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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Strange Aggression

Hi Franklin,

We just bought our horse Snoopy about 1 1/2 months ago. He is a friendly horse, a bit jumpy at times but generally easy to calm down. I just take him to what is scaring him and allow him to investigate. Once he has decided there is nothing to be scared of he just steps back and looks at me. A few weeks ago we went to visit him in his paddock/pasture. The owners turn out the horses individually rather than together. It was me, my father and my 3 1/2 yr old son. We were petting him and as usual Snoopy did his I want to sniff out this little guy again. OK no big deal he is trying to adapt to my kids as well. Suddenly he reared up and knocked Shayne down. I originally thought Snoopy hit him with his front feet in the chest. I shoved Snoopy out of my way grabbed my son and left the pasture my father doing his silent communication he does with animals; (He is deaf and very good with animals). I checked Shayne out he tells me "no, only my leg.". No red marks, not any cuts, no later bruising so maybe he shoved him over with his nose I am not sure. I was too upset at his response. We left right away. I figured Snoopy's favorite thing is attention so I will leave without giving him anymore. OK fine all is good we try to keep both kids out of harms way if they want to pet him we are in his way for biting or kicking, but when we are grooming him he is always very good about them. He prefers my son to sit in the front of the barn where he can see him and for him to be calm.

Snoopy has had very little training mostly he has been out to pasture for most his life. He is 5 now. He is head shy to a point but not horribly. He trusts me more and more each day. I can groom, touch rub whatever whenever I want he is ok with it. Picking up his feet he is an angel most of the time. Anyway just trying to give you an idea of Snoopy he really is a pretty good horse but he has some kind of issue with my little one. Yesterday, we went to work him. Shayne was "helping" me lead him I had Snoopy by his rope close to his head and he held the end on the other side of me. We have a ritual that we work out Snoopy he gets 2 apples; my dad ALWAYS cuts them up for him. Spoiled already. Well, Shayne went ahead of us some then went to grab Snoopy's apples from the ground around the tree as we continued walking my dad was behind us, Snoopy turned and started to kick up at my son. My dad stopped it some how. He says that he was going straight for Shayne's head. I could really use some advice how to get these two to work together.

I don't blame it all on Snoopy. Something has to be Shayne. Horses generally don't do something like that for no reason. How do I help to get my children to have dominance over Snoopy so that this may stop??

Thanks for your time and help. I truly believe this can be worked out because most of the time Snoopy is good to Shayne. Thanks Again Have a Great Day...


Hi Kim,

Well, I can't teach you how to dominate over a horse. That is not what I do. I teach the establishment of trust and respect with horses which is not a given, but rather earned over time through appropriate leadership, guidence and communication by the human. If you want to 'dominate' you better get used to abusing an animal. This horse is very new to you and doesn't have anything going with you, or your family as yet. The horse has been standing around for sometime, or whatever, and that has become his life. He needs to be appropriately asked to have some action, movement (interaction with you beyond grooming and feeding). A relationship and bond of mutual trust and respect with horses is formed through appropriate requests made of the horse to 'move'. The horse attempts to go where requested (in a circle or even a step or two forward and a requested stop HO), he is immediately rewarded with a release of the pressure of the request and a short break in the requested movement (this can be accompanied by a Good Boy as well). The another request can be made utilizing the same process. This is repeated as a winning cycle of request, attempts at compliance, reward for the horse. This is the basic principle of most all training. Developing respect and trust is way beyond mere grooming and feeding. There has to be leadership and it has to be appropriate and skillful. Precision as to what is wanted by the human has to be very clear. The more you know what behavior or movement you want, the better the chance of receiving it.

On the subject of a horse being aggressive with children; some, not all horses, go for another being who they preceive as being vulnerable be they horse, human, dog, chicken, etc.. This vulnerability can be simple unawareness or non-connectedness with the horse by the human. A child can seem very vulnerable to this sort of horse. I suggest caution until your leadership (not dominence) and a trusting/resptful relationship is established. I teach this sort of interaction with horses to children down to 4 years old. To begin to establish yourself as the good and trusted leader for your horse you need to 'dance' with him and lead the dance. The dance is all 'movement'. Most any movement will do. Forward, back, turn this way and then that, cirlce left-circle right, side pass both directions. The movement has to be consciously and appropriately directed. Some training DVD's will show you how to ask for and receive the movements I am speaking of. There are many available in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in the shopping corral of my website. No matter whose you get, get some and get some education at the same time. Gaining the knowledge about horses and how basic training works for them will be the biggest single thing you can do to assist all going well with your horse.

The leader of the herd is always aware of her physical position in relation to the other horses in the herd. She is always conscious and present. She goes where she wants without dominence, but rather because she embodies the leader. The other horses do not challenge her suriously as she really does emobody the strength and confidence of the leader. Bullies will dominate other horses. But they are not true leaders. They are bullies pure and simple. If you learn the ways of horses better you'll be able to teach it to your son and then he'll be safer, have more confidence and fun and so will you.

I have written on the topic of developing trust and respect with horses a lot. There are many articles, essays, archived Q & A's, etc. on this within my website. Please avail yourself of all this free information to assist you with this horse. Please consider gaining some additional knowledge through training DVD's about this most wonderful of creatures. It will be the greatest and most significant thing you can do for your family and you in relation to your horse.


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