I belong to a couple of horse related groups on Facebook, and I can't begin to count on both hands and feet how many times people will ask what to do when their horse: Pins their ears, bites, kicks, crowds, bumps people with their head, etc. The list just goes on and on.
The bottom line: Your horse doesn't respect you and by the time the horse exhibits these behaviors, generally speaking the problem has been let go for a long time. A volatile situation is right around the corner and someone is going to get seriously hurt.
Now some people realize their limits and take the horse to a trainer, which is great! However, the owner also needs to go to the trainer to learn how to prevent these issues from returning.
Horses are NOT dogs. They are not pets no matter how bomb proof, dead broke they are and some folks who haven't had a decent amount of experience with horses just don't seem to understand that crucial point.
Another part of the problem: Timid beginner horse owners who get very young horses with a dreamy hope of turning the horse into the best horse in the world. My two cents here... timid and young horses are never a good match, (unless) they both are working with a professional trainer on a daily basis.
If you don't know how to correct behavior problems or you're scared to "hurt" the horse, then please get professional help before you end up seriously hurt or worse, dead. Oh I'm sorry that was quite blunt wasn't it. It's the truth and sometimes folks need to hear it straight from the hip.
Here's an example: (true story) Timid horse owner who doesn't want to hurt their horse has a biter. It started out with giving the horse treats. The horse got more and more lippy and nippy. Pushing the owner around, mugging them for treats. This goes on for a while. The owner, not wanting to hurt the horse, just pushes the horse's head away and tries to walk towards the gate. The horse moves in front of the owner pinning ears, wrinkled nostrils, reaches out and bites the owner's arm. The owner struggles to get to and through the gate, goes to the hospital for 20+ stitches. Now the owner is no longer timid but down right scared for their life. Sighting the horse is dangerous and no longer usable, sends it to the auction house where most likely it went off to slaughter.
Now I'm not telling anyone to not give your horse treats. What I am saying is don't make it a daily habit and feed them from a bucket or feed pan. This horse became the Alpha. That's one of the main goals of horse behavior is to be the alpha. It's the owner's job to make sure that never happens with humans. The horse has to know, on a daily basis that the human is the alpha. Some horses accept this role more readily than others and don't challenge on a daily basis. Others challenge the human alpha role on a daily basis.
Cookie and I have been having a "Come to Jesus" meeting on a daily basis. She's not in any physical pain, in great health and getting too big for her britches. I have given "natural" horsemanship a good go and was not getting through to her. Two things are going against her, one she's now an adult and going into spring her hormones are gearing up for breeding season. I will not tolerate bad behavior for any reason. So after much time with the less is more approach I finally decided to really get after her. No more ear pinning and no more rodeo shows during our workout times. I was prepared for whatever she thought she could throw at me today, and we had that meeting. By the end of our session, she was relaxed, alert and listening.
I'm sure it will take a few sessions for her to grasp the concept that her bad behavior isn't going to fly, and I have no doubt she'll test me every single time I go out there. That's fine. I'm prepared for it, and we'll back all over the paddock until she figures it out if need be. She's starting to think instead of react. Today, it didn't take too long for her to settle down into our routine. When she would try to get the right answer, I released pressure and she figured it out. I don't want to do all of the thinking for her, and she's learning to not anticipate what I'm going to ask.
The behavior is partly my problem and partly hers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her like she needs because of the weather, however I'm going to change my routine and expect good behavior every time I go out there. Consistency is key.
So, if you have a horse with behavior problems and you don't know how to fix it, get professional help and please make sure you go to the trainer WITH your horse to learn how to prevent the behaviors from becoming dangerous problems.
Thank you for checking out my blogs. I appreciate all comments and votes.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.