I'm Scared of My Horse, Please Help
By Keith Hosman, John Lyons Certified Trainer
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I'm Scared of My Horse, Please Help
This article is for people with a horse that "turned into a brat" since they've owned it. It concerns itself with ground manners and the like - it does not deal with riding issues (such as spooky or jiggy horses). It does not specifically address horses that "have always" been bratty. Rather, if your horse has taken a turn for the worse (manners-wise) since you began dealing with it, this is for you.
Would you like to walk out to the barn, have your horse turn to you with a smile and just hang out, friends for life? Well, that's possible, but first...
First the hard medicine: If your horse has developed poor ground manners (pushy, rude, especially dangerous vices such as kicking or biting) since you've been in charge... then you'll only fix it by realizing that you need to make a change yourself. Every contact we have with our horses teaches them something - and your behavior has "trained" him to walk all over you. When the horse came to live with you he saw you as a blank slate. Would you be in charge - or would he? He knows somebody's gotta be. Millions of years of "survival of the fittest" programmed him to believe that there's gotta be a boss. If you're not ready for the post, he'll assume it. But now, six months or years after moving in, the horse looks at you and sees a giant sucker, with the Tootsie Pop wrapper and everything.
But, you say, I don't want to frighten my horse by being too tough. I prize our relationship and want him to learn to trust me. I want to bond and be friends and run through the fields bareback with my hair flowing...
Your horse wants to eat, sleep and poop. "Bonding" has never been high on his list.
You can have a terrific relationship, but it takes respect - and respect must be earned. Begin by realizing that you're the one paying the bills. Your horse is certainly "not the boss of you." You keep your horse, giving him the very best of care, but in return he works for you and has a job to do. He'd be more than happy to sit on the couch in front of the TV, barking out orders for you to bring him pop and sandwiches - but it can't work like that. You have to go to work everyday; your horse has to go to work everyday. Typically horses work an hour or so daily while we slog through traffic before putting in our eight - so our equine friends, even those in full training, have a pretty good deal.
Your horse's job is to turn and face you when you enter the stall, to remain still as you bridle or mount, to carry you down the trail and pick up a trot or lope when asked, to pick up the correct lead - and so on.
But you've heard all this before, haven't you? Your horse is still a pill. Okay, I'll bottom line it: If you read article after article and still your horse remains incorrigible, find a pro. There's plenty of professional horse trainers out there. Trust me, we'd love to have your business. But, you say, I can't afford a trainer. Can you afford the hospital bill for a broken shoulder? And how much is your little finger worth? Keep a bratty horse long enough and you'll lose all ten of those digits. Horses don't wake up one day and realize they've been too hard on you, it's time for a truce. They get worse.
You'll know it's time for a professional if you have certain questions. For instance...
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| Meet the author:
John & Josh Lyons Certified
Clinician and Trainer
Utopia, TX (Hill Country of San Antonio)
Keith Hosman is based in San Antonio, TX and is available for clinics, lessons and training. He frequently travels to Los Angeles, CA and Kansas City, MO where he partners with fellow clinician Patrick Benson for clinics and demonstrations. You can find him on Google+ and Reddit.
To see articles and training products related to the article you just read, see the following topics:
Active vs Reactive Rider
Bad Habits and Vices
Beginners - Novice
Behavior and Characteristics
Establish Control - see Control
Living with Horses
Positive Horse Training - see Active vs Reactive
Respect and Trust
Spook in Place and Shying
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"Ask a Horse Trainer: Scared of My Horse"
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