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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to start by saying that I have an amazing horse. He's intelligent and a fast learner. He doesn't get a smack very often, only when I feel that the behaviour was both dangerous and had no fear or pain behind it.

We had an incident a few days ago when I was preparing to leave his stable, he rushed out and I got pinned between him and the stable door frame. This obviously hurt quite a bit. I grabbed his headcollar and gave him a quick smack on his chest, I don't feel bad about that but I feel like I was wrong for giving him a second smack straight away on the bum. Once I put him in his stable, I stepped back for a few minutes and continued what I was trying to do prior calmly with no frustration. I am predominantly positive reward-based and don't believe in expecting a horse to behave without teaching it what to do in the situation but I feel that at 15 and 11 years together, he knows to stand and not to barge. I was actually just about to start working on his stable manners using a new to me technique, clicker training. I had taught him that click = reward earlier in the day and I started teaching him that stay means to wait in the stable for a cue allowing him to leave. We're on day 5 of this and he's doing exceptionally well.

I can't help but feel guilty but on the other hand, I feel like getting pinned between him and the stable hurt a lot more than my smack.

What's your policy on smacks?
 

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i dont think that smacking is bad as long as you have a reason for it. 1. never smack out of anger. 2.horses kick and bite each other for horsey reasons. a human smacking a horse on the chest is probably laughable for him.(but still gets the message across)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
i dont think that smacking is bad as long as you have a reason for it. 1. never smack out of anger. 2.horses kick and bite each other for horsey reasons. a human smacking a horse on the chest is probably laughable for him.(but still gets the message across)
That's pretty much how I feel. A horse telling another off is a lot worse than an average correctional smack. I'm at the point where I'm trying to learn a lot more and that includes questioning the way I approach different situations so I think I'm worrying about it a lot more than I normally would for that reason. He only gets a smack if he decides to do something dangerous like that, never if the reason behind his reaction is stress.
 

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My mare is a rock and very stubborn. i sometimes have to bring out the crop to get the message across. not abuse, just a bit harsher. its not ideal but its better than a discipline smack turnig into a anger smack becuz she doesnt listen to the first smack
 

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I'm going to start by saying that I have an amazing horse. He's intelligent and a fast learner. He doesn't get a smack very often, only when I feel that the behaviour was both dangerous and had no fear or pain behind it.

We had an incident a few days ago when I was preparing to leave his stable, he rushed out and I got pinned between him and the stable door frame. This obviously hurt quite a bit. I grabbed his headcollar and gave him a quick smack on his chest, I don't feel bad about that but I feel like I was wrong for giving him a second smack straight away on the bum. Once I put him in his stable, I stepped back for a few minutes and continued what I was trying to do prior calmly with no frustration. I am predominantly positive reward-based and don't believe in expecting a horse to behave without teaching it what to do in the situation but I feel that at 15 and 11 years together, he knows to stand and not to barge. I was actually just about to start working on his stable manners using a new to me technique, clicker training. I had taught him that click = reward earlier in the day and I started teaching him that stay means to wait in the stable for a cue allowing him to leave. We're on day 5 of this and he's doing exceptionally well.

I can't help but feel guilty but on the other hand, I feel like getting pinned between him and the stable hurt a lot more than my smack.

What's your policy on smacks?
There's no reason to feel guilty about this. There is nothing wrong with letting a horse know when they have done something you don't want them to do. I'm not sure where people come up with that idea. Other horses communicate clearly with each other what behaviors they want from the other horse. This is something they work out with each other, as should we.

There should be guidelines for when we reprimand a horse. These are mine:

-There needs to be a clear correlation between what the horse does and the correction. The horse threatens to kick, we immediately smack him on the rump. The horse will understand clearly the connection between those two things. A bad example would be that the horse pushes his nose into a bucket and begins bolting his feed. We smack him. What is he being punished for? Approaching the bucket too fast? Eating? Eating too fast? The horse will have no clue.

-The correction has to happen while the horse is thinking about the behavior. If the horse threatens to kick and we continue brushing him for a few seconds, and then after he's done a couple other things such as shift his feet and move his head, we smack him, that correction is too late. If you can't reach the horse for a correction, you can use a "bridge" such as your voice letting him know you disliked the behavior while you are getting close enough to give him a smack or some such.

-The correction has to be understood by the horse as a correction. If you routinely pat your horse with big smacks on the neck and then give big smacks on the neck to say he is doing something wrong, that will be confusing. If you weakly say "naughty boy" and fidget with the halter, the horse will not understand that is a correction. If the horse understands that he is being reprimanded, you do not have to use a stronger correction for a worse behavior. The key is that the horse understands you are telling him "no."

-You need to tailor the reprimand to the horse's personality. If the horse rushes backward with rolling eyes and a raised head, you have used a correction far too strong. Some horses will shake and almost fall down just because you gave them a harsh word. That is a horse you should not be smacking, and also tailor your voice to not scare the pants off them. But if you smack the horse with your hand and the horse turns his butt to you, that correction was not strong enough for the horse. You'll need to find a different method that the horse responds to with a lessening of the behavior rather than an escalation. Some horses play very hard, doing things that would hurt a person, so you need to make sure these types don't think you are just playing rough with them.

-A correction should never physically harm the horse. I've seen people back a horse into sheet metal where they get cut, or use spurs or yank on a bit until the horse bleeds. People will tie a horse for hours or starve them, or run them over rocks that bruise their feet to teach a lesson. No matter what a horse has done, even something dangerous, that is abuse. Ideally, we never lose our temper and use logic rather than emotion to correct a horse. But we should have a rule that even if we lose our temper, we will never harm the horse.

Giving a horse guidelines for behavior and clear expectations are often appreciated by a horse. Some horses can relax more knowing where they stand with a person, and contrary to some opinions, correctly done punishment can help build trust. Some horses will not trust a person who will not be a clear leader, and leadership also means letting the horse know which behaviors are ones you disapprove of. This is a natural part of life for a social animal, and horses use punishment and threats regularly with each other as a form of communication. They do a lot more than smack each other, as you can see in this video, and also notice the missing hair on some animals.
 

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I only hit animals if they are being dangerous to themselves or me. And usually it is a very instinctual reaction. I’ve only hit my mare once in six years, when she thought it would be a good idea to test if I would tolerate having teeth pointed at me. She found out that no, it was not a good idea. I completely lost it (which I regret) but she sure never tried that again. I didn’t even hit her hard at all, it was a flick more than a hit but my energy was pure rage.
 

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A smack to her chest even followed by a smack to her but likely didn't make much if any impression.
 

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There is no point in giving a horse a smack if the timing of it is poor, or if the horse doesn't know any better.

If you know a horse is pushy and has a tendency to nearly run you over, and it's more than a one-off thing, then a smack will probably save your butt in the moment but you should then go back to some ground work. I am not against a quick smack on a horse that for sure knows better. Hitting a young or green horse that maybe doesn't know better is fine to keep yourself safe but then you need to make efforts to make sure they know better for next time you are in that situation.

I had unknowingly made a mare of mine more pushy because I thought that her always facing me to change direction in the roundpen was good. Turns out she was pushing on me. Once I worked her on being able to change direction by turning away and having to change eyes while losing track of me for a moment, she became more respectful all around.
 

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There is no point in giving a horse a smack if the timing of it is poor, or if the horse doesn't know any better.

If you know a horse is pushy and has a tendency to nearly run you over, and it's more than a one-off thing, then a smack will probably save your butt in the moment but you should then go back to some ground work. I am not against a quick smack on a horse that for sure knows better. Hitting a young or green horse that maybe doesn't know better is fine to keep yourself safe but then you need to make efforts to make sure they know better for next time you are in that situation.

I had unknowingly made a mare of mine more pushy because I thought that her always facing me to change direction in the roundpen was good. Turns out she was pushing on me. Once I worked her on being able to change direction by turning away and having to change eyes while losing track of me for a moment, she became more respectful all around.


You are one of the few I've heard say this, about the undesirability ( for some horses) of having a horse turn inward in round pen work. Most folks just have a 'blanket' approach that says the horse MUST turn facing inwards. Did you figure this out on your own, or learn from another more experienced horse person?
 

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You are one of the few I've heard say this, about the undesirability ( for some horses) of having a horse turn inward in round pen work. Most folks just have a 'blanket' approach that says the horse MUST turn facing inwards. Did you figure this out on your own, or learn from another more experienced horse person?

I learned from an exceptionally experienced friend that we have staying with us right now. He's helped me get Willa to come so far in such a short time.

I think you have to be especially in tune to the horses intention when they face you to turn. My filly was facing me to turn and every time she went around the roundpen, she would also come off of the wall and cut through the roundpen about 5-8 feet from the wall. I think that if you always release pressure on the horse when it faces you in the roundpen, then they learn that facing you and putting pressure back on you is a good thing. When they face you, they also don't have that moment where they loose track of you when they turn and switch eyes. A lot of horses seem to have struggles with that, I'm learning.
After a few times working that filly and keeping her on the wall and getting some good expressions from her, I had more control over her feet. Meaning, I could choose whether she turned away from me or facing me. It wasn't her decision to push on me.

I'm sure there's a whole lot more to it, but that's what I've figured out so far.
 

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I’ve only smacked Angelina once. Shortly after I got her, she bolted out of her lean-to and literally knocked me face-first into a mud puddle. I looked like a cartoon character. I extricated myself and smacked her neck.
I can only describe the look she gave me as “stricken “. Oh my gosh Mom...did I do that?! I’m so SORRY!
I went back to the house and yelled to my husband “Look what THAT HORSE did to me!” He laughed his head off.
 

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I smack them when they do something dangerous or just plain rude. My horse Elle is extremely well behaved, but every now and then she'll decide she's bored with having her feet picked and will yank her foot out of my hand. I'll give her a smack then and say "RUDE!" and then she's fine after that. Or sometimes she'll be rude about personal space if she's distracted by something, in which case, a smack will remind her that I exist and that she needs to be mindful. Smacking, in the right circumstances and with the right timing, can be a useful correction. It can also bring a horse back to its senses, in some situations, when it's worked up. But it has to be swift, clear, and a SINGLE smack.
 

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And this actually makes me think of a rather funny incident when I was tacking up a horse who was in heat. Her owner always said she got reeeeally weird and really into human contact when she was in heat. I was trying to get this mare to stop crowding me while I tacked her up. I asked nicely, I shoved, I smacked, and then I had to get a crop and swat her hard a few times because "No" is not an option when it's my personal space. And that didn't work because, no matter how I escalated or how much pressure I used... this mare actually liked it. :ROFLMAO:
 

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I only smack them if they do something really bad, like nip or push past me. It happens very rarely. It's always been just instinctual that they do something really bad and I smack them. If they do something like snatch a foot when I'm picking, I will usually just give them a light whap to let them know that that's not good. That also doesn't happen very often.

How do I feel afterwards? I feel good. They are overall very well behaved, I am very kind to them, and on the very rare occasions they need physical discipline I'm happy to give it to them. I have never (OK maybe once) hit them in anger and never outside the timespan for correction.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I smack them when they do something dangerous or just plain rude. My horse Elle is extremely well behaved, but every now and then she'll decide she's bored with having her feet picked and will yank her foot out of my hand. I'll give her a smack then and say "RUDE!" and then she's fine after that. Or sometimes she'll be rude about personal space if she's distracted by something, in which case, a smack will remind her that I exist and that she needs to be mindful. Smacking, in the right circumstances and with the right timing, can be a useful correction. It can also bring a horse back to its senses, in some situations, when it's worked up. But it has to be swift, clear, and a SINGLE smack.
Yeah, I think it's the fact that I got annoyed and smacked twice that bothers me. It was within the time of correction and he knew exactly what it was for but it still bothers me. It was definitely out of the norm for me. I think I was just so taken aback, not to mention that it really hurt.

For the most part, all I need with Danny is to give a verbal reminder or ask him to take a step back.

That horse sounds so strange! What an experience! 🤣

I only smack them if they do something really bad, like nip or push past me. It happens very rarely. It's always been just instinctual that they do something really bad and I smack them. If they do something like snatch a foot when I'm picking, I will usually just give them a light whap to let them know that that's not good. That also doesn't happen very often.

How do I feel afterwards? I feel good. They are overall very well behaved, I am very kind to them, and on the very rare occasions they need physical discipline I'm happy to give it to them. I have never (OK maybe once) hit them in anger and never outside the timespan for correction.
I'd be the same, I only smack if the behaviour is dangerous and the horse knows better.
 

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Oh I forgot to mention that sometimes if they try to push past me, they just get the elbow of doom. I got my grandmother's Polish elbows (at least I think of them as Polish elbows). You do NOT want to run into those elbows! Generally they will start pushing past, hit the elbow, and then strongly reconsider, heh heh. This is obviously better than smacking them afterwards since it stops the behavior before it's complete.
 
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And this actually makes me think of a rather funny incident when I was tacking up a horse who was in heat. Her owner always said she got reeeeally weird and really into human contact when she was in heat. I was trying to get this mare to stop crowding me while I tacked her up. I asked nicely, I shoved, I smacked, and then I had to get a crop and swat her hard a few times because "No" is not an option when it's my personal space. And that didn't work because, no matter how I escalated or how much pressure I used... this mare actually liked it. :ROFLMAO:
Maybe my mare likes being hit too! that would explain a lot LOL
 
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