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Hostile horse

One of my horses is hostile towards me and always tries to find opportunity to attack me. It is of course also my fault, since I haven't come near her for 2 months and never really spent time with her because she was the cause that I lost my favourite horse. It's been 7 months now but she has not forgotten the incident, although I have tried to get along with her. I have not hit her or in any way mistreated her, only in the beginning I was shouting at her and afterwards I simply ignored her. But only with me she is very mean, while with others she allows them to ride her and get close to her. Please let me know how to behave when she attacks.


First off, a horse that seems hostile and mean is really showing its 'fear' and distrust. We think that a horse is being mean if it comes at us aggressively. It is actually showing it is very fearful and trying to get you to stay away or to 'get' you before you hurt it. The horse is trying to survive and should not be blamed for this behavior which is normal and probably was prompted by some sort of fearful situation. Your shouting at the horse and the attitude and feelings the horse picked up from you are, as you have noted, probably caused the behavior. I really don't think she is being 'mean'. She is still afraid of you and this is why she is charging you.

Horses look for and need great leadership, not control. A horse will partner very well with a human if their relationship is based on mutual trust and respect and the human knows how to show up as the real leader and not just a bully (horses that seem aggressive to other horses are not the leaders, they are the bullies). The true leaders of the herd are not aggressive to the other horses, they are smarter. They lead and the other horses know they better follow to survive. There is never coersion. A leader becomes the leader partly by simply being able to control territory and food. It is not about dominence. As with any realtionship, this can take time, intention and effort. I would simply wave the horse off or fend it off if it comes at you. I would not make a big deal of it, only fend the horse off. Try not to hold a grudge against this horse, as the horse will know it and respond accordingly. I would hang in the vacinity of the horse without approaching too close. Just 'be there' with the intention of gaining the horse's trust. You do not need to do anything at this point, only hang out near the horse (a comfortable distance dictated by the horse). Let the horse decide how close you should get. All you have to do for now is to keep yourself safe. If you hang in the vacinity of the horse without approaching too close or having an agenda of doing something with the horse, the horse will come to relax with you around. That is the immediate goal.

The horse will know if your are afraid and that knowledge will make you seem vulnerable. If you can at least be confident that you can fend the horse off should you need to and not hold any negative emotion about the horse, it will come to relax around you. Fend the horse off with the least amount of effort and noise on your part as possible. Once the horse moves off, immediately stop fending (stop all movement and any noise projected) the horse off and you move back a few steps. Do not aggress the horse or approach at all for now. At some point, when the horse knows you are not a threat and relaxes with you in its vacinity, you can begin to very gently ask the horse to move off of the territory (spot) it is on. When the horse moves a few steps away, you back off a few steps. Repeat this process often and soon, when you back off a few steps, the horse will turn and face you. This is the beginning or your relationship based on trust.

Once the horse turns and faces you, attempt to calmly, consciously and confidently walk straight up to the horses face. If the horse turns its head away from you even a little or attempts to leave when you make a move directly at it, back off and back a few steps. Once the horse faces you squarely again, continue to approach its face. If it turns its head away again, back off. Once you can walk straight up to the horse's face, simply and gently touch the horse's nose, immediately turn and walk away. If you do this a few times the horse will really understand your intention to make friends. I would suggest you not have the agenda to ride the horse until you have established a good relationship with it. Let the successful 'relationship' be your big agenda for a while. The horse will know it and appreciate you all the more for it.

These techniques and concepts are not easy to describe in an email. I hope I have offered you suggestions that are clear and easy for you to follow. Your safety is paramount. Be careful. If you are unsure about something, back off and write me again. With horses, less is more. Humans generally over input horses with too much in the way of cues, energy and lengthly communications. Clarity, precision, good intention, skill, compassion and kindness will always win out over dominence, coersion and trying to 'make something happen'.

Sincerely, Franklin

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