I have a 12 year old gelding that constantly challenges my authority. He is very subtle about it and likes to nip at me and put his shoulder on me while standing still. I realize he needs to be checked up but I am finding my slaps on his shoulders, shoves to move him away and pushing his face away are not really cutting the mustard. Where can I learn how to teach my horse better ground manners or how to respect my space better. I don't want my situation to get worse where I or my family gets bit or hurt. Generally, my gelding is very easy to handle and responds well to training. I know I am not giving him the the right corrections. Can anyone help?
First off, since our barn has started using the Clinton Anderson method several years ago we have never had more respectful horses. Never would of thought it, but now I swear by it and all the horses I handle get it as well. You can watch some episodes on downunderhorsemanship.tv
To be honest if your horse did that to me he would see himself flying backwards down the barn aisle way. See if he wants to do it again. After you get all that groundwork done, if you have a horse who tends to do things like that, they realize when you fly at them with the rope or the stick you aren't amused anymore.
He isn't going to feel you slapping his shoulder. Get a stick or the rope and make him move. I mean don't settle for just getting off your foot. Make him move his feet. He doesn't intentionally do it, but he can tell where your foot is and one day he'll break it. He will learn it is more work for him to do that.
Of course, as Clinton says, you don't always treat the symptom, but the cause. I think if you went through the groundwork all of your troubles would simply go away because this horse is not respecting you as of right now and he needs to be.
Use a knotted halter and give him about 5' of lead. Start walking with him with your focus on something farther away. The suddenly switch direction to whence you came. He likely won't be paying attention so hang on tight as it will yank his head. Just keep your focus ahead then switch direction again. It usually takes a horse 2 or 3 times to figure out how this works so do this five or six times. By then you won't feel the yank as he'll be keeping a close eye on where your shoulders are going. Stand still and keep some droop in the lead. If he takes a step toward you, start again. He will be content to stand still. Don't ask him to approach you but go to him and groom him. Should he attempt to nip or crowd you, repeat the exercise. He will figure out that it's his action that is causing his discomfort, You are just the facilitator. Good luck.
I agree With SorralHorse. I have been training my horse Frisby to barrel race (he has been a hunter-jumper) Doing the ground work first (Google lunging for respect) will teach your horse that if he wants to be pushy and disrespectful he is going to work, and be rewarded (with rest) when he does the right things. Just like kids, a horse will figure out "the easy way" and remember that if he gets in your space or is disrespectful he will be doing laps :)
My high school Basketball coach did the same thing to me...and believe me, I hated doing them so much I did what she said! Lol
Use your thumbnail to get him off you, and he will stop pushing into you.
As for nipping, keep stiff brush in hand and let him run into it. Or horseshoe nail just barely sticking out between knuckles, (like you do car keys) and let him run into that.
Do NOT use force, or look at him, just move hand so that he bumps into brush/nail tip. Ignore him otherwise and keep brushing or whatever.
And the fact that he is constantly battling you over "authority" tells me that you have not been serious enough about ending this type of thing.
You need to reassess your handling of this horse, as well as anyone else who is fooling with him. If any of you let him lip you, smell you, or in general behave like this, or any of you baby him, or feed treats. You are causing this behavior basically.
And use your elbow points too, if leading and he comes into you, poke him with point of elbow in his neck/shoulder, if he swings head into you while leading, use fingernail to remind him to get over.
It does not take much to fix this, but you have to change your handling, and get serious about it first.
Just to add to the excellent posts.... Sometimes, some geldings are just more "boy like" in their head than others. All geldings are hardwired as stallions, they just no longer have the drive to breed and behave like stallions all the time. This means some of them can be pretty pushy - even if they are subtle about it.
One trainer I know puts it this way "A gelding is a stallion with the volume turned down"
With this in mind, it might explain WHY your gelding is testing testing testing... What he is really asking for is for you to be a stronger leader. No safer place for a horse, any horse, than with a strong leader... The boys seem to feel a need to question leadership more often than the girls.
Beyond that, I see some great suggestions here about how to go about becoming that stronger leader!
Thankyou all for some great advice. This gelding is my sixth horse and has been the most challenging as far as respect. The Last Unicorn's post seems to fit his personality as being a "boy" horse that needs a stronger leader. I appreciate every single response to my question. I have a lot of ground work on redirecting my authority. I don't want him to become a dangerous animal. His previous owner was afraid of him and he had other bad habits that I was able to rectify. (No one could touch his ears, he wouldn't stand still to be mounted, he kicked when cleaning his feet and a few other minor offenses.) Now I am down to the nipping issue. He mouths anything new in his area. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I will use the advice everyone generously posted. Thank you!!!
It takes no time at all to teach a horse respect. There is no need to chase them in a circle (I refuse to call what CA does as lungeing)
All it takes is 100% consistency - making the horse obey every time and instantly.
I have a horse here four days, it was taking all his owners strength to lead him in and out of the field and he would rather walk through you than around and as for standing still forget it. Washing his legs with the hose was 'impossible'
I started with the owner making him move back in the stable every time he made a step to the door. She would push with her hand on his chest but all he did was lean into it and continue forward. Simple solution to this was using the word 'back' and letting him lean into the pint of a hoof pick. He now moves back instantly without anything other than the word.
Today she was able to tack him up without him being tied or moving a half step. Leading in and out from the field is in a halter without any barging or pulling. If he gets ahead then he is made to go back a few steps. No getting cross, just being consistent and insistent.
As for the nipping at you then he would get the flat of my hand hard across his muzzle. Pushing his head away will not cut it and slapping him on the shoulder is nothing more than a heavy pat.
He is bullying you so do not be afraid to be a bigger bully! Bad behaviour warrants you getting cross, making yourself big, moving into him with your arms waving and making him move away from you.
Believe me, the horse that is kept obedient and respectful is far happier than the one that gets its own way.
I also have followed Clinton Anderson's methods for about 6 or 7 yrs. Now. It's made a world of difference in our horses compared to others that don't teach the horse to respect the human. I started my mare's now 4 yr. Old gelding with his method and once he gets his halter on his attention comes right onto me! I also would recommend checking out some of his vids...