- Nov 27, 2009
- Reaction score
- Wilmington, NC
I don't see how working a horse after he bit me or kicked me or hurt me is letting him get away with anything.
Now, what I don't see is how the horse is supposed to relate being worked, however hard (or not) the work is, to him biting or kicking. With horses, they talk about the "three second rule;" whatever you do about the horse's bad behavior, if it doesn't come within three seconds of whatever he did that he shouldn't have done, he will not understand that the two are in any way related. If the horse tries to bite you, within 3 seconds of that attempt, you must get in his face so bad that he thinks you are gonna rip it off, or else, in his mind, he got away with it. If you take him out to the ring and work him into the ground, all he learns is that going in the ring with you is exhausting, that's all - not even a hint of him having earned that workout by bad behavior. That's horses. (Please understand that because biting is a seriously dangerous behavior, I feel it warrants a very serious response. I'm not talking about hurting the horse, merely making the horse think you will).
Here again, is something I don't understand. As I said, everyone who has any interaction with the horse is training it to some extent. Maybe if I use Syd as an example, you'll see what I mean.I would not like to pay to be training your horse for you.
At 40 inches (10 hands), Syd is an oversized miniature horse (both of her parents were registered minis). I've had her since she was a baby, and she's -uhhhhhh - pretty lively. About the time she turned 2 years old, she decided she wanted to be the boss mare, and started pushing the other animals in her paddock around. Unfortunately, she thought she could boss people around, too. She only tried it with me once, and my response was so definitive, she's never tried it again.
In horse society, young animals are naturally outranked by older ones. Horses recognize age in humans, too. When I felt they were both old enough, I got my daughter to start helping me work with Syd. I told her, "I can tell Syd how to behave around me. I can tell her how to behave around you when I'm here, but for you to be safe, you have to be able to tell her how to behave when I'm not here."
Fast forward a year or two, and I'm at our county fair. We normally have a lot of volunteers doing work all over the barn, but on this particular occasion, I'm picking out the extra-large stall that all three of my minis are in. They are all standing around, munching hay or otherwise minding their own business. The livestock superintendent walks by, and as she passes, she remarks, "aw, gee, look at Syd, being all good."
Uh, oh.. Cringing, I asked, "what has she been doing?"
"Oh, nothing, really," she replied. "It's just that we have a lot of kids who aren't used to horses, and she's been turning her backside and threatening to kick them when they come in to clean the stall. "
Notice, she said kids. Not everyone; Syd at that time was quite safe for the adults to handle or work around, it's just the ones she thought she might have a chance to push around that she was threatening. I told the super, "you tell them for me, that if they are in here with a rake or something and she threatens to kick, they have my permission to smack her on the butt with that rake. She has got to learn that she can't threaten people!"
Now, you might think it was unfair for me to expose those kids to a brat like that; that I ought to teach her better. But that's the rub - she wouldn't behave like that around me, she wouldn't dare, but one thing I couldn't teach was how she was to behave when the boss mare (me) wasn't there to enforce good behavior. In this situation, I needed them to do the correcting, because the behavior was only happening with them. Is that asking them to train my horse? I suppose it is, but nothing I could do would correct it, because it wasn't happening when I was there.
As for the OP and this horse, well, theoretically the reason one takes lessons is to become a more skilled and confident horseperson. If this horse's behavior is scaring her, she's becoming less confident, not more, and that's not good for her. The horse is going to respond to her fear and uncertainty by upping the ante, and that's not good for him. The trainer needs to take the situation seriously, and deal with it appropriately.