Basics on the ground
Make it easy for your horse to choose to do the right thing, and make it difficult for him to misbehave. Make this your mindset – and always be thinking of ways to apply this as you handle your horse. YOU ARE A TRAINER if you handle a horse. For better or worse, you are training him to react to you.
If you don’t have the time to handle him correctly – leave him in the pasture. Rushing a young or new horse and pushing them beyond what they are prepared for calls for an expert – if you are an expert go ahead. An expert can read the horse and solve the problem or avoid it before it happens in many cases. If you push to square 3 and get in trouble back up to square 2 and let him complete a task for you and do it well.
The horse is bigger and stronger than you are. So don’t plan on getting into a physical battle – you’ll probably loose and if you win, you’ll hurt so bad you’ll regret the whole encounter, plus you get angry and make mistakes that may cause a bigger problem in the future. In most cases you need to figure out
what the behavior problem is, why the horse is doing it, and the easiest way to change his mind. He has the muscle – you have the brain, use your strong point. Also, ask someone who works horses often and whose horses behave well and you admire, they will have some answers for you. Occasionally you may end up in a physical struggle. If possible end it as quietly as possible. Remember it’s better to loose and take the problem on another day than to get injured.
Use common sense working around a horse. A kick can kill – never walk behind, or nearthe rear of a horse you are not familiar with. Never surprise a horse even if it is gentle and used to you- a surprise can bring a kick. Ifmyou are working on him, when you move to the rear, start with your hand on his neck and run it softly to his hind quarters speaking to him as you do. If you are not real familiar with the horse, you need to watch his eyes, ears , and body as you do this to see if he is comfortable with you. Remember a horse can kick forward towards his shoulders as well as backward. He can also swing toward you as he kicks forward, so you can be in range of a kick before you know it. When handling your horse around other horses, be aware that a horse may kick at another horse and you might be in the middle. Sometimes a horse that would never kick when ridden will do so when you are of their back.
When you stand in front of your horse, be aware that he can strike out with his front foot. Some horses do this because they are mean, some because they are anxious, some because they have been fed treats and they are begging. If your horse shows any thoughts of pawing at you, keep a short crop in hand, and as soon as he just starts to paw, crack him on his leg. In all cases, start with as little force as necessary and ratchet it up until the horse respond properly. To start with too much force is to create a whole new problem. Some horses are very soft to deal with and some are very pushy and bracey. Read your horse and let him decide what is necessary.
If you stall your horse – always make him back away and allow you entry and exit. A horse that tries to rush and push through a gait or door is a danger. Again a crop works good – or a quick kick to the chest will work. I try to never smack a horse in the face or head.
Do not feed treats as a habit – most horses become obnoxious and few people are good enough and consistent enough with their horses to hand feed treats and maintain a well behaved horse. If you must give a treat – feed it from a bucket as a rule. The rare hand fed treat to a horse is not a big deal – it’s a horse that expects and demands his treat that becomes the problem. Do not allow your horse to come up and steal food from a bucket uninvited, nor allow them to grab hay you are carrying. These are all signs of disrespect, and a horse that doesn’t respect you on the ground will not trust your leadership in the moment of trouble. He knows that he can push you around, so if something scares him, he figures you aren’t capable of dealing with it either!
If you have a problem behavior you need to correct – set aside an entire afternoon and do the job right. If your horse won’t load, or cross water, whatever, most people just say it’s a proble mand fight the battle each time they need to accomplish the task. Each fight that becomes a battle strengthens the horses resistance. Most horses will accept anything given the time and proper training. So set aside the time – go into it with a GOOD plan, and tell yourself that when you get upset, you will take a break. The average horse will usually give in and voluntarily accomplish the ask in about 45 minutes the first
time and then you need to repeat it until it becomes simple. The more aggressive and pushy you become, the more bracey the horse will become.Problems on the ground or in the saddle – think on it. Analyze when
Problems on the ground or in the saddle – think on it. Analyze when and why it happens. Try to think with a horse type mindset.