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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 do i become a leader to my cheeky pony
  • How do I know my horse wants a leader

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    04-08-2013, 01:32 PM
  #11
Super Moderator
To a horse, being a follower is usually the most comfortable place to be. So, when we use the word "Dominate" , is comes with human inferrences of quashing the will of another, who like the dominator, wants to be free, and that isn't necessarily an apt way to describe a horse.

A horse wants to follow, to be guided. He is safer that way and can relax a lot more. But, for him to be able to follow, he must know that the leader is a leader. So, he may push out against the other horse/human, to find the boundarie of that being and see if it is strong enough. If it is not, then it will give way from his pressure , and the horse will find itself in a vacuum, and then HE must lead; with all the encumbant stresses and possible dangers of leadership.
     
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    04-08-2013, 01:42 PM
  #12
Trained
That was the same, with "Tyke", too, but he had had about 7 owners when I bought him at 15yo, meaning he had lived in many different herds. They were his fans, too, and contacted me about visiting/riding him.
I understand when he was young a pony was the herd leader. Must have been one tough pony.
     
    04-08-2013, 04:13 PM
  #13
Super Moderator
I think tinyliny has it just right - horses mostly need a leader to feel secure and safe which is why so often a nervous rider/handler will make a nervous horse and allowing the horse to call the shots is about equivalent to putting a 2 year old child in the drivers seat of a car
I wonder how many people tend to get aggressive because they are actually afraid, faced with a large powerful unpredictable animal they think the only way to dominate it is to be overly forceful.
I have 5 horses to deal with quite often on my own so the routine has to work like a well oiled machine. I open the field gate and they come in loose and know which is the right stable but every night Jazzie who has one of the first stables will stand and look at me with the devil in her eye like she's challenging me. She's 16.2 and can look bigger the way she holds herself, a lot of people would be intimidated by her and get 'rough' with her to assert themselves when all it takes is a wave of the hand in the direction of her stable and 'Get in there'. It would be too easy to turn this cheeky but compliant horse that loves being told she's a 'good girl' into a nervous one or one that might use its size to fight back one day.
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    04-08-2013, 04:17 PM
  #14
Trained
Mine come into their stalls unhaltered, too, during the winter. During the summer, I say, "come here", with my halter and lead and let them walk to me. There are numerous training exercises that establish dominance. I agree that fear causes an overreaction, but it's certainly not a crime, just a misjudgement.
I think this is WHY CA is so popular. He is very clear about the steps to take to establish herd leadership.
     
    04-08-2013, 04:22 PM
  #15
Green Broke
Quote:
Mine come into their stalls unhaltered, too, during the winter.
we feed 20-30 head every night, and never halter one, no ropes, nothing. Most are young ottb's and arabs, with some drafts, appies, aqha and crosses in there.
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    04-08-2013, 04:24 PM
  #16
Trained
BlueSpark it just takes work. It make it SOOO much easier when they do the work for you.
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    04-08-2013, 05:15 PM
  #17
Showing
I am all nicey nicey to my horses because I've learned how to read their body language and have learned when to push and when to back off. I respect their space and they respect mine. Even if just haltering, which I rarely do, they get to check out the halter, or the grooming tools ie I ask permission first. To get them to this point I've never been mean to them but then they've never offered to kick or bite. Am I more superior in the ranking? They seek me out to just hang out with me so they must feel safe.
     
    04-08-2013, 05:54 PM
  #18
Showing
I have found that a good way to gain a horse's respect is to make it move, as a more dominant horse would. Get out in the pasture and think move and maybe flutter a hand. You want to eat where he's eating, or at least stand there for 10-15 seconds. Now you can be a cranky horse and keep moving him off his spot and before long he'll start watching you with both eyes. When this happens you have his respect. If you circle around behind him and he doesn't turn to watch you, move him again. When his rump is toward you there's a lack of respect.
     
    04-08-2013, 06:42 PM
  #19
Showing
I think the biggest problem with the confusion regarding dominance when handling horses is that too many people confuse "dominance" with "domination". IMHO, those are 2 different things when it comes to handling horses. Yes, they may have the same root definition according to the dictionary, but in action, they are not the same.

I can show dominance over a horse with a firm word or a dirty look. Dominance just means that you are the alpha over them. Depending on the individual horse, you can achieve that with steady leadership and a kind word...or you may be required to punish or physically dominate them to maintain the level of respect needed.

IMHO, to actually dominate a horse means that you use a level of force beyond that which is really needed to "break" the horse instead of "teaching" the horse.
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    04-08-2013, 07:18 PM
  #20
Yearling
Absolutely you can have a safe relationship with a horse without thoughts of dominance coming into it. I also thought about this exact question for several years, and I think that it's a good one to ask because it shows that the person is becoming aware of what could be and is looking for a higher level of horsemanship. While I can't speak to every experience, I'm happy to share what I've learned. I think that a good horseman is like a good parent, a good teacher and a good coach combined. I think of myself as being in that role with the horse and then try to be a good one. There are a lot of good role models out there to study and learn from about horses and I always tell people "STUDY THEM ALL!". It gets really exciting once you start get onto some of this stuff. :]
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