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Shy while eating, horse behavior and personalities


I have two 9 month old Quarter Horses. They came to me from an auction in North Dakota with no previous human contact or imprinting. They have been with me for 5 months now and are doing very well in training to halter and lead roping. My question is this. I have never bothered either horse while eating. While the one eats calmly, the other is very nervous while eating. If you even walk past his stall while he is eating , he lays back his ears , backs up, and stomps his hoofs. Both horses are fed in their stalls with no competition. This is the shyer of the two horses and has needed extra attention to get him over being head shy and nervous in general. Why is he doing this? Is this something that will lead to other problems that I don't know about?

Thank you for your time and advise. Susan

Hi Susan,

Horses develop personalities much the same as humans. The shy horse needs more support as it is afraid. It is afraid it will not have enough food or that it will be safe. Basically it boils down to fear of not surviving. The horse lacks confidence and self-esteem. Perhaps some of the reason for this is genetic. Some of the reason could be the horse was passed around a bit and became insecure from being handled roughly and inappropriately. It knows it was auctioned off. Believe me they know so much more than you think and react to that. This horse will obviously take more of your time to come to trust. Some horses, just like people, are more easy going and things sort of roll off their backs. Others are not and are nervous, anxious and seem to be on edge mostly. People like that would be helped by meditation (or medication). Horses like that need a lot of simple, easy and consistent rather gentle movement with a human, to begin to settle down. It is a process that cannot be sped up.

You do not need to tire the horse out to settle it. That is not the issue. Fear is dispelled by the development of trust over time through consistent appropriate handling. Don't baby the horse, but rather, be like the great parent with a fearful, shy child. It is the same. Good luck and keep me posted. IN the shopping corral of my website there are DVD's and tapes that would help you. Please consider the value of having a visual aid to help you with techniques to help your horse come back to trust.

Sincerely, Franklin

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