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ValerieRussell 08-31-2013 12:21 AM

Bad behavior
This may have been asked before, but I have a slow connection and didn't want to search for it. Hope that's not too rude. Anyway, how do you correct a horse's behavior and what sort of behaviors should I look out for? (I'm still very early in the research process)
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gssw5 08-31-2013 06:35 PM

That is a very broad question without specific answers. You have to remember that horses are herd/ prey animals, they flight or fight in response to a situation. The herd animal in them says look to your herd leader for guidance. You are supposed to be their herd leader when you are with them, so they should be looking to you for leadership and answers. As the herd leader you have the responsibility of teaching them to be respectful. A respectful horse will stay out of your space, stand quietly for grooming, back away when told, keep two eyes on you, lead quietly with you, go the speed and direction you want to go and the list goes on. Verses pushing into you, stepping on you, fidgeting when tied, pinning ears, turning their butt to you, bolting, spinning, dragging, nipping ect. Training is how you become a herd leader. You need to be able to control your horses five body parts, head and neck, forequarters, ribcage and hindquarters. When your horse knows you can control its feet then the problems of disrespect either don't happen or are easily fixed.

Horses are big animals with a very fast reaction time, reading about training them and actually getting your hands dirty training them are two different things. It is very easy to get into wreck with a horse in a matter of seconds, and get injured very badly or worse killed. The best way to learn to find a good instructor who is willing to teach you to be safe, and how to gain a horses respect. And you should be learning on a quiet calm horse to build confidence. I commend you for researching horse behavior learn all you can, but remember nothing takes the place of hands on experience. Good luck on your journey.

ADBeautysBeast 08-31-2013 09:10 PM

Whatever happens, don't get discouraged like people I know have. It won't be an instant change, but the change can happen if you keep trying. Good luck
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ValerieRussell 08-31-2013 10:43 PM

Thank you both for your replies. I'm going to be studying under a dear friend of mine who has years of experience. And working with her horse and pony. And two years from now when I get my horse she'll still be there to help me. :). Don't worry, I'm not experienced, but I won't jump into horse ownership completely blind! I'm really just starting to learn. Only a few days into my research.
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SlideStop 08-31-2013 11:01 PM

You'll find A LOT of things in the horse world aren't one size fits all. Not every method will work the same for every horse. Corrections aren't universal either. It could depend on the horse (are they naturally skittish or unflappable?) or how bad the bad behavior is (is it double barreling a human or kicking over my brush box?). Some people are into positive rewards type training, others think reward comes from letting a horse relax, some use natural horsemanship methods. Like I said... No cut and dry answer for this one!
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loosie 09-01-2013 07:26 AM

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Originally Posted by ValerieRussell (Post 3508546)
Anyway, how do you correct a horse's behavior and what sort of behaviors should I look out for?

Aside from agreeing with other posts, thought I'd answer your question directly - how do I correct a horse's behaviour? Depends on the situation and the horse, but they learn from instant consequences(& reward/reinforcement) so whatever you do, it has to be done *at the time of, or at worst, within a couple of seconds. Consistency is also vital. If punishment is necessary, I think it's also imperative to consider the cause of the behaviour & address that, as well as teaching alternate behaviour.

If you're 'correcting' incorrect or mistaken behaviours in riding for eg, I just increase the pressure a bit(say from my leg) and persist with it until I get the correct response. But I will also try to ensure my request is easy for the horse to understand, with use of other aids & prior training. I ensure the horse understands things like yielding to pressure before I even get on & if I think there are 'holes' in their training I will go back to those basics before moving on. I use a lot of positive reinforcement when teaching new behaviours.

What sorts of behaviour should you look out for? To a degree that's up to you. Some don't mind horses rubbing on them for eg. I personally like 'good manners', for safety among other reasons. This to me includes a horse keeping out of my 'personal bubble' unless expressly invited, no pushiness, dirty looks, keeping their nose to themselves, etc. Remember that many horse-play behaviours & bodylanguage can also be potentially dangerous to us, so it's not about whether they're 'being naughty' or deserving of punishment, but it is about consistently teaching them that it doesn't work to do that & alternative behaviours do work for them.

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