Understanding The Horse. Help please - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 06:00 AM Thread Starter
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Understanding The Horse. Help please

This is my first post and probably wont post again as I have no interest in horses. However I would like to understand!
The other day I was on a walk with my dog. I climbed a style which I might add is open to the public. As I was walking across the field to another style which I needed to climb, I noticed two large horses.
The one was quite frisky and standing where I needed to go to access the style.
I considered turning back, but then as I was looking I could see the horses were moving away, so I continued toward the style.
My dog having been off the lead came back towards me for me to put him back on again, so that I remained in control.
My dog was controlled, he hadn't been barking, just walking by me enjoying his time outside.
As I continued the horses suddenly came towards me. My thoughts were that it must be the dog, and I quickly let him off the lead again. My dog got right out of the way, he didnt bark and just stood at a distance away from me and the horses.
The one horse who was frisky, seemed very intimidating to me. I could see his muscles moving as if he wanted to either walk through me, or worse rear up. In my head I was considering my escape plan.
I backed off trying to give them a wide space and keeping to the side.
The horses moved away, and I decided to try and get over the style, I wasnt too far from it.
But as I moved again, the horses came at me again and I shouted a very firm NO!
Now whether this was right or if I should have spoken softley I really don't know. All I knew was that I felt very intimidated and in danger.
As I moved over the style my dog came with me.
Can someone please help me to understand the reason for the horses to behave like this. It really wasnt a nice experience!
Thanking you in advance.
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 09:49 AM
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Your dog did great, if it had shown any aggression it could have gotten hurt. Key with horses, NEVER let them think/know that your are intimidated or fear them. While some horses wouldnt take advantage of that, it looks like one was bossy enough to sense you were unconfortable. If anything you should have just walked and ignored them or stood your ground because they probably just wanted to check you out. And its good to respect them, but never let them think you fear them. Its kind of the analogy with dogs, to get respect you need to act like the alpha. Horses are really smart. The horse you called "frisky" could just have been being protective of the other horse. Horses have a pecking order and he/she could have been at the top. My Paint gelding can really act nuts if he feels him or his buddies are threatened.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 10:55 AM
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Not only did your dog react fantastially (evidently you're a good handler and probably could own a horse - lol) but, you did pretty darn good, considering you have no horse experience.

"hhadavis" gave an excellent answer but, just to underline it:

I have four horses - four different personalities and opinions regarding trespassors in their personal space:

Three of the four would have either totally ignored you or two of them might have wandered slowly up to you to introduce themselves and say "got anything in your pockets?" The third, my Arab, wouldn't be caught dead "taking candy from a stranger".

The fourth, is the one I call the "Psychotic Intimidator". He is not the alpha-dominant over the herd but he IS the horse that keeps stray dogs out of the pasture. When dogs pack up, they can sometimes be fatal to livestock; often bringing down a weaker adult or a younger bovine or equine, mostly for sport.

This horse would have come at you at a fast walk, all the while "sensing" you out. If he sensed fear, he would seize that and start chasing you. If he didn't sense any fear, he would put himself right in your face, demanding to know who you are and by the way, where's the candy?

He would also pin his ears, snake his head, and go stomping toward your dog --- in heartbeat. If the dog stood it's ground, believe me there would be a battle between 1,150 lbs of horse and a dog

It's something I have always let him get away with because we live very rural and oftentimes have BIG dogs dumped off. I can't risk having dogs in the pasture that want to devil my horses into running thru a fence and/or dragging them down, so I let this horse get away with being that Psychotic Intimidator".

I hope I've helped explain that some horses are aggressive and some aren't.

Thanks for coming to a horse forum to ask what I feel is an important question.

You and your dog did great. I am sorry it was a bad horse experience for you but if you ever do change your mind and want to get into horses, it sounds as if you have the first and most important thing a horse owner needs:

Common Sense and a Sense of Responsibility
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Hello thanks very much for the replies. It's nice to know I did something right in the situation.
When I was a child, walking to school I used to pick some fresh grass and feed the horses, and I remember this being enjoyable.
When I was a little older we moved, and the school I went to had a horse in the playing field. Who it belonged to, I have no idea... But my friend was bitten very badly by the horse. I wasnt there at the time of the incident, but was told about it and shown the wound the horse had made.
I suppose since I've become more aware of what horses can do. Since an adult a number of years ago now, we went into the 'pets corner' on a farm we visited with the children. There was a horse in a pen, and visitors were going in and out to see the horse. When I went in the horse tried to bite me...
So I suppose the horses in the field sensed my feelings.
Do I want to own a horse? Are you mad lol :-D xx
Anyway as said, thanks ever so much for the replies, you've really helped. Signing off and out for good. But if ever I have a question... I'll be back ha ha xx
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 05:31 PM
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You did things correctly and really horses are not a lot different to training dogs which you obviously know how to do!
Firm body language - shoulders square and taking an eye contact means that you are not going to be intimidated by them.
Voice also helps - a strong determined tone and if they still come forward swinging your dog lead in front of you will make them back off.

A horse bite can be bad - the horse in your school filed was probably fed a lot of treats. Then they expect everyone to have treats for them and they get very demanding this can lead to them taking a bite. ~ditto at the petting zoo.
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-17-2012, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
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I think people who don't regularly interact with horses tend to think herbivore = safe and friendly. Many of them are, but if you think about bulls, goats, some cows etc they can be very territorial and protective. Even the friendly ones can be a bit demanding and playful and not know their own strength when dealing with humans.

By the way OP, I'd like to sincerely thank you for having a very well-trained and obedient dog (plenty of them aren't).

A crazy girl with a crazy horse
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