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Franklin Levinson's

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Trust without Treats

Hello my name is Jessica and I am 15 years old.

I just recently bought a 7 year old quarter horse gelding. He is sweet but very untrusting of all. I have been around horses all my life and I am good with them but I don't have enough information on how to bond with my own horse. We feel that he has been beaten on his mouth and he trusts no one around his mouth or when he has food. I have been tying to find ways to make him trust humans more. I ride english and he seems fine when I am riding him but when I have him in his stall or un-tacked for that matter he is nervous and has nipped and has kicked once. I am firm only with my voice when needed, but not with my hands and I am always prazing him when he does good. He is very food oriented and pins his ears if you go in his stall when he has his sweet feed or hay. To get him to come to the door of the stall he needs treat encourgment I find. My question is how can I make him happy and trust humans without food treats all the time?

I know he can be a good horse because he is real sweet in nature and heart, but he is constantly locking his mind and always thinking humans can't be trusted. Any suggestions you could make on how to get him to trust and understand would be great. I know patience is the number one thing, but what physical actions can we take to make him feel at ease?

Thanks so much, Jessica

Hi Jessica,

Your relationship will develop quicker the more time you can spend on the ground playing games and dancing with him. He is quite habituated to his patterns of behavior and it would take some time for him to change. Also, if you are the only 'conscious' person handling him, it will take longer. It is relatively easy to earn a horse's trust if consistency can be applied and all are operating on the 'same page' so to speak. This horse needs to be shown some respect through appropriate leadership. A great leader shows respect for those he/she is leading by being clear, not assuming, being consistent and patient (amongst other good things). Make every move (leading, stopping, turning, backing) a clear and conscious request by you. When the horse tries to comply give him a Good Boy. For every effort the horse makes to understand and do as you ask, is an event to be praised. Don't overdo it. A "Good Boy" said sincerely will do. Ask for two steps back and two steps forward. Do this for ten minutes and see your horse tune up really well. But you must be able to get soft responses that are right on target. Simple turns this way and that, stopping (HO!), circles should all be asked for consciously with the intention of 'dancing' and connecting with the horse and not just to warm him up. Spend more active time on the ground with him, keep it simple and pleasant and watch teh transformation.

Keep me posted please. Happy New Year......Sincerely, Franklin

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