Affection and Dominance - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-22-2017, 09:43 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 710
• Horses: 4
Like already stated there's a lot of "grey" to this area. What one person thinks is acceptable might be absolutely non-negotiable for someone else. I also allow my horses to rub on me after a ride. My gelding when he's bored will push me with his nose. Neither honestly bother me, but I've had friends flip their lids about both those behaviors. At the end of the day though - he's not your horse. If the BM isn't willing to allow even the slightest invasion of personal space then you're just going to have to keep correcting him.

Without being there, what he's doing doesn't read as dominant to me. You're petting, he's enjoying it, and he's resting his nose on you. Reads more like affection. If this was your own horse I'd say just determine your limits. Resting his nose on you - ok. Pushing - might be your no. Since he's not though, I would just stop petting & gently push his nose away. There's no reason to wack him or really get after him, just let him know you don't pet if he's in your space. Then continue petting. He does it again, stop, push away, or just be done entirely.
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-22-2017, 10:07 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
Posts: 3,440
• Horses: 8
That's the heck of it, isn't it? So much is determined by context, yet horses don't contextualize. LOL

The best advice I have is go with intuition and instinct. Don't ignore it. It's there for a reason. If you honestly feel its affection in your gut, enjoy it and return the favor. If you feel you're being bullied or pushed around, there's an immediate physical danger: You're going to get smooshed against a wall or stepped on or worse (Let me tell you, getting your foot stood on by a hooved animal the size of a horse hurts bad enough you can't even articulate at the moment. You just make unintelligible utterings while shoving the beast off your foot as fast and hard as you can, and you can't move fast enough LOL). In a larger arc (Think of ripples in water when you cast a stone) yes, its the Who is in Charge Here question.

As someone who has a horse that's gotten spoiled over the summer by my kids and now crowds and pushes and even charges sometimes, I can tell you - you do NOT want an intelligent, 1100 lb herd animal being in charge.

And let me tell you the difference:

Superman crowds. His ears are backed, but not relaxed and swiveling as if listening, his body is tensing as if for a fight. He knows what he's doing and its quite deliberate. I feel challenged to push back. He's challenging me. I push back and we have a disagreement and I WILL win because its that, or let him be the boss, and I do not want that. No one does.

Conversely, Gina will seek me out, quietly walk up behind me while I'm watching the heifers and just watching the sunset and leaning against the fence. She will gently drape her head over my shoulder, or has in the past rooted her muzzle up under my arm so I'm hugging her head, and she presses in to me or pulls me to her - gently. And we stand there in companionable silence while I scratch or hug or pet her. Its all quite relaxed, no one feels the need to challenge or respond to a challenge.

You know the difference in your gut, even if you can't point out the specific reasons or body language. Listen to your gut.
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"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-22-2017, 12:04 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
Posts: 33,887
• Horses: 3
It really is all part of the learning curve.
I'm not someone who feels the need to have this invisible bubble around me when I'm with my horses, if they want to stand with their nose touching me then I don't worry about it provided they aren't shoving me around or trying to bite me.
Obviously you have to take safety factors into consideration - yes you could get trampled if the horse suddenly decides to launch itself forwards but you could just as easily fall off and get trampled.
Horses are a risk, you have to weigh up the risks and as others have said, learn to read the horse and the situation

I wouldn't encourage others to come to my barn and get up close with my horses so can see what the trainer is saying

When we bought K she'd a bad habit of headbutting us and she could easily knock you over so that had to stop but it was the headbutting that we stopped, not the standing close.
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-22-2017, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 139
• Horses: 0
Thanks for all your help. I'm definitely glad I'm getting the opportunity to "practice" horse ownership at the barn. I couldn't imagine doing this on my own.

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