Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who's The Boss?

One of the episodes we filmed was about an ill-mannered horse and her submissive owner.  I don't think that this is an unusual problem, though it is a dangerous one.  One of the things that we were told in our crew meeting was that we weren't supposed to correct the horses and that it was best for the horse owners to do all of the handling.  At first, it seemed like kind of a silly directive, but it made perfect sense; not a single one of us on the crew would have tolerated this kind of behavior from a horse and would have made a correction without thinking twice about it.

I know several horse owners who are excellent riders, but not such great handlers.  Over the years, I've known several people who were injured by their horses because they've allowed their horse's manners to slip - or they've never instilled manners in their horses in the first place.

This is not to say that Estes is the best mannered mare on the planet.  She's got manners, but just like letting my kids slide once in a while with theirs, I've allowed hers to slip somewhat.  It's easy to do.  Little things like letting her stop shoulder-to-shoulder with me instead of behind me where she belongs.  She can be pushy on ocassion when I've fed her one too many treats and she gets it in her head that it's okay to start snuffling at my hands and pockets. 

Linda over at Beautiful Mustang has written a post on how easy it is to raise a monster.  Go read it, it's definitely worth your time.


Linda said...

I'm by NO MEANS an expert on this topic--I just wrote from my own experience. It was pretty bad. The aggression elevated itself to the point where Cowboy took a warning kick at me--that's when I knew it had gone too far. He didn't connect--which means he didn't want to--but I've never come that close to injury since--and I try to tune in at the beginning stages--the small stuff that I used to think was nit-picky. And the aggression came purely out of spoiling. I ask the simplest things from my horses--I've never been into the competitive show world. (Nor do I want to be. Ugh!!!!)

GunDiva said...

Linda, I don't think that anyone is fully an expert. As always, the more I learn about horses, the more I realize I don't know. The people I worry about are the ones who already know it all and cease to learn.

You did an excellent job explaining everything in your post. Knowing now what you went through gives your advice more credence.

Shirley said...

I'm dealing with some of these issues with Velvet right now; she grew so much in the last year that she has discovered that in the herd she can throw her weight around. I haven't really handled her all winter, and when I took her for a walk the other day I really had to get after her- she was totally disrespecting my space! We managed to get it so that she paid attention and behaved but I think it's time that youngster goes to manners school....every day!

Rachel said...

AAAAARGH! I so think that captioning on Julie's videos would change the riding lives of deaf readers! :) It is so hard to see what is a "do NOT do" or "do this" from the video without the dialogue.

I need to head over to read from her site, as well as the one you linked. Thankfully my girl has great manners, but that first video, is nearly 100% of why my first shot at horse ownership failed. (Just add rearing and charging to the mix).

Off to read!

Linda said...

BTW, that video looks pretty darn good--do you have to buy it to see the rest? I want to see how it went with the girl and her horse!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...


That's why Estes would not stay next to me like *I* like a horse too.

Poor mare probably thought I was trying to get her into trouble when I kept urging her to step up beside me.


My bad!

However, big difference between a horse that just isn't sure they are supposed to be where you are asking them to be and one who has no respect for the human handling them.

Anonymous said...

Ground manners are so, so important, and not getting run over or bitten or kicked is pretty high on my priority list. So many owners let this one get away from them, but it's usually not that hard to fix once the horse clearly understands (from a consistent handler) what the boundaries are.

Mrs. Mom said...

Linda did a fantastic job in explaining what happened, why it happened, and HOW SHE REALIZED it was happening. And what she decided to do about it. Well worth the read, whether you are a first timer, or an old hand- there are important reminders and information in there.

Unfortunately, in my profession, we see examples of bad manners all too often. Even more unfortunate is when that bad behavior gets US hurt. As a service provider, there is nothing I appreciate more than an aware owner who stays on top of manners.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for the reminder. Your post, the video and the link were all great. I too have well mannered horses at home who turn into fearful jerks as soon as we step one foot out the gate. Every spring I have to spend several weeks just taking them for walks and correcting all their barging and crowding. I've been knocked down twice over the years not because the horse wanted to trample me, but because it was paying more attention to the noise that scared it than where I was standing.

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

I'm pretty strict about our horses' ground manners - they are so important. having said that though... I do let my horse get away with a few more things than the others... but don't tell anybody I said that.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Rising Rainbow said...

Since I have a lot of young horses, I am always working on ground manners and even if I didn't have just young ones, I suppose I would still be working on ground manners all the time to some extent. They are just so important as a foundation for everything else. Many people just don't get that if the horse doesn't respect you on the ground, it really does carry over into what happens on their backs. If it doesn't look like it is carrying over, that's only because you're not asking anything of the horse it doesn't want to do. That's the true test of what kind of respect a horse gives. The last thing I want is a horse that tunes me out at any time.

Momma Fargo said...

I love Julie Goodnight! Beautiful naughty horse. LOL. Thanks for sharing this and the next post for the full episode. Good stuff.