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Are you or your horse the ALPHA?
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Are you or your horse the ALPHA?

You'll often hear riders and sometimes yourself complain that despite your hard work and training their horse thinks he/she is the alpha. When our horse refuses to do what we ask you need to evaluate the situation, but most importantly you have to ensure that your horse is alright.

Ak yourself the following questions. Is he in good health? Does he have any injuries? Is the tack fitting properly? Is he afraid? If so, why? The cause must be addressed.

If you find no physical or outside causes for his/her resistance then you have yourself a leadership issue. The issue runs deeper than just 'my horse won't listen,' it can be a very dangerous situation when a horse thinks he/she is in charge.When a horse believes it is the alpha it is easily capable of killing someone.

The good news is that most horses won't try to lash out unless a rider pushes to hard or to harshly to do something they do not want to do. Horses must respect their rider or a dangerous situation could occurr. As the horses owner and rider you must earn his/her respect. You must make yourself one of the herd...the alpha of the herd. Being in charge is the only way to ensure that you and your horse are safe.

By no means can you gain respect or control with cruelty. There is never cause to abuse, frighten, threaten or whip your horse. You must use love and patience and learn the basic equine body language and assume the leadership position so that your horse recognizes your position and follows accordingly. To take on that position, the rider must know what to do and be confident doing it.

To properly train and understand your horse you must take the time to learn and understand herd social behavior. If you want your horse to listen to your commands then he/she must see you as part of their herd. Horses see us one of three ways: 1) not part of the herd; 2) leader of the herd; or 3) subordinate to them in the herd — which are you?

If your horse sees you as the alpha of his herd he/she will be happy to see you.Your horse will gallop to greet you at the fence.Your horse will stand and let you halter them. When you ride if your horse walks, stops, turns and follows your other requests then you have reached the respected Alpha position with your horse.

If you answered no to the above then your horse sees himself or herself as The Boss. Now you must be consistent that you are the alpha while training. You must show your horse that he/she can trust your judgement and therefore can do what you ask when you ask. If you can't get your horse to that point then riding is not safe for either of you.

Once you are able to establish you are the alpha you will still need to constantly work to prove to your horse you are worthy of his trust. Be consistent.

As humans we must comprehend that our horses are not bad and are not ntentionally giving us trouble. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to be mad at them, no reason to yell at them, no reason to hit them or abuse them in any way if they don't listen to us. Your horse is simply acting as nature intended and if we're not good leaders, it's OUR fault - not theirs.

Always keep in mind the following:

Horses cannot speak to us; They cannot tell us what they do and do not understand; They cannot tell us that they're in pain from something we are doing or something unrelated; They cannot tell us when they're afraid.

So it is our responsibility to learn what our horse is trying to communicate. They talk to us with their bodies so we must learn to listen with our eyes.Horses do not want the stress of being the alpha, but they do want to be safe. Listen to your horse and you'll find he/she will listen back!

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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Leave a Comment

  1. al
    Great advice! Voted up!
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  2. evgr
    I think this is completely a trust issue, Thanks for the info!
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  3. annie
    A horse with an alpha mind set is dangerous...we must love and respect them to earn their trust.
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  4. naturegirl
    Wow. You have to really show them who's boss! Voted! If you have the chance, stop by my new article, Is it Safe to Ride Bare? and vote if you like it.
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  5. TreasureDawn
    Excellent article! I am disabled and working with a horse who likes to be the alpha. I am SO fortunate to have gained her respect! It is fascinating to watch how her behavior changes relative to my physical condition. And her respect for me seems to increase when I am honest with myself about how I'm really feeling. For more on that issue, emotional congruence, I highly recommend writings by Linda Kohanov.
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  6. arabobsession
    arabobsession
    Have and still am having to keep reminding my mare that I am the alpha, she is getting it more often now, but I think it's time we revisited join up, as there are a few little things raising there head lately that says, I know your in charge usually, but I want to be boss today. Love the challenge of earning, giving and receiving respect also known as love.
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