Dominant horse! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Dominant horse!

My horse: "Donny", will be 3 years old in May, 15.2 hands, half Dutch WB and half Irish Draft.

Today, I got Donny out of his pasture, and while I was closing the gate he started eating grass. When I started walking off and told him to come with, he started doing his paw/strike thing. But I made him move. Then I walked him into the barn. He stopped first thing inside and REFUSED to move on, and threatened to rear. But I made him move. Almost to the grooming stall, he did the exact same thing again and refused to move. But I made him move.

Grooming, eh, was normal. (Although, normal for him includes extravagant paws when heís bored or unhappy with what Iím doing).

Then, I took him outside to do groundwork. When we got out there (after several spooks and running over me), he put his head down to graze. I lifted it up, and he struck at me and put it back down. Obviously I picked it back up, but his front end FLEW in the air above me into a SUPER HIGH rear and he struck out at me while doing so. If I hadn't have stepped back dramatically, his front paws would have hit me. I didnít hesitate though, I immediately put him on a circle and made him trot around me. Which he did fine immediately, but a few seconds later he was like ďeh I donít like thisĒ, and he walked. And would NOT trot again. And if I told him to, he would strike. So I moved his shoulders one way, then got on the other side and moved them the other way. The thing is, he does this FINE. This exercise doesnít help for crap with him, it means absolutely nothing to him.

Can someone just help me realize how the heck to make my horse submissive to me and be like a puppy dog?! This groundwork stuff doesnít seem to work with him; it either results in rears and strikes, or just doesnít produce results at all. If I tell him to do a single thing that he doesnít whole-heartedly agree with, he will let me know. Help? :/

And yes, I have done TOOOOOOONS of research online. More than you could ever imagine!! And Iíve watched shows on TV, and tons of videos on YouTube. Nothing seems to work with him, itís like thereís something in his mind that makes him think he is dominant above everyone, even to dominant horses! (He checks to make sure the dominant horse is still dominant every 10 seconds, so he never fully accepts their dominance)

Any help would be appreciated!!
And btw I don't have a circular roundpen, only enclosed areas that he might jump out of if he wished (he jumped out of a 5'6" arena when he had just turned 2, so I'm over-cautious about that now).

Last edited by KendallAR; 02-18-2011 at 08:47 PM.
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post #2 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 09:00 PM
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It sounds to me like you are in way over your head with this horse. Some horses are not meant to be "puppy dogs". If that's the kind of horse you want, then you (and he) will be much better off with selling this horse and buying one that is a puppy dog.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #3 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 09:12 PM
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^^What smrobs said!^^

One clue is that the horse is not feeling a "good feel" from you, based upon his striking, etc. You have to be the one to give him the good feel/helpful intention first, then, he'll feel back to you. If you want to work with that, though, please find a competent mentor to be there in the flesh with you, till you've built up the relationship sufficiently.

I want to add that since he voluntarily jumped 5'6", he might like to jump. The sooner you get him doing what he likes, the better (safely, of course).

Last edited by Northern; 02-18-2011 at 09:17 PM.
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post #4 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 09:22 PM
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More of the same. You are basically working with a 1000+ lb teenager who is testing his boundaries. If you want to work through this, I would get a trainer or someone with more experience with young horses to help you.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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post #5 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 10:54 PM
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Can someone just help me realize how the heck to make my horse submissive to me and be like a puppy dog

First, get a different breed, like a Quarter Horse.

Then, add fifteen years to its age. Add fifteen years of training already done, too.

I don't know what you mean by 'submissive'. I don't want a horse that is 'submissive'. Obedient, yes, but I don't want a horse that will put its head down and act like a whipped dog every time I come around. And neither of the breeds you mention are going to put their head down and act like a Quarter Horse. They're bred to keep their head and neck UP. That's how they're built.

Both Dutch Warmbloods and Irish Drafts are extremely affectionate, loving breeds who love people and are perfectly willing to be very obedient. But if yours is nipping and striking, something is really missing from its training.

You need help, not internet advice or internet research(and not dvd's). In-person help with this horse, from a good horse trainer.

No one can explain on the internet, how to position yourself, use your body, read how much punishment to apply, when to correct the horse, when to stop, etc. You need someone to help you. Preferably before you get hurt.

I think you probably also need someone to evaluate the animal's diet. The description sounds like it's of a horse that is getting too much grain, rich hay, supplements and not enough exercise.

Dutch Warmbloods and Irish Drafts are energetic, powerful, strong very vigorous breeds bred to work and work hard. They need activity every day, and to be in a consistent program, day in and day out, they can't just stand around and be quiet like some other breeds.

NEITHER breed should be longed, round penned or long lined at 3. Both breeds, you have to be very careful that you are not working them like that, in a small area, with lots of turning. They should be longed only for a few weeks, before they're broke to ride at 3 1/2. They need to be broke later as they mature differently from other breeds.

They can be ridden, ponied, turned out in a large field with a gang of other young horses to run and play all day, and they can be groomed, tied, loaded in a trailer and hauled around the block.

They are generally curious and need things that will keep them busy and happy.

Last edited by slc; 02-18-2011 at 11:00 PM.
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post #6 of 17 Old 02-18-2011, 11:13 PM
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My paint mare was kinda the same her first owner was totaly afraid of her. The girl I bought her off of broke and trained her. When I got her she was 3 also but the first few months she was bad she bit me hard and kicked me a bunch of times. She was trying to see where she stands if she could be boss. I spent 3 months doing ground work with her before I even got on her. Whn I first rode her I relized how well the girl trained her. It was just a dominance problem on the ground. Now a year later she is great she follows me all around she still gets moody sometimes but straightens right out.

When I first took her for a walk throug the woods by herself she was bad rearing and stuff. You just need the right equipment I put the chain over her nose and when she went to rear up again you yank good and hard a few times let them know its not allright. Then when she stoped rearing try to go buddy up with her cause if you get after them to much you can esqulate the conflict. As for round penning A buggy whip works great to smack it on the ground behind them. Don't just keep running thm in a circle they shouldn't go more than like 3 times without chainging direction. As for pawing he's just saying he dont want to do that I would just ignore it that will go away on its own.

Try to spend as much time as you can with him when he's in the pasture just go out an stand there with him become part of the heard. I also touch my horse all the time petting and talking to her. Hang in there and you may end up with a great horse. I wish the first girl who owned my paint would see her now.
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post #7 of 17 Old 02-19-2011, 12:10 AM
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With horses such as this, if you want them to focus on you, you must first begin the process by focusing on EVERYTHING they do. Watch him CLOSELY for signs of moving into you, evading, being engaged with you, etc. And then essentially, respond IMMEDIATELY to every act. When he is dominant (doesn't listen, eats grass, runs you over, etc) set boundaries (back him up, move him AWAY from you, etc), and when he is engaged, praise him.

Hope that helps!

Claire Dorotik, M.A., author, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond
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post #8 of 17 Old 02-19-2011, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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What I meant by 'puppy dog' wasn't really literal, just using an opposite extreme.

And I'd just like to add that he's not at ALL afraid of people, in fact he's not afraid of much at all. And that is actually the problem-- since he thinks people are so predictable, that makes him feel dominant.

As for the talk about good mentors and trainers and things, my mom is a horse trainer and she helps me out a lot. The thing is though, that he does NOTHING when she is there. Ever. Never puts a foot wrong. The problem is that I don't have that exuding confidence trait that leaders carry, and so when he's with just me he feels higher ranked. But when I try to work on that, that's when he paws, as if to say, "NO, you're supposed to be following me."

Yep, I am hoping to jump him when he comes of age! I would never jump a horse too soon though, especially a warmblood-type horse because they develop slowly.

"More of the same. You are basically working with a 1000+ lb teenager who is testing his boundaries." Well said! I just have to show that I'm the 'mom' in this picture! :)

"First, get a different breed, like a Quarter Horse. Then, add fifteen years to its age. Add fifteen years of training already done, too." Had that horse when I was 6. I've been riding since I could walk, getting harder and harder horses in my life, and currently have a 12yo OTTB for eventing, and then there's almost-3yo Donny, who I hope to do the same with.

"When he is dominant (doesn't listen, eats grass, runs you over, etc) set boundaries (back him up, move him AWAY from you, etc), and when he is engaged, praise him." That's exactly what I did today, but the problem is, what do I do if when I back him up, he rears?

Thanks for the responses, you guys! He sounds like one of those insane horses, but in reality this was just a bad day for him-- by far the worst he's ever been with anyone. He's actually incredibly calm-natured, just dominant. And even THAT is only an issue sometimes, I just want to make it never be an issue.
Here's pictures of him:
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Last edited by KendallAR; 02-19-2011 at 12:39 AM.
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post #9 of 17 Old 02-19-2011, 12:49 AM
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Thanks for pics of our Bad Boy - :) - lovely!

Plus, he's none too dim upstairs, either, what with his being an angel in front of your mom!

Why not let mom take over this youngster's training & you hone your skills on a less challenging horse?
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post #10 of 17 Old 02-19-2011, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Northern View Post
Thanks for pics of our Bad Boy - :) - lovely!

Plus, he's none too dim upstairs, either, what with his being an angel in front of your mom!

Why not let mom take over this youngster's training & you hone your skills on a less challenging horse?
Thank you! :) And yes, he is actually INCREDIBLY intelligent. And, naturally, intelligent horses are usually dominant, for obvious reasons haha.

My mom currently has a lot of her own, including another gelding by the same mare. He's 17.3hands and is quite the handful! She really has no time to take over another one-- But, frankly, I wouldn't want her to anyway. I need to learn how to be the "leader". Tomorrow, I'm visiting a horsemanship guy named Dan Keen, maybe I'll ask him for a few tips about Donny while I'm there.
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