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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Explosive horse

Hi Franklin,

I came across your website and have been reading it now for hours, wishing you would be available to us here. We have lots of so-called 'horse whisperers' around, but it is very difficult to know who to trust. They all have their own, very big egos which is very off-putting for me. Anyway, maybe you could send me some tips via email. I would be thrilled!

I have been riding for over 30 years and have owned several horses in my life. Only in the last few, however, have I turned to natural horsemanship, after buying a thoroughbred mare, 4 years old, with a huge amount of self-confidence problems. I turned to a Parelli instructor who sent me on the right path and we had some great fun together learning until she went through some fences. So I bought a 3-year old warmblood filly. I did some groundwork with her at home and it became very obvious that she had been pushing humans around all her life. I found out that she was bottle fed the first three days of her life (she slid under the fence during birth and was very weak once found) and that her previous owners didn't handle her much at all, leaving her alone in a paddock without other horses to socialize with. So she is now very pushy, at times even aggressive. However, she has stopped her aggressiveness towards me and seems to enjoy our times together. I sent her to a natural trainer to be started gently and he did a great job. But, after coming home, she started losing weight and I had to get the vet out because her condition was very poor after a few weeks at home. She also didn't want to trot in the roundyard or under saddle. The vet diagnosed ulcers and she was treated for 2 months successfully. She has, in fact, become a different horse. Her levels of energy are amazing.

My problem with her started when we get to our arena or the roundyard where she spooks frequently. But the worst is that she can explode suddenly into your space and change from being very calm with me to totally losing it and bucking off (too close for comfort). She is a very powerful horse and I feel that if I become too assertive, she will lose her spirit. yet, I do have to teach her to stay with me, if only so that we can stay safe together. While being led she can suddenly grow several hands, with tail in the air, snorting and prancing and if I try to move her away from me, she pushes into me even more.

Sorry, this is getting too long, I know and you are probably tired of reading all these emails. Anyway, she is a lovely, spunky filly with heaps of potential. We have come a long way but her behavior is a little much at times. I try to stay calm and circle her, but she gets really close. So most often, I back her away from me with the shaking rope which works. But it doesn't calm her.

If you have suggestions, that would be great! she is absolutely not afraid of the plastic bag scenario, tarpaulins or anything I show her. I think its all show and feeling good, but I need to show her that there are guidelines.

Thanks so much for ansering my email. I truly appeciate your input. Your approach resonates with what looking for in a trainer and I wish I could attend your clinic one day!

Best wishes,
Michal (and lively friend)

Hi Michal,

A technique I use with a lot of success to put a horse's attention back on me no matter what is happening is to put the horse to doing hind-quarter yields when it does something or signals it is about to do something I do not want. I face the horse's butt, stand close to the hip and I 'bend' the horse by bringing its head tightly to the side I am standing on and give tugs on the lead thus asking it to move its hind end away from me. The horse pivots on the forehand and moves the hind end away by crossing one leg in front of the other. It is not a steady pull on the lead rope but rather tugs. Firm tugs until the horse gets very compliant and easy with the move. I do this in both directions, 3-4 rotations and then put a stop on the horse with a HO! If there is any movement I do not want, I continue and repeat the process as much as needed until the horse is happy to just stand quietly. I practice this with a horse before I really need to use it so the horse gets used to the movement and is easy about it. This can be done from the saddle or on the ground. From the saddle it is a standard dressage move. It is not severe nor abusive to the horse. It is work pure and simple. It is also safe for the handler as the horse cannot bite, kick, rear, strike, run off or do anything else other than this movement when it is asked for correctly. The technique is shown on most all of my DVD's. It is helpful to see it. Do it slowly at first so as to not scare the horse and gradually up the pressure just a bit to get immediate and unmistakable response once the move is learned well. It will put the horse's attention back on you, no matter what else is going on.

Good Luck...Sincerely, Franklin

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