Is it wrong to give your horse a pat? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Is it wrong to give your horse a pat?

My question is: is it wrong or frowned upon to give your horse pats? I have this Parelli follower "trainer" at my barn who comes and works with a few of the horses. She's constantly telling me what I need to do with my horse, "teaching" me how to tack him up etc. I've been around horses for 10 years now, and I admit I don't know everything, obviously. This lady just drives me NUTS with her condescending attitude. She continuously tells me I shouldn't pat my horse on the withers or neck, they don't enjoy it. She says in the herd, a pat is a sign of "go away" or "get out of my space". I'd like to believe her, but I just haven't seen a horse genuinely dislike it. I'd like to please my horse as much as I can, so I do not want to continue doing this if it's true.
Can I get some input on this?

Yesterday she was hovering while I was bridling my horse and continuously said I was doing it wrong. My boy has never had a problem with bridling, so I don't believe I am.

ETA: I have not hired her as a trainer, she just seems to hover while others are working with their horses, also does it to a new boarder and we just cannot stand it anymore. New boarder has no problem telling her to mind her business, but I don't have guts, especially the guts to tell an /elder/(in essence) how I feel. I try not to be rude.
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Last edited by xlionesss; 03-18-2013 at 07:03 PM.
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post #2 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:09 PM
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Ugh, I hate being around people like that. The funny thing about horses is that they will interpret the intent behind the action more than the action itself. I pat my horses all the time and they don't seem to mind it. It doesn't cause them to become anxious or try to move away from me. Granted, I don't go overboard and smack the s*** out of them like some folks you see, but I see nothing wrong with a decent pat occasionally.

I even pat my horses on the rump and, God forbid, on the head/face too. Funny that they can tell the difference between a "you did a good job" pat and a "you need to move over/back" pat, even if they are the exact same firmness.

I'm sorry to say, but she sounds like a bully. The only way she's ever going to leave you alone is if you, pardon the language, grow a pair and put her in her place.

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post #3 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. I want to terribly bad, but just cannot find the strength to! She is a bit of a bully, but I just put on a show and act like I'm really learning. She even tells the BO what she's doing wrong, occasionally.
I pat my boy(mostly when she isn't around to butt in) and he reacts just fine...usually it's after a good wither or ear scratch.
I feel like if he disliked it, he'd pin his ears or swish his tail like he does when he's irritated. I think I know my horse and his reactions a bit better than this lady who spends maybe 10 minutes around him a week as opposed to me spending at least 10 hours a week with him.

Last edited by xlionesss; 03-18-2013 at 07:14 PM.
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post #4 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:12 PM
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Believe the horse. If they like something, they will let you know. I'm more of a 'rub-er' that a 'pat-er' myself, but much of what horses like is learned. If something relaxes US, and makes US happy, then horses figure it out and respond to us as individuals. IMHO.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #5 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:24 PM
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Tell her that if you wanted her advice, you'd pay her for it. Otherwise, it's not worth bothering with... Well, maybe that's a bit mean, but I would definitely suggest letting her know how you feel.
Honestly, I don't know where she's getting any of this. If there's one thing my horses love more than a treat, it's a pat or a scratch. Especially on the withers. Horses groom each other all the time to bond.
-edit- And I agree with bsms. Listen to the horse. Some of them are a lot less touchy, some love to be touched. But in my experience, horses like it more often than not, and as they're wonderfully honest animals, they always let you know what they like and don't like.

Last edited by soenjer55; 03-18-2013 at 07:27 PM.
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post #6 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, my bratty appy would definitely tell me if he wasn't enjoying it lol

I don't know where she gets any of her stuff. She "taught" me how to bridle my horse yesterday by holding a treat in her hand to get him to "accept" the bit. He doesn't have problems accepting a bit until a stranger comes up and tries it. Then it takes maybe 3 minutes.
I don't want my horse to assume every time he gets bridled, he'll be treated for it. For Gods sake, he's 15 years old.
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post #7 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:35 PM
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I pat/rub my horse and I know she likes it. But regardless of anyone's particular preferences when it comes to handling their horses, no one should be overstepping your boundaries, period. You did not ask for this woman's opinion. As smrobs said, the appropriate thing to do would be to tell her in a direct way that her input is neither desired not appreciated. You can do it in a diplomatic way, just be straight forward.

I hope that helps. Things like that drive me nuts.
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post #8 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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I'm scared of hurting someones feelings...even if she annoys the heck outta me. Maybe some people like her teachings, I'm just not a fan of unwarranted advice from someone who puts off the vibe she'll never learn another thing about horses in her life; as if she knows everything there is to know. Thats what really gets to me.
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post #9 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:39 PM
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"Thank you for your help, but we are fine (and/or) I have to get moving, I only have x amount of time to ride today." I can't tell you how many times a fake deadline has helped me politely get out of an instruction session or boarder chat that I didn't ask for.
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post #10 of 145 Old 03-18-2013, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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I'll have to try that one!
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