Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Introduction To Horse Behavior

Horses can be such a joy to own! I have amazing memories of riding my horses and having so much fun! However they can be very dangerous and I've had many people tell me they are deathly afraid of them! Rightfully so! A person can get very hurt or even killed by riding horses.

Understanding how to act around them can save your life and make you have a better time with them.

Horses are animals of prey meaning they instinctively expect a giant monster to jump out of the bushes and eat them at every minute of every day of their entire existence.

If you decide not to read this whole post at least read these quick tips...

ALWAYS walk at least 5 feet away from a horse's rear. You never want to spook your horse into bucking and hitting you.

NEVER run around horses! Horses are afraid a monster is going to run out at any moment and eat them. (Read below for more information on why horses are so afraid and what to do about it.)

BE GENTLE, There is no reason to punch, hit, or hurt your horse in any way. Approach gently and let your horse know where you are at all times in order to not scare the horse or anger the horse. If the horse isn't used to it's belly touched you will know before you get hurt if you gentling approach that part of the horse's body.

BE CAUTIOUS, You do not want to scare your horse. Do what you can to not put yourself in a dangerous situation. Do not push your limits or your horse's limits without practice practice practice. Know your horse before doing things that can become a dangerous. Situation such as; cantering, riding in an open field, or riding alone without other horses.

My Introduction to Horse Behavior

A horse is a herd animal just like a wolf is a pack animal. There is a dominate mare (female) of every herd.
(Hahah males it's a female that is your horsey leader!)

When riding a horse or leading by a halter on the ground you must act as the herd leader. Your horse will try to take advantage of you and having a 1 ton animal calling the shots is extremely dangerous.

Horses are extremely smart and if they realize you are a push over or inexperienced they will do what they can to control the situation.

Be firm but gentle. Do not hit, punch, or tease any animal! We don't have to abuse the animal to get it to do what we want.

It's just the same with dogs, be consistent with what you want and redirect unwanted behaviors.

(Being consistent)
If you are riding your horse it's best to not let them eat grass. A habit like this can get out of control and your horse will try to eat grass constantly on your ride. It will be a tug a war between rider and horse. Obviously your horse, who has the most strength, is going to have an advantage over you!

Consistently do not allow for your horse to do things you do not want it to do by redirecting the behavior.

If your horse wants to go faster or is not listening redirect the behavior. Turning your horse in a circle, stopping, or going a different way will redirect the horse from doing the unwanted behavior.

Make it that your horse must listen to you. Go left, go right. Do a figure 8. Trot for a little bit. Walk. Turn Left. Turn Right.

Constantly switching your commands makes your horse listen to your directions
 "Where the heck are we going now! I better pay attention!" Says Mr. Horsey

Scary objects

It's important that you respect your horse's fears and introduce things to them that they may experience. Bring it to their attention piece by piece until they are not afraid.

If your horse is scared of something for example, people riding bikes, introduce a non moving bike to the horse. Leave it with the horse. Let the horse smell it and get use to it. Then slowly ride it around so the horse can watch and realize it's not that bad. Slowly but surely after introducing piece by piece your horse will not mind of people riding bikes past it on the side of the road.
That being said please know things like this will not happen over night!

(This is very similar to desensitizing a new puppy. Introduce everything to your new puppy before the age of six months so he realizes before he's an adult that it is normal. Otherwise your dog will be more prone to fearful behavior with things he's never experienced as an adult because he expects that he already knows all there is to know about the world.)

I hope you guys enjoyed this introduction to horse behavior. Tomorrow's episode will be how to ride a horse which I am very excited about! New videos every Wednesday! Be sure to subscribe and check back for daily posts here. 

© Faris Jaclyn I Littlest Pet Shop Photography

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