Can you have a safe leadership role with a horse without dominance ?
 
 

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Can you have a safe leadership role with a horse without dominance ?

This is a discussion on Can you have a safe leadership role with a horse without dominance ? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • How to establish dominance with a horse
  • How to avoid fighting with your horse without loosing dominace

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    04-08-2013, 08:54 AM
  #1
Weanling
Can you have a safe leadership role with a horse without dominance ?

Ok so im getting really confused because, I believe that there is a hierarchy to nearly everything and every one has roles and certain people/things have leadership, and that's how every one goes about in life because of some people have dominance and others don't and some things are neutral.

So why do some people or you ? Go on about ooo can't be domineering to a horse coz that's mean. And I don't get it coz if your leader than you should have more dominance because horse listens to you. But I realise to be a leader you have to be respected and you have to be thought as a good protector and some one the horse relies on but just so confused and every one talks different stuff and I just say what I see with all animals in some degree nearly every animal uses force to establish dominance to become a leader or who is higher up in the hierarchy and yea I believe in instincts and that things will all ways test the boundaries and try to gain more power so be all nice and all natural horsemanship when instincts can be based on aggression, dominance and power and the will to survive.

So I think that natural horsemanship isn't all nicey nicey you know, coz we need to think what horses think like because they have strong natural instincts and a will to survive.

Being blunt here :
Anger is natural
Dominance is natural
Love is natural
Fighting is natural
     
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    04-08-2013, 11:37 AM
  #2
Green Broke
People interpret different words differently. To many people dominance is a negitive word, while to others its the same as leadership. To me, a leader is dominant over a follower. To answer your initial question, As I veiw it, no you cannot have leadership without dominance, a herd member that is not dominant over its other herd members is not the leader, its a follower.

Quote:
in some degree nearly every animal uses force to establish dominance to become a leader
Um, not really. A lead mare will only use force if absolutely nessesary, after several forms of obvious body language fail to get the point across. A wild stallion will use agression on an invading stallion only if he doesnt get the message, and oversteps the social boundaries. As owners, I think the same principle should be applied, asking a horse, telling a horse, then enforcing the command if absolutely nessesary(which it often is not)

Quote:
being blunt here :
Anger is natural
Dominance is natural
Love is natural
Fighting is natural
in their appropriate place, and in ballance, yes. Watch a lead mare in her herd. How often does she get angry? I have seen the lead mare at the farm angry once, when she was first becoming lead mare. In the two years since then I have watched her ask, tell, and cooly enforce her possition. She disaplines only as much as nessesary.

Life is about ballance, and too much of one thing is never good, encluding the qualities listed above.
     
    04-08-2013, 11:47 AM
  #3
Trained
Nope. Lead broodmares and lead stallions (and gelding herd leaders) give the other horses one warning, then comes the kick or the bite.
Horses do NOT understand equal. They crave leadership, and will fill the leadership vacuum if the human doesn't dominate.
You must discipline, both your pets and your children. It's the same argument that caused the young father of a 2yo boy who was having a tantrum in church recently, to hand him over to his 9 months pregnant wife to deal with. Really?!? =/(THAT behavior was being practiced at home, I'm sure. Warning to mothers of sons: We ALL know that this goes on behind the scenes.)
They both do not know right behavior from wrong behavior until you insist on it. I like to demand, then praise, then let my horse think about the lesson. It's much easier to do this NOW bc I'm 55yo, then when I first got horses at 27yo. After a few years of such treatment, my horses follow me around the pasture, without treats.
Understand that when you use a whip to extend your arm the horse will react to it and move away. Even if you have to hit an aggressive horse with a whip it doesn't hurt that big an animal as much as it would hurt a human if you did the same thing. They are literally 10x larger than us. I used to kick my horses in the "shins" if they ever stepped on my foot. They understood, but didn't get a bruise from MY little foot.
It is always amazing to me that these animals have a desire to be dominated by people. But they do.
nvr2many likes this.
     
    04-08-2013, 12:05 PM
  #4
Trained
I have one mare who is especially dominant. If I am not leading, in her eyes, I'm following and the view never changes. So for her, I am always on my toes, in charge and NEVER give her an inch, she sees it as weakness. Even though I'm in charge, she will still challenge me. She loves to challenge my space, so in the stall especially, I am very demanding. She cannot approach her dinner bucket, hay manger, water buckets, unless I allow it. She knows the rules, I consistently enforce them and STILL she will challenge. When she challenges me, I respond immediately and forcefully and it's over. She'll then admit (lick and chew) that I'm the leader and she'll ask permission and I grant it. Until the next time she decides to challenge. I've only had her a few months so I can't say if she'll ever quit challenging me or not, but no matter what I am the leader and I dominate her every single chance I get.

By dominate her I mean, I will put her in her place just as hard as I have to. I don't beat on her, constantly nitpick her or fuss all the time. When I am around she is to stay out of my space unless invited in, she must face me and have "pretty" ears and show no signs of aggression or anger, and if I ask her to move her feet she must do it immediately, she must not interfere when I handle or work with her colt. And obviously, all the normal horse rules of no biting, kicking, etc etc apply.
     
    04-08-2013, 12:20 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueSpark    
People interpret different words differently. To many people dominance is a negitive word, while to others its the same as leadership. To me, a leader is dominant over a follower. To answer your initial question, As I veiw it, no you cannot have leadership without dominance, a herd member that is not dominant over its other herd members is not the leader, its a follower.



Um, not really. A lead mare will only use force if absolutely nessesary, after several forms of obvious body language fail to get the point across. A wild stallion will use agression on an invading stallion only if he doesnt get the message, and oversteps the social boundaries. As owners, I think the same principle should be applied, asking a horse, telling a horse, then enforcing the command if absolutely nessesary(which it often is not)



In their appropriate place, and in ballance, yes. Watch a lead mare in her herd. How often does she get angry? I have seen the lead mare at the farm angry once, when she was first becoming lead mare.
I have seen mares, and geldings, constantly go after horses for no apparent reason, my own mare included. I have seen mares beat the living crap out of another horse that had backed down and was cowering in a corner, for no apparent reason.

We would like to believe that we can predict horse's behavior, but we cannot. My friends and I use the term "just got a bug up their butt" to describe random-seeming behavior like that. Sometimes a horse will just take a dislike to another horse and will not leave them alone, no matter how submissive the attacked horse is. You can try to predict behavior, but you will not always be right.
     
    04-08-2013, 12:53 PM
  #6
Green Broke
This^^ I very much doubt happens in the wild, or often with well socialized horses raised in a herd environment.

The herd at the farm is constantly changing, 4 months old to 25 years, mares and geldings, goats, a donkey, from 2" at the shoulder to 18hh. No one picks on anyone a huge amount, everyone is well socialized(20+ horses) The only time we have problems is when a horse comes that was not raised 'naturally', who doesn't know social boundaries.
Posted via Mobile Device
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    04-08-2013, 01:04 PM
  #7
Trained
Every disciplinary measure has it's place. Don't apologize that you have to hit your horse. You MUST protect yourself. Dreamcatcher's mare probably won many battles in the past with previous owners. Perhaps that is why she was sold.
My horse, "Tyke" (1970-2009, RIP) was THE toughest horse I have ever met..with other horses. Practically anybody could lead, groom, load him in a trailer. It's all about early training, but the later training works, too. Just takes more time to work.
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    04-08-2013, 01:22 PM
  #8
Super Moderator
I think the first thing to understand is that we aren't horses and they know that. Our biggest advantage is our superior intelligence because we would never beat a horse in terms of strength and speed.
Dominance is about laying down boundaries and being the one your horse relies on for everything so trust also plays a big part in establishing yourself as the 'leader' because the true 'alpha in a herd situation is the one they trust and rely on and not the one they fear and avoid.
Its the word aggression that concerns me more because it has a sense of bullying and even acting in temper about it. You can be firm with a horse without resorting to real aggression, they forgive and understand a sharp tap or even a good whack now and again if they step seriously out of line provided that for the other 99% of the time they are treated fairly and kindly.
If you over do the aggressive dominance you risk ending up with a horse that either fears you and is nervy and anxious around you or one that turns defensive and learns to attack at the slightest sign of what it sees as something confrontational.
Corporal likes this.
     
    04-08-2013, 01:27 PM
  #9
Trained
I think we're all in agreement. If you are a novice, don't try to fix problems with elude you with your horse without getting a trainer or more experienced LIVE person to help.
     
    04-08-2013, 01:31 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueSpark    
This^^ I very much doubt happens in the wild, or often with well socialized horses raised in a herd environment.
Posted via Mobile Device
There is some validity to this. However, I think horses can just have a bad day like anyone else. In the wild though, there is plenty of room to get away from an aggressor, same as with horses in large pastures. So you won't notice 'unfair' activities from alphas nearly as often.

In smaller turnouts though, tensions can really build. My own mare is well socialized. She has spent her entire twelve years in varying herd situations. As she has aged she has climbed the heirarchy to the point that she is often the alpha, our herds do vary from time to time just because of the nature of how my barn is run.

When my mare is in charge, generally the herd is calm and relaxed, she is a strong and usually fair leader. Even so, she can have a bad day where she will go after horses that are nowhere close to needing it. I think hormone fluxes may contribute, but even that aside, I cannot always explain her actions.

Some Alphas though are not good leaders, they are more like dictators, going total overkill with punishments, giving no warnings and just attacking right off the bat, or attacking for no reason. Those herds are often nervous, with horses pacing and generally looking unhappy. Again, you see this most in smaller turnouts.
     

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