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Franklin Levinson's

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Showing some attitude

Dear Franklin,
Your website is very helpful.....thank you!

I own an 18 month old PMU filly. I am following natural horsemanship training and it's going very well. She is a very affectionate horse, pretty laid back and does not kick or bite. However, I am very curious about something! Whenever I go into the paddock that she shares with two geldings, her ears perk up and she willingly leaves the boys and strolls over to me. When she gets about 10 feet from me her ears go back. As soon as she arrives the rest of the way her ears relax. This also happens when I am leading her and we approach another person. She has never shown aggression, but I am not sure what she's telling me. She also exhibits this behavior when she approaches her pile of hay outside (even when no other horse is near it!). I also saw her walk up to the water trough the other day and do the same thing...ears back! At feeding time, while in her stall her ears are back, but I am waiting her out and don't drop her feed until her attitude changes. While she eats her grain, I am able to enter her stall and touch her all over without any problem. The geldings she pals around with are bossy and give her the occasional bite! She does pin her ears at them when they approach, but she relaxes if no bite is involved... overall they get along well. What would be your suggestion as how to handle her at these times? Is she just acting like an adolescent and it is expected behavior? Should I just send her back from me if I see this behavior, and not invite her further until her attitude changes?
Thanks so much for your time....

Hi Deb,

The horse is 'displaying' a bit of a "don't mess with me" or protecting herself attitude. Its not neccessarially a bad thing or a big deal. We all have personalities, including each horse. This 'attitude' display, unless it becomes a problem (accompanied by a bite or a kick), could just be left alone. However, what you could do, if it is something that really bothers you, is do a ton of ground play with your horse. Play games and have dances with your horse on the ground. This will have the effect of developing a much greater bond with your horse to the point that its attitude when you are around it will be nothing but terrific all the time. I suggest this anyway to everyone. Most folks do not take ground handling far enough nor do they understand the significance of it. This will change your horse attitude when you are with it dramatically. It will help some when the horse is just with other horses. But it might not totally solve that situation......Good Luck.

Sincerely, Franklin

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