Getting walked on or abused by your horse? Read this please! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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Post Getting walked on or abused by your horse? Read this please!

I have been reading through many of the threads here in Horse Training on the forum and every question I see, or most anyways, when it comes to a horse being "bad" has one answer. I thought I would sum it up in a little rant of sorts. Short answer for the question of why a horse is being "bad" is because you let it. now here is my long answer on what you need to do to correct it and by "it" I mean anything that you KNOW is disrespectful and less than satisfying behavior from your equine buddy.

Why you correct a horse.

Way back a million years ago when I was a little girl and first wanted a horse I remember how in my mind they were this almost mythical, amazing creature. Almost like a unicorn minus the horn. I imagined riding it bareback and bridlelesss across a meadow of flowers. I imagined it nuzzling me ever so gently with its soft nose as I lovingly gave it carrots and most of all I looked at it like a big best friend. Someone who was as much into me as I was into it. Just like a giant puppy dog almost, a being who needed me, loved me…was faithful & loyal and respected me just because we were best friends. Because I loved it so much it would do anything in the world for me in my mind, oh how I wanted to just have a horse to climb on and grab some mane and fly off into the sunset, me and it bound by unconditional love.

Then I got my first horse and that’s where the fairytale met reality and those “fantasies” went flying out the door.

A horse will NOT do things for you because you love it. It will never say in it’s mind “This lady loves me so the right thing to do is be good.” I can hear some of you now…”well you don’t know my Flicka…she loves me and listens to me.” Nope I don’t know your Flicka but I bet if I met you all, and watched you work together, I could spot a million signs of disrespect that is weakening and destroying your relationship with your horse. Just cause you can share some space with your horse without getting killed DOES NOT equal a productive and respectful relationship with your horse. Often the “Flicka” owner loves the horse tremendously from the ground BUT doesn’t ride the horse for more than a hour or two a month sometimes a year. Often this horse is a pasture or barn ornament who gets lots and lots of "love" and absolutely no work. And I am here to tell you work is exactly what a horse needs. It needs a job. It needs a rider. It needs to be constant positive reinforcement of its training and it needs to be developed to reach it’s full potential and remain a well balanced and “desired” mount. It’s your business if you want to leave your horse as a pasture/barn ornament but you should be prepared to keep it for the rest of it’s life because you , more often than not, are teaching it to be a very unbalanced & misbehaved animal. They need work & with work comes discipline.

Before I even tackle this subject let me tell you I am against animal abuse. Abuse would be using extreme brute physical or mental force for no given reason except to release your frustration on the horse. We have all heard about or witnessed horses being abused by their owners. Horses hit in the head with 2x4’s, old water hoses, ect or subjected to mental abuse by being tied up sometimes for days being deprived of food and water in order to gain some sort of “dominance” over the animal. That is abuse in my book. Using a whip the right way at the right time on a horses rear end is not abuse to me. As a beginning horseman or horsewoman you may gasp at this thought of laying it to your horses butt BUT after you work with and handle them daily you will realize that horses are extremely physical animals who relay their own wishes through force themselves. They can and WILL use extreme force to convey their disapproval of another horses or humans actions and unfortunately physical force is often needed to correct problem behavior….you fight fire with fire. They understand & accept this.

When should you correct a horse?

Instantly upon it doing something that is out of line with being a well mannered & well balanced animal. You have about 3 seconds to give correction or it will be absolutely wasted and have nothing but an ill effect on the animal. You do NOT have time to run to the barn, grab a lunge line and a whip, return and run the horse into the ground with circles. If circling your horse is your desired correction do it within 3 seconds using your lead line until the horse snaps back into a state of focusing on you and understanding it did something wrong. Then let it have a moment to digest the information. Instantaneous response is what you need for correction to have any benefit to the horse. Abuse happens when you wait till you get back to the barn, unsaddle the horse and whip it with your lead line cause it acted like a fool during the ride. This does NOTHING to train the horse…and deteriorates your established trust with the animal. Proper correction should be focused and the force in accordance with the offense that has been committed. You need to have a strict set of rules in your head as to what you will allow and not allow with your horse that lines up with the type of animal you want to work with and the enforce the rules properly and at the right time to teach it what is acceptable and what is NOT acceptable. Developing proper correction is IMPERATIVE to training your own animal.

How to correct your horse.

Tools everyone should have to properly correct their horses:

1.) Rope halter with the knots properly adjusted
2.) A small crop or such that can be easily carried within hand.
3.) A longer whip such a lunge whip.

Those three tools will be invaluable in correcting your horse. I do NOT care for smacking a horse with your hand. This can cause the horse to develop fear towards your hand. This is not what we want. BUT in the case a horse is going to bite you ect and that’s all you have then use it.

I use a rope halter on all my horses. Some people hate them. I love them. A flat nylon halter does nothing to correct a horse that is acting out during be lead or handled on the ground. A rope halters knots provide a small amount of discomfort on the horses nose in the case that you need to tell the horse you are displeased with it’s actions. So why would you need to correct a horse while on the lead. The horse is not paying attention to you and the rope halter allows you to regain that attention immediately. Signs it is not paying attention is that you are being drug, you are having to “drag” it, or it is being “bratty”. Bratty behavior would be anything from being dominate, pawing at the ground because it wants to move, biting at you or head butting can all be quickly and successfully corrected with a few good tugs at the halter. Consistent correction WILL eliminate ALL bad behavior in a horse. It is up to you to deliver it correctly.

It is a good idea to carry a small crop in your hand when handling a horse that is known to have “infractions” to the status quo of being well behaved or one that you are working with on ground manners. A horse that likes to reach around and nip you can be smacked on the end of the nose when it does so. I have also smacked a couple in the nose when in the saddle and they reach back to nip my leg. Biting of any level should be corrected IMMEDIATELY. Biting is a serious vice and it makes a horse very undesirable. Consistent correction of this will eliminate it and keep your horse a pleasure to work with….left uncorrected a biting horse will start to become dangerous. Being bitten is far worse than being smacked on the nose. Done right you should only have to do this a few times in most cases. There HAS to be a negative reaction to their negative behavior to tell them it is not ok. When we just assume they will stop because they will somehow love us enough to behave the behavior will continue and escalate UNTIL someone checks them and corrects it.

The long whip is to correct issues like being charged, horses crowding you during feeding or any other situation where you need to send them out away from you. I am not against laying the whip to a horse that charges me in the round pen or the pasture. A horse that charges is a dangerous animal and can kill you. When using the whip on the horse it does sting but it is supposed to sting. That sting is far less vicious than being ran down and trampled or struck in the head by a horses hoof. Ideally no horse would ever act out in this manner but even a well mannered horse can lose it’s bearings at times when it comes to situations such a feeding. That long whip gives you the power to keep yourself safe and assert yourself as boss. Hopefully your horse will never make you use it. But whatever corrective measure you are using you must follow this rule. The horse misbehaves, you correct, it is over. Extended punishment of whipping an animal is abuse. The correction is mimicking what happens in a herd. The horse commits the offense then the lead horse hands out the correction, life returns to normal as soon as the offensive horse gives in and obeys. Its very simple.

All of these tools can be misused of course. You wouldn’t want to chase them around beating them senselessly with any of them. But used correctly they will work miracles. Do not feel bad or as if you have some how failed to love them enough when you correct them. Correcting them shows far more love for them than letting them turn into animals no one wants to deal with and can be extremely dangerous. It is human failure to correct bad behavior correctly that destroys horses and gets people hurt by them. Correcting them at the right time with the right force ensures you do love your animal enough to think about your responsibility to keep it manageable and safe for other humans as well as yourself.

***I apologize for the length of this post...I just KNOW though this is exactly what the problem is in most situations I read on here. The horse is not being corrected properly.
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post #2 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 07:46 PM
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I've never used a rope halter, but my horse doesn't have bad ground manners so I wouldn't get much use out of it. For the occasional disobedience a smack with the lead rope will suffice.

A dressage whip has a little more reach than a crop, and I like riding and handling horses with one because of that.

In fact, a dressage whip, combined with some horse treats cured my leased mare of her nasty stall habits like trying to kick anyone coming to get her out.

Outstanding post, BTW.
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post #3 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 07:51 PM
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I think this needs a sticky. Excellent
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post #4 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 08:00 PM
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I know a woman at my barn who is a "Flicka Owner". It drives me fraking insane. All her horse needs is good handler and a good rider. She has never had a riding lesson in her life and knows nothing about horses. We have tried to teach her and she never listens, simply due to lack of knowledge and stupidity.
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post #5 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys. I have been reading through these posts and I can see that people are having lots of problems with animals being less than well behaved and this is my answer to them all. I think people feel bad about having to correct horses with whips ect. and it may be frowned on...but sometimes it is necessary and as long as it is done correctly it is the most humane option. Beginners often make the mistake of trying to "love the horse into obedience" and that can be a disaster just waiting to happen. I hope it helps someone.
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post #6 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Sporthorsegirl Flicka owners are the worst because they are destroying the animal and they aren't even aware they are doing it. I have no doubt that they love the horse...they just don't have the understanding of the animal that they need and it can be extremely frustrating in dealing with them especially when they don't want to listen to the voice of reason. To each his own I guess...when you are getting bitten, drug around, bucked off and kicked you will learn the lessons the hard way I guess.
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post #7 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 08:27 PM
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Geez I hope a few people around here read this thread- you go girl!
Sometimes you get the feeling that you are (no pun intended) beating a dead horse by explaining in length, that a person needs to assert a level of dominance over their horse and giving it millions of carrots and cuddles does not cut it.
Look at how hard one horse will kick another - they are TOUGH! Flicking it once over the backside with a dressage whip is not going to hurt the precious little horsey but its going to take a lot more notice than you saying 'no, bad Flicka' in a small voice, then feeling bad and giving pretty Flicka another carrot to appologise for getting mad.
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post #8 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 08:41 PM
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Yes, you have put into writing what I have said over and over again to people that bring their horses to be retrained after they have babied them and allowed them to run all over them. If it is okay with you, I would love to copy this and send it to some people. They have so much trouble with their horses and they always wonder why.

Thanks for the awesome thread !!!!!
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post #9 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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Very good post! And I know you are right. The problem is, I am one of the Flicka owners I guess. Because I have an almost two year old that pushes my buttons on a daily basis. I carry around a dressage whip like a lion tamer and I am not afraid to use it. But it seems like my smacks are falling on deaf horse ears. I keep waiting for him to mature or something, but it never happens. I have no doubt that if I worked with him every day, he would get smacked with the whip multiple times a day.

It gets very frustrating for me. And I feel guilty for getting mad and smacking him. But being passive doesn't work either. The more you ignore the little infractions, the pushier he becomes. So I feel like I HAVE to smack him if he tries to nip. Then I feel bad, cry, work with the horse some more, rinse, lather, repeat. He never stops testing me.

Everyone makes it sound so easy. "Oh yeah, he tried to bite me ONCE, I smacked him and he has never done it again." But that doesn't work with my 19 month old gelding.

I have worked with a couple different trainers. The first one laid a good foundation. The second one, just a couple of weeks ago, was very soft in his approach. I WANT to be soft, but I swear since that lesson and trying the soft approach I think my horse has gotten pushier. So I don't know.

What do you do if you are a Flicka owner and don't want to be? What do you do if you feel like a lion tamer?

Other than nipping (mainly at the air but sometimes clothing) and being a bit pushy on the lead, he is a really good colt. But if I don't always correct him for nudging me, lipping me, coming too close and towering over me, etc, he will keep pushing his luck. And I get tired of hitting him with the whip.

Here is an example. Say I take him for a walk out side his pen. I try to make a turn towards his shoulder. He yields his shoulder (most of the time) but takes a nip in the air at me for getting into "his" space. I poke him in the neck with the blunt end of the whip to get out of my way.

Or say he is walking with me and makes a grab at my clothing. If I smack him with the whip he will try to bolt away and it will escalate into him actually bolting to the end of the lead and facing me and he has even gotten away a time or two.

Sometimes it escalates into me smacking him in the muzzle with my hand. I don't WANT to do that. I know it is a bad thing. But when he goes to nip or grab clothing, it seems like the most natural thing to do.

He will do better if I round pen him but I don't want to ruin his legs with endless circles. I do lots of changes of direction, inside turns, etc. to try to teach him something, not just mindless running. But he shouldn't have to be tired to behave, right?

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post #10 of 44 Old 02-19-2012, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Trailhorserider I will answer your question as best I can. The correction must be given with absolute intention. I mean inside you have to say enough is enough and this is it. Look at that horse and say "THAT IS IT" and mean it. Horses bite each other to move the horses around and show dissaproval of another horses action. So everytime this horse is nipping at you he is trying to tell you, I don't like that, or move. Just like when you smack him on the nose you are saying I don't like it stop. So it's kinda funny to see that you two are kinda bickering back and forth vying for top spot. In your mind say I am the boss...this matter is NOT up for discussion...and I am ending it. And a couple GOOD corrections will settle the matter how many trainers you get involved...if the horse knows he gets away with it with you...he will :)
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correcting , disrespect , horses , proper correction , whipping

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