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Is my horse too smart for her own good?

Hi Franklin!

I have a beautiful mare I got in August of 2006. She is so smart that sometimes I think so much for her own good. She WILL not pay attention to what I want her to do, she will do it but is looking all over the place at the cows, at the sheep, whatever is around. And when we drive her if she doesn't want to do it or is done for the day, she will through her head around and then go to a buck. How do I get her attention and how can I keep her from this head and bucking attitude? I have been working and riding her but every time its the same thing with her. She thinks she has to be the boss and do what she wants and not what I want her to do.

HELP! Thanks! Kay

HI Kay,

You don't say how old the horse is nor what her background is. Without that information I can only guess as to the cause (could be just green broke as most horses are these days). I would suggest you are probably not spending enough time on the basics and should be taking things slower and go one-step-at-a-time. Horses can get frustrated easily and resist continued training. This is not the animal being bad or mean or showing you who is the boss. What is really happening is that your leadership and horsemanship skills are not sufficient enough to keep the animal doing or 'trying' to do as you would like. Also, the horse may actually be trying to comply but you do not recognize it. Therefore, you do not reward the horse trying and this frustrates the animal.

It is never the fault of the horse.

It is always lack of knowledge/skill/patience/communication and more....on the part of the human You don't need to be the boss. In fact, that is not what it is about at all. It is all about appropriate and effective LEADERSHIP. In the absence of good leadership the animal fends for itself (which is appropriate behavior for it to do). This is what you are experiencing. At present you have not acquired the knowledge and skill to become the good leader for the horse.

Keep her attention by providing rewards at attempts of compliance more often (every rotation or two for a while). If you get a few steps of what you want, reward it with an immediate short break of the pressure the request and maybe a Good Girl. That's it. You have rewarded your horse for a small but significant effort. Never attempt the same requests too much. A few minutes doing the same thing is more than enough. Then you need to change the action and request. You can go back to previous requests after a bit of time doing something else. Frequently we humans ask for too much and too fast of horses. This will always work against successful training. It is not that your horse is too smart for her own good. It is that you are not smart enough about horses for your own good. It is never up to the horse to come down to the humans level. It is up to us to rise to the level of the horse. You can do this by gaining more knowledge and education about horses. The most cost effective and efficient way to attain this knowledge is the purchase of a few training DVD's. Imagine that, education quickly and easily available? There are many good training DVD's found in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in the shopping corral of my website that would be very helpful to you. No matter whose you get, get several and watch them over and over. Then begin to practice the techniques and exercise the knowledge you have gained. It will be the best and most worthwhile investment you can make for yourself and your horse going far beyond tack, equipment or equestrian apparel. Good Luck and a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely yours, Franklin

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