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Article Index

Approach & Retreat
Buying a Horse

Common Sense on the Trail
Curb Strap Tying Info.

Focus & Time
Ground Driving
Ground Manners
Ground Tying
In the Saddle
Introducing a New Horse

Lateral Movement
Mecate Reins
One Rein Stop

The Process
Progress Strings
Punishment & Correction



Round/Square Pen

Rope Skills
Slobber Straps
Training Home
Training Stick
Trailer Loading
Trailer Unloading
Tying from Above
Tying a rope halter



leading horses using posture pictureRespect 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 goal.

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

Next Concept: Visualization


There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and don’t attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you don’t feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, don’t do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer. Stay on the "high side of trouble".

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Updated Sept. 2012