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Getting The Respect
You Deserve From A Horse

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She writes...

Marv,

Sorry to bother you directly, but I posted this to the list and didn't get any response except for one kind soul who suggested I contact you. If you have time, could you answer my question?

Thank you,

Hi all,

I've covered this ground before a couple of years ago, but it hasn't been an issue since and I want to get my ducks (or horse, as the case may be *VBG*) in a row before I start.

Lately, my horse has really developed a case of snottiness. He bit the woman who boards him for me, which I think stems from the fact that she tends to treat her horses (and by extension, mine) more like pets, and Granda is far from being cuddly. Now, when I enter the pasture, he is pinning his ears at me, checking for treats, and if I don't have them, turning his butt. I know this is a sign of disrespect, and I suspect it stems at least partially from the fact that he only sees me when I come to ride...due to work schedule, kid schedule, etc., I have not had time in the last couple of years to do more than just show up when I'm able to snatch a little time to ride. Under saddle I am in control, but his ground manners before being haltered are slipping.

I remember a training technique involving a round pen which deals with teaching respect, but I don't remember the details. I don't have access to a round pen, but we do have a small paddock I think I can keep him moving in without complete exhaustion on my part...I think. I am going to try much harder, with spring coming, to go over and take him out more often than just to ride, but I'm not sure that "bonding" is really what's needed. Granda wants to be "Boss Hoss," and every now and again has to be reminded where he is in the food chain. I love him, but he is a proud-cut gelding who occasionally acts like he's got a severe case of PMS (now, isn't that a picture to consider?). Anyway, to end this long story, could someone fill in the details of the round pen training thing for me, please?

Thanks!

My reply...

He bit the woman who boards him for you?? You shoulda just bit her yourself rather than siccing your horse on her.

I'm against hand feeding treats for the reason I think hand feeding is a concept that horses often have trouble keeping in perspective.

Suppose that every time I saw you I gave you a treat. Would you be right in assuming that we have a contract that says "When I see you, I'll give you a treat?" If you say, "No, not really" try to remember how many times you have said to someone, "Well, I expected you to do what you always have done before!"

We can rationalize as humans and cut all kinds of fine points. We expect a horse to ALWAYS stop when we cue for the stop but to drift with our treat whims. We want the horse to treat when *WE* decide to treat and to overlook it when we don't.

In my view, hand treating establishes a contract and when we do not fulfill the contract, the horse has a right to be indignant...and often is.

I suggest that there is something far more desirable to the horse than ANYTHING you can give it out of your hand. That something is the state of KNOWING EXACTLY what is expected of it and KNOWING that it can do EXACTLY what is expected of it. That state gives horses incredible peace of mind. It removes fear, increases trust, grants respect and a whole host of other benefits.

Now then, how does one induce that state?

By understanding AND using herd dynamics. Herd dynamics are the social interactions horses have used to deal with each other since way before man walked this earth. These interactions are so ingrained in horses that horses are genetically preprogrammed to react in a specific way to a specific action of another herd member based upon the status, or herd ranking, of the action initiator.

Horses have an order of importance, or ranking, in the herd. You may have heard of it as a pecking order. The higher a horse is the order, the less it has to put up with (respect), and the more it can tell the others what to do (leader).

The horse that is the most determined to be the leader becomes the leader. It does that by doing the things a leader does and EXPECTING everyone else in the herd to honor those actions or it reacts accordingly.

Since horses are pre-programmed to react to the ACTIONS one can assume leadership of a herd or become higher in the pecking order than another horse simply by performing the actions of a higher ranked horse. If we are going to perform the actions of a higher ranked horse, let's perform the actions of a leader.

When one acts like a leader one is given the respect a leader is given. You do not bite the leader, you do not walk in the leader's space, you do not cross the leader.

I have a procedure on the web that when followed according to the sequence it is laid out, is herd dynamics in action with the person performing the procedure acting the part of the leader. Since horses are pre-programmed to react to the actions of the leader in a set manner, the horse reacts accordingly to the human ACTING like a leader would act.

I call it the bonder for lack of a better word. The bonding procedure establishes a connection (or deepens an existing one) with a horse that places you and the horse in the proper order. The procedure alone OFTEN eliminates most of the behavioral problems you may be having with a horse because it establishes you as the ranking being. As the ranking being, nature gives you rights simply because of your position that are honored by those below your position.

You may obtain a copy of this procedure at any time by sending an email to my autoresponder Bonder@MarvWalker.com . In moments you'll receive an email containing the URL of the bonder. Since I move the bonder around from time to time to keep people using the autoresponder so I can keep track of who has it, do not share the URL. Share the email address anywhere and way you please.

Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.

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