his movement and action on the ground, you will be much better at it when you ride and your horse will have more confidence (trust) in you. Being calm always is the way to be (even in high speed events like barrel racing) with your horse. You horse knows and reacts when you are upset by getting more afraid and upset himself. Never let your anger come out towards a horse. That would be the most unkind and unfair thing you could do to your horse. Your horse can make a mistake (or mistakes), just like you. Mistakes do not deserve anger. They deserve compassion first and then education to help the individual make better choices for themselves next time. That rule applies to horses as well. When a horse does what I do not want (anything), I take it as a mistake in the horse's thinking. I then figure a way to make that behavior difficult for the horse to do. For instance, if he kicks, that is a mistake he makes because he is afraid and thinks he needs to kick to protect himself and survive. I make kicking hard for the horse to do by putting him to motion or action. Something like going around me in circles (longeing) or hind-quarter yielding is an action (work) I put a horse to do as an immediate consequence for unwanted behavior. As soon as the horse complies with what I do want, I reward it with a very short rest or break in the action and a little praise. Within a few moments the horse will lick and chew (a show of compliance) and lower its head. This is a display the horse is doing to show me he is being compliant and trusting of me.

Thanks for your question. Let me know how it goes......

Sincerely, Franklin

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