How to get your Horse to Obey you and look to you for
In the animal kingdom there is a pecking order. Richard Shrake
points out that itís a lot like the military. He ranks in the
pecking order go from General down to Private. The General will
get first pick of the food, decide where to go and when, and so
The ďsecond in commandĒ will act just like the General but he
wonít pick on the General because the General dominates him. This
string of command continues all the way down to the bottom of the
pecking order. Any time a new animal comes into the group then
the pecking order shifts. Knowing this information, you can use
it to your advantage. You can make yourself the leader in the
horseís eyes. Heíll look to you for instruction. Heíll obey you.
If you have a dominant horse it will be instinct for him to let a
more dominant being make the decisions. In this case the dominant
being will be you. You will become leader by using your body
language to show you are confident. Being dominant doesnít mean
youíre being aggressive.
On the other hand, if your horse is the General, you may have to
be more assertive. Make sure your horse doesnít think youíre a
threat. Itís easy to come across as threatening when youíre being
assertive. If your horse feels threatened heíll fight back and
you canít win. And if you are doing horse training, you will find
it hard to get results.
In the wild, dominant and aggressive horses will make their
bodies tight and make sudden moves with fury while getting into
the other horseís space. The weaker horse will concede and move
out of his space. Think of it as the General screaming an order
and the Private is obeying.
Slow movements tend to draw one horse to another. Horses express
calmness with relaxed, slow steps. This is how they welcome other
horses in their space.
If a horse is trying to show you heís the General you may see a
clamped-down tail with pinned ears. To get him to accept you as
the General you will move him out of his space. You do this by
matching any quick moves he makes with your own quick moves. The
trick is to make the first strike before he does.
One way to do this is with a quick arm movement towards him Ė
almost like youíre violently shooing away some pesky flies. Also,
you can use an aggressive tone of voice towards a horse if heís
How can you tell if heís conceding to you? If he turns his head
or drops it, relaxes his tail, begins chewing, or takes a deep
breath, then thatís how you know. If any of these happen heís
saying, ďOkay, Iíll do what you say because I want to listen to
you.Ē Pay attention to these clues that tell you your horse is in
the Private mode (the follower) instead of the General mode.
When you go into the round pen to work with your horse first
check to see how he responds to you. If he rubs his head on you
or swings his rear end toward you then heís challenging your
position in the pecking order. If youíre with a horse thatís not
dominant you want to make sure he has confidence. Thus, be very
careful not to be threatening.
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