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Good Horse ~ Bad Attitude

She writes...

I'm in New York. I've always used John Lyons, Buck, Monty and apparently Marv oriented type training methods. My horses lead and do patterns without a halter, as young as 4 months old. So did the gelding I'm writing about. Until the trainers got him.

First "trainer", belly kicked him ( w/o my knowledge or permission) and used a lip chain to show him at halter as a yearling stud. After the second time caught belly kicking, they were fired and asked to leave the premises.

Second trainer, a so called "icon" to start him under saddle and sell. The horse ended up hardly ridden after 9 months, somehow nearly severed his tongue and I brought home a horse ready to jump out of his skin.

Third trainer, said he used natural horsemanship methods and saw him ride that way. After another 6 months, caught trainers spurring and yanking on his mouth with no rhyme or reason. The horse would be flexed to the max and he'd still be a yanking.

the problem, the horse won't give me or anyone their space, not even another horse. He tries to bite as a game, not viciously, although if you pound on his neck with a shovel ( taking care not to seriously injure him) he gets revengeful and really tries to get you. I have made him work till he's ready to drop and ask him to stop and stand still, but he'll challenge me again and try to stand on top of me and nip or act like he's going to nip. He is extremely bold which could work to his advantage if He'd only stop the challenging behavior and biting. He wants you to rub his gums ( a trainer trick he liked) and will not give in.

Any suggestions? He is a gorgeous quarter horse and in addition to halter points, he's a beautiful mover. But he's a waste and I'm about to donate him to a local college if the problem can't be corrected. Perhaps he is mentally ill.

No, I don't believe he's mentally ill. Nor do I believe he's a waste. Contrary to the subject line of this email, good horse ~ bad attitude, I think he's a good horse with a good attitude. I'm surprised he hasn't killed someone by now.

When you send a horse to a trainer you MUST become an active part of the package. YOU have to be trained as well as the horse. I almost always refuse to ride someone's horse to "see what you think" because I'm not the one who is going to be riding it - the owner is. My job is to get the horse doing what the owner wants, within reason, and in order to do that I have to work the owner too.

The slashed tongue usually comes from wire bits that are worked up to when the horse doesn't "give" to the bit. Instead of training, shortcuts are used. Add lip chains, belly kicks, spurrings, yankings, working til he's ready to drop, pounding on him with a shovel and who knows what else to that and I'm stunned that you're not having much more severe problems with him.

Now then, let me tell you in one word what the problem is with your horse and what makes him do the "challenging".

Fear. I am as certain of it as I can be.

I believe horses move toward pain **or the expectation of pain**. If we watch horses sparring we see them moving toward the source of the attack. If the head is attacked, the horse moves up, if the leg is attacked, the horse moves down, if the rear is attacked, the horse backs up - the closer to the source the less the impact. Your horse is RIGHTFULLY afraid of an imminent attack and is moving close to the expected pain. We see this demonstrated many times with people wailing away on a horse who is moving closer as they yell, "Get away!!!" The nipping is as much self-defense as he can muster until he is pushed further.

This horse is EXTREMELY well-behaved considering the treatment it has received. In fact, I simply cannot fault him.

You have to resolve his fear and to do that he MUST be treated differently. He must be placed in a situation where he knows exactly what is expected AND what he can expect from you. Because of his history it will take awhile to bring him to the level you think he should be at. Not because *he* needs training but because *you* will need to adopt a whole new mindset and the develop the skill to display that mindset to the horse.

You can form a strong mental connection with the horse by putting him through my bonder (for a copy send an email to my autoresponder - Once you have formed the connection it is up to you to maintain it and to learn how to do the things you want to do while in it. Being a frequent visitor to should help you do that.

Otherwise, donate him to the college. I'd take a horse like this in a New York second.

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