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Bossy TB Gelding

Hi Franklin,

I currently have been leasing a 8yo TB gelding for one year. We make a great hunter pair in competition and have come a long way in training, but the owner is a small lady who has let him get away with anything and everything. I have been starting to train dressage and he throws fits if he doesn't want to work. He is 17.0 hands and will use his body to push me around when we try to load into the trailer or doesn't want to go into the wash stall. To load him into the trailer we have tried everything but he still does not go in. He has been so spoiled by the owner and I am trying to fix it by teaching him I am the boss and that he should listen to me. Do you have any suggestions?

I have heard of dropping a horse to its knees but I don't know how to do it.

Thank you, Nicole

Hi Nicole,

Gently laying a horse down (not "dropping the horse") is a wonderful practice and should only be attempted by those who know the technique and are experienced at it. Not a lot of horsepeople really know it. I don't think your horse needs that at this time. Sounds like a good program of ground play will do the trick. You have only told me of your riding the horse, that you win and your wash rack experience and loading problems. That is not much ground play with the horse and sounds like you only do something on the ground as a task for him. Perhaps you do a little longeing to warm him up, but you have not said so. Your relationship with any horse is formed first and foremost on the ground. Your riding sounds great. But I know so many great riders, who win and actually know very little about the horse itself. Your problems stem from your not knowing much about behavioral aspects of equines. It is not about showing the horse who is boss. It is not about dominance or control either (surprise huh?). It is solely and only about leadership, trust, respect, guidance and patience. You do not have this horse's trust. If you did he would go anywhere on the ground you say and stick to you like glue. He may trust you often enough when you ride him to jump for you. But this is only a small part of your potential relationship with this horse. It is mostly done on the ground actually. He does not have the relationship with you to do as you request more often because of a lack of trusted leadership. The reason he is not compliant at any one time is escaping you and not because he is stubborn or willful. He has had no real leadership except for some from the saddle. This is not about being the boss and 'making' anything happen. There is something you are not seeing or overlooking, like a relationship based upon deep trust and respect.

Do you have a round pen to play in? It is a great tool for training horses and developing a trusting relationship and bond. You are not his boss. You are his great leader. You need to earn his trust and respect as any great leader does with those who follow him/her. The question becomes; how do you earn the trust and respect of a horse? Do you know? I have written extensively about this question and these answers are easily viewed in the archives of my website (type 'trust and respect' in the search feature) and in the articles/essay section of the website. Please take a look at those essays and Q & A's. There are also many Q & A's that address trailer loading as well. As I write for the website daily, I try not to keep retyping and retyping topics already covered extensively. The process for loading a difficult horse is the same for asking him to go onto a washrack. One thing I detect is your desire to have the problem resolved quickly. There is no quick fix for horses. There is nothing that will replace skill, timing, patience and compassion. It is most often not about the horse, but rather the human and the human's agenda. Please consider having the horse's trust of you become the big agenda and not that he accept you as his boss (which you will never be and are not supposed to be) or load or go onto a wash rack. These are all trust issues. You are supposed to partner with a horse and lead the dance so to speak. These words may rub you the wrong way. But you do this when riding a lot. These words do go against the typical thinking of 'show him who is the boss and control him'. How do you feel if someone tries to show you who is the boss and control you? Why should it be so different for the horse? They are not our slaves to be dominated and subverted. They are our wards, our partners, our companions and friends. They deserve our respect, kindness, expertise and to never be shortchanged by our personal agendas, opinions and prejudices. I think a question for you to consider is do I really want to step up to the plate and become the real leader for this horse and am I willing to 'walk the talk'? It takes time, practice, knowledge, experience and desire. Or do you just want to ride and win (if you can get him to the show)? If you want to 'lead', let me know and I would be delighted to help. However, it will take a bit of time away from your riding practices. It is wonderful to be a great, winning rider of any diciplin. Would you like to become a great horseperson as well? If you combine great equestrian (riding) skills with excellent horsemanship (training skills) you will win more, have a bigger life with horses, make good money with horses (if you want a career with it) and help all horses and humans in the process. Please consider the potential for yourself and those you contact both two and four legged.

Thanks for your question and I hope I have not put you off my my response.

Sincerely, Franklin

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