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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Rearing, charging, biting, pulling horse

Hello Franklin,

I hope you can help me with this problem. We recently bought a 12 year old gelding for my two children and myself to ride. He is well trained and lovely to ride but we are having problems with him on the ground, largely with biting, charging and pulling back ( to the point of rearing) when tied.

I think he is trying to assert his dominance over us ( he does it more with the children than myself) From reading lots of your advice I can see that this type of problem is not uncommon with people who are inexperienced.

I assume that we need to show him that we are the dominant party, but how can the children do this? He is obviously much bigger than them and they are starting to become frightened of saddling him and working with him in the stall. I really need some practical ideas on how to deal with this. I am starting to become worried about their safety around him. ( the kids saddled and rode him regularly at the previous owners place before we bought him and apart from trying to nip when he was girthed up they didn't have these problems) I hope you can help because the last thing I want is for them to be put off working with and riding horses.


Hi Lynda,

Horses need leadership. They require a good, confident leader all the time to know they are safe. When a leader they can trust is not present they fend for themselves for survuval. This is what you horse is doing. He is not being bad. He is just being a normal horse. He thinks he needs to do this (lead you) in order to survive. It is not even about dominance. It is about his survival. To that end he is doing all this behavior because there is no leader around he can trust. He is going to go after the children as they are most vulnerable. If you begin to do basic ground exercises with him (appropriate, skillful and conscious leading forward, stopping, backing, turning, lunging, etc.) he will become compliant again. You must teach the children to do this as well. I teach this to children as young as four years old and, with a reasonably well trained horse, it works for them too. Until he becomes trusting and willing to comply again, do not let the children into the stall with him. It weill make the situation worse as they do not have the abilities to offer any sort of confidence with him. Tell the kids he is afraid because no one is being the great parent for him who can lead him to feelings of safety. The horse gets his sense of safety from the leader. I shall be offering DVD's within two months that will address your challenges with him. I am certain they will be very valuable to you. Please check with the website after October for their release date.

When you first saw the horse nip being girthed up, that should have alerted you to the potential problems you are now faced with. The person who sold you the horse was not completely forthcoming with all the issues the horse had. They also did not know much about horses either as this sort of thing is easy to deal with by becoming a good leader for the horse and knowing a few basic principles of good horsemanship. They did not care. They did have, at least, some confidence around horses which you do not and that is making the problems really come out now. I can help you with this and all the other issues. First, as I have addressed these situations often within the 'help center' in the website, please use the convenient search feature to search my archived Q & A's for the answers. If you do not find what you are looking for, let me know and I will respond. Also, I am available to offer you phone coaching sessions that will quickly and efficiently get you really on track with your horse. They cost about what a piano lesson does and are a very effective way to receive sound horsemanship coaching that is conventient, easy and allows for quick feedback if something does not work or you have questions. Please consider the possibilities. Let me know if you find some answers within the archived Q & A's. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely, Franklin

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