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Help! Do I Have
A Stubborn Horse?

Dear Marv,

We have a 12 year old QH gelding. We are new to riding and were somewhat nervous to start with. Our horse, Boz, seemed fairly obedient at first and obeyed the rein commands well. As time went on, the addition of more pasture and another horse seems to have changed him.

Boz will not go past about 50 yards of where they normally hang out, i.e. barn, food, fence next to house. I know he understands the rein commands but will fight to stay in his territory. I have been told by friends that he needs to be made to go where I want him to but I push him to my comfort level then stop. He will side step and/or back up when I try to steer him and when he hears the other horse, Suzie, whinny he heads for her. He has never bucked or kicked. He is quite gentle actually and my children ride him. As long as you don't force him past his area I spoke of earlier he does really well. How can I train him to leave his box?

First of all I want to tell you to beware of friends or any one who tells you you need to MAKE a horse do anything. Making a horse do anything can get you into some pretty hairy situations as well as build resentment in both you and the horse.

As far as training a horse goes, traditional training is a coin toss. It either works or it doesn't. If it works one keeps and enjoys the horse. If it doesn't, one sends it on down the road. There are a huge bunch of horses on the roads.

I don't think your horse is stubborn. The main reason I say that is because I have never seen a stubborn horse. Horses are the most tractable animals on earth. If they are not, there is usually a simple reason as to why that is. The reason may be simple, identifying it may not be.

If we understand some basic horse characteristics we can use them to our advantage to accomplish some rather remarkable things without MAKING the horse do anything.

The first thing we need to understand is that the horse is a herd animal and we are social "animals." Horses are governed by herd dynamics and we humans are governed by social dynamics.

Herd dynamics is essentially survival of the fittest, the strong have all the rights they can take and hold on to. The herd exists for the benefit of the strong to insure survival of the fittest. In social dynamics the group has all the rights, supposedly, and the leaders serve the group, for the most part. I won't get into the social dynamic power abusers and all that, but I think you can see horses and humans operate on two opposite wavelengths.

When we interact with horses with human motives and characteristics the best we can hope for is a happy medium. As long as each of us can accept the wishes of the other we're spitlessly happy. If we can't, mercy!

Horses need a sense of place. They need to know where they fit in. If you can put a horse in a place where it is completely comfortable and confident (knows exactly what is expected of it) it will be content and tractable.

Strangely, the "it's all about me" climate of herd dynamics is where the horse feels the greatest sense of place. In the herd situation, governed by herd dynamics, is where the horse feels the most secure and confident. Even though the essence of herd dynamics is "take all the rights you can and honor all the rights you can't" all of the horses in the herd know where they fit within the herd rankings.

The principle is simply: Boss the weaker horses while being bossed by the stronger horses.

We as humans can use herd dynamics to place ourselves within the herd ranking or pecking order. Instead of merely reaching a happy medium we can become the higher ranked horse by giving the horse a series of directions we know beyond a doubt we can get the horse to obey until the horse says by its actions, "This being is giving me directions AND I'm obeying them. THEREFORE this being MUST be a leader. If this being is a leader (higher rank) then I must be a follower (lower rank)."

I have people tell me all the time that I, or they, don't look like a horse and the horse is smart enough to know it. Mebbe so, but my response is often, "How do you the horse knows *it* is a horse? Has it seen itself in a mirror? It is not the being the horse is reacting to, it's the "actions" presented to it. Horses are genetically pre-programmed to respond in a set way to herd dynamic actions. Every once in a while someone will send me a video of a chicken controlling a horse in a round pen with the blurb, "One of your students, Marv?

It isn't the being, it's the actions.

A text copy of the procedure that I use to accomplish, come to be known as Marv Walker's Bonder is available for free by emailing my auto responder, In a few moments you'll receive a response telling you some things I want you know (be careful, working with horses is very dangerous) and the web page where it is currently located on the Internet. Click here to email for the Bonder.

I also have a very in depth DVD video that explains and covers the Bonding procedure and demonstrates its consistency with a number of bonder sessions with different horses. Click here to open video info in a new window.

Now we come to the second thing - Acting like a leader.

The Bonder sets up a leader / follower relationship, however one has to maintain the leader position by being ready to demonstrate to the horse that you are the leader any time the horse questions or even outright challenges your leadership.

I recommend the herd dynamics be performed in an enclosure at first so that you can concentrate on understanding how the procedure works and getting the procedure down pat without worrying about actually maintaining physical control of the horse.

Once you understand the herd dynamics concept you can then use this understanding to reestablish your leadership when you feel the connection is lacking or even broken.

For instance, you saddle the horse and start off on your ride and the second the horse decides it would rather be back with its buddies rather than following the leader you dismount and using the reins to keep the horse close to you you begin displaying leadership actions which is essentially saying, "Forget that, concentrate on me! I am the leader!"

After the horse acknowledges your leadership you remount and go on your way. If the horse acts up again, you remind it again.

What you are trying to do is recreate the behavior so that you can drive your leadership home again. Every distraction is an opportunity to reestablish leadership ***SHOULD*** leadership become weakened or broken. The more you maintain the leadership mind set the more your horse will accept your leadership.

I have another DVD on focusing the unfocused, buddy sour horse where a 9 year old girl has exactly the same problem you do but is frightened by her horse. She quickly learns how to pull her circling the drain horse relationship back. Click here to open focusing video info in a new window.

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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