from a horse's standpoint is having them see you as their leader. You have to
earn respect through trust, support, and time. You want to elevate yourself
to the lead mare role. You also have to carry yourself with an air of authority.
The leader in the herd is the horse who all others look to for direction. If
you watch a herd, the weak and the meek will avoid conflict and show this with
their body language and posture. The lead mare has the respect of the other
horses in the herd. They won't get into her space, they move (yield) when she
asks, and she only uses force when all else fails.
It's easy to confuse
respect with dominance. We have all seen the couple in the grocery store
having a "discussion" about something where one of them starts to
scream or escalate the situation to a point where being reasonable isn't even
a possibility any more -- it works the same way with the horse.
If you attempt to dominate your horse, they see you in a different role than
that of the leader. They may comply with your demands but it will be out
of fear. Fear of getting hit, fear of the whip hitting them in the face,
fear of getting kicked. Is that any way to build a relationship?
You are not after
dominance of your horse. You don't need to make the horse submit to you
as the "superior being" in order to get compliance. Your horse
does know the difference between dominance and respect. Stallions fight
for dominance in the herd in order to reproduce.
Respect and dominance
are concepts that the horse knows far too well. The horse associates
dominance with fear. You don't get respect by beating the horse, ear twitching,
or using a harsher bit - those things will get you fear and avoidance.
The golden rule
really applies to horses. The horse has a good sense of right and wrong, they
don't keep score but they do do build long term relationships where respect
and trust are the foundations. I want my horses to look at me as if I
were someone they could trust with their life. That's a pretty simple
Never hit your
horse, they don't understand the concept of punishment as it relates to humans.
It's not about punishment if you don't get the desired result. Horses aren't
smart enough to understand a correlation between not having done something correctly
and being hit. If you hit your horse or kick them in the stomach, all you will
have succeeded in doing is making them afraid of you.
On the flip side of this is the concept of correction. A horse that is running
through the bit or stepping in to you needs to be corrected. Use your tools
for corrections. If a horse tries to run over you, use the lead rope to move
the horse off you. The proper rope handling technique is to twirl the rope overhand
at the horse if it moves into you. The horse may "run into" the rope
if it keeps moving into your space. You are teaching the horse to respect your
space with this exercise. In some instances, you have to use a correction
appropriate to the situation. If a horse tries to flick it's head at me
and hit me with it's jawbone, I will make sure that the horse runs into the
palm of my hand. This is a correction that a horse understands.
Horses in the wild think nothing of using their jawbones, shoulders, feet, and
bodies as weapons. They undestand what it means for another horse to
use its head and jawbone as a weapon. You need to understand what they
consider friendly and aggresive behavior so that you are in position
to reward or correct appropriate behavior
Horses are herd animals, they understand things differently. The worst thing
that can happen to a herd animal is to be sent out of the protection of the
herd on their own. In the wild, a horse that acts out will be sent out 100 yards
or so from the herd until they have learned their lesson. This is severe punishment
to a horse. On their own, they are vulnerable to predators. In the herd there
is safety in numbers. You want the horse to look to you for that safety