Understanding the Importance of Manners
Many of the posts asking for help are about horse's taking advantage of the green owner.
What many owners do not realise is the importance of correcting the slightest misdemeanour the horse tries on. I always say "Stop the little things and the big ones rarely happen"
Cherie says "The worse behaviour you allow is the best behaviour you can expect."
Both statements are true and well worth remembering. They are stated by two people who have spent their lives working with horses.
If you ask a horse to do something then you should always follow it through. Give up and you are opening the door for that horse to further refuse to do something you want it to.
I always start anything to do with manners, in the stable. I will have the horse loose and tell it to stand. This is at the back of the stable so it is standing sideways to the door. The moment that horse takes half a step to go forward, it is made to go back - the command "Stand" spoken in a firm voice. I will correct with poking my finger into its chest and if it chooses to ignore this then I will use the point of the hoof pick so he feels it.
In the UK horses are generally groomed and tacked up in the stable, they are also mucked out when in the stable too. Manners are vitally important and the horse should readily give ground to a human so, when I walk into a stable I expect the horse to move back. If it doesn't then it gets the finger in its chest. If I walk behind a horse whether it is loose or tied, I expect it to move to give me room. I will teach it by pushing them over to start and then it just becomes automatic.
Just because the stable door os opened does not give it the right to walk to the door - again correction and make it stand at the back of the stable and, when taking them out, they follow me and do not charge or rush out.
All the above is done every time I am in with the horse - no exceptions! Consistency is vital.
Feeding often causes problems and again it is vital that a horse realises the human is the one who is in charge. If a horse is bullish and charges for its feed then I will give it to him - still in the bucket and wrapped around his chest. I will make that horse yield to me by chasing it so it is going backwards around and around the stable until it is submitting (licking its lips) then I will give it one more circuit and walk out. It has its feed, tough that it is in its bed!
Next feed time chances are that he will think twice about charging for his feed and stand back - if he doesn't then I will make him yield. Usually just waving an arm or a stern word is enough.
I will leave the horse to eat in peace but if I want to do something with it then I will - the horse that shows signs of disliking the fact, gets messed with more. He has to realise that I can do what I want, when I want.
By being consistent and getting the horse to move from a finger pressure then when leading it they get a bit strong a finger in the chest will make them think about pushing their luck because they know that you will enforce them to move away from that pressure.
I do not ask for respect I demand it. I do not expect any of my horses to 'love' me, so I am not worried that if I correct, they might go off me. The opposite is true providing the corrections are fair.
Any correction regardless needs to be done instantly. Learn the body language and you can read a horse before it reacts. If a horse is constantly moving, watch its knees, the moment it take the weight on one leg it is preparing to move - correct with a word or a finger before it has a chance to actually take that step.
I am not an advocator of beating or thrashing any animal. However I am not afraid to correct a sin with something physical. The horse that swings around to bite will get a very firm slap across the flat of the muzzle - it will feel it but it will not make it head shy.
The horse that kicks will be set up to actually kick out at me when I am 'armed' usually with a yard broom and the bristles are used - it doesn't actually hurt the animal but it sure as heck makes them think twice about trying it on again.
Once a horse knows it is stronger than a human then real problems start because they will walk all over you.
All corrections must be fair, carried out at that instant and not 20 seconds later. Do this and the animal will respect you as leader and as leader it will be prepared to follow you anywhere.