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bolting at the turnout gate


I have an 11 year old Morgan gelding. I have had him for about 14-15 months. Very sweet disposition. But very smart, and has a mind of his own. About every few months, I feel that he is testing me. I will be distracted opening the turnout gate, and he will pivot around and run. He never runs far, and always lets me walk up to him. He is very passive, and will avoid a clash with the alpha male every time. Tonight I could not get the alpha horse away from the gate, and twice my horse bolted away from the gate. I am not sure how to handle this problem. He is spoiled. I do let him graze on the way to the turnout. And he is the kind of guy that definitely holds a grudge.

Thank you, Becky

Hi Becky,

First off, horses do not hold grudges. Please do not anthropormorphize so much. Horse's minds do not work the same way people's do. He is supposed to have a mind of his own. I cannot imagine him having someone elses mind. Whose mind should he have? Please do not fault the horse for being what he is...........a HORSE.

You need to be able to keep your horse engaged with you while you open and close the gate. You also need to keep your horse engaged with you when shooing away the alpha horse. Try keep your horse a bit closer to you. Develope better pariphial vision. Keep an eye on your horse as much as you possibly can. DO NOT allow your horse to eat when leading him somewhere. That is when he should be paying attention to you and not eating. If he dives into the grass, snake the leadrope back and forth under his chin and say "QUIT!" His head will quickly come up. NOTICE I AM NOT SAYING TO JERK HIS HEAD UP, PULL ON HIM NOR HIT HIM IN ANY WAY! I AM SAYING FOR YOU TO SNAKE THE LEADROPE UNDER HIS CHIN AND DO IT SHARPLY ALONG WITH THE VERBAL CUE TO QUIT! When he tries to eat again, do the process again, and again and again. Even if he looks like he is thinking about, looking for a chance to lower his head, simply snake that rope under his chin and emphatically say "QUIT!" If you are consistent with this the horse will not eat unless you consciously allow it. I would NOT allow it when he is in halter with you (unless you are hanging out and want to allow it). It is your responsibility to always be the leader of the dance. This should be the case every second and instant and moment you are with your horse. To not do this is to ignore your horse and dis-engage from him and lose his attention. Horses naturally test their leader regularly (daily) saying "are you still able to lead?" This is part of how they survive in the wild and in domestic life and is to be expected. If no leader is present, they do as they feel they must to assure their feelings of safety and survival. Cut the horse more slack and give it more credit. Step up to the leadership plate more yourself. You must rise to the horse. You are at this time forcing him to come down to your level of attention and expertise as it's leader which is prompting him to fend for himself. This is at the core of your situation.

You might consider more education about horses. The fastest, most economical and efficient way to get the education and information you need is to buy a training DVD or two. Education about horses seems to be what is lacking here. You are projecting on to your horse inappropriate perception about his motives. Good training DVD's are found in all horse magazines. I have several in my shopping corral of my website that would prove very valuable to you. But, no matter whose DVD's you get, get some. It will open your eyes to who that horse really is, how he thinks, what his needs and desires are at a psychological level, which you don't sem to have much knowledge of. Remember, your horse is totally innocent. He will give back to you only as good as you give to him by way of good and appropriate leadership. Please keep me posted.

Best regards, Franklin

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