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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Changing Unwanted Horse Behavior

I bought a horse 8 weeks ago. Within days of bringing her home her behavior has become dangerous. Using the same trailer she now refuses to get in, she will rear completely straight up just about flipping herself over. We did get her in but as my husband was comming out escape door she reared and jumped through it herself. I would not believe had I not seen it. Also putting her bridle on is very traumatic for both of us. Again pops staight up as soon as you touch her right ear. I have had other people with more experienced to help but we are getting no where. She is very pretty and is great under saddle but I am becoming afraid of her on the ground. I cannot sell her without fixing things. I wouldn't have to if I can get us to communicate.


You are your horse are speaking a different language. Its like she is speaking French and you are speaking German. She is afraid but you do not know her language enough to help her come back to trust. Your horse is not 'bad' at all. It is simply and profoundly terrified. This sort of fear comes from there not being an appropriate leader around for the horse. Nobody is speaking her language. You'd be terrified too. She knows your lack of skill and confidence and this makes her more afraid. If someone tries to 'make' her do something, that makes her more afraid. She may have some abuse in her past, which would compound the situation making her very certain humans are not to be trusted. If she were mine I would re-start the horse from the basics. I would do a lot of ground schooling to get her soft and compliant (trusting me) on the ground. This can be done through simple activity like leading, stopping, turning, lunging and backing. These simple exercises done repeatedly over a bit of time, help set up a pattern of request made appropriately, the horse tries and then gets a bit of rest and a Good Girl. Forget trying anything big like the trailer. You need to go way back to the beginnning. Desensitizing the horse to being touched anywhere (head and ears) is very important. The basics of good horsemanship repeated for a while with this horse is the best, quickest and most lasting remedy to your problem. Don't try to push the horse into where it is afraid. Develop trust first by doing simple things repeatedly over some time and having the horse get used to a successful interaction with you. This will build confidence in both of you. You do not need to always halter your horse to work with it. There is something called 'at liberty' training where the horse is barely touched, but develops trust quickly with a human.

Obviously, I cannot give you this in an email. I have some DVD's and tapes within the 'shopping corral' of my website. There are several there that would help you a lot. Please have a look. You can do liberty training in a paddock. If you had a round pen, that would be nice. However, it is not required. Consider having a visual aid you can watch to give you some technique and principles to work off of.

Sincerely, Franklin

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