Where is the line between being firm and too hard on your horse?

Sunny08

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Just wondering really as has been an interesting debate on our yard recently.

There is one horse on our yard which in my humble opinion thinks is far higher up the hierarchy than it actually is - it will threaten, kick out and bite on yard and when riding will throw tantrums whenever it feels like it has had enough. And it gets away with it and is getting worse. Owner I think takes softly, softly approach but horse basically takes the complete pi** and has really and noticably kicked her confidence in - which I think is sad as she was so excited when she first got him 2 months ago. So she asked another very good rider on our yard to ride him. When this other girl did she basically took none of his rubbish and when he was naughty punished him with the whip not extensively but enough, if he kept fighting she kept fighting till he gave up... there wasn't fear, the horse just trying to be nasty.

Was she in the right or wrong - do you sometimes have to have a battle with a horse to see who comes off the winner...and don't stop till you win.

I am torn between sofly, softly (as this is what I do with my girl and it has always worked - but I have had her since she was a baby) and being a farmers daughter and farmers partner do understand that horses are big animals that need to know their place, however I also think that it depends on the horse, attitude and experiences.

Btw this post is not supporting beating horses or unnecessary harshness it is just asking the question where is the line and is it different for different horses?

P.S. Horse fine with back, teeth and tack checked.
 

Fazzie

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Well if any of mine do step out of line (which ive had in the past) from me being softly softly it can spiral pretty quickly so i always ensure I nip it in the bud, i will give them a slap on the shoulder and change my voice to a stronger tone, and if coblet is naughty on the road i will give him a quick flick with whip on the shoulder to ensure he knows whos boss, and that always seems to work well. he did come to me with no manners and he does have them now
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although being a section d, does sometimes need reminding!!!
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Mithras

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Sounds like the girl got it spot on. Being softly softly most of the time with your horse is ok, but its in horse's natures to push boundaries and if you are softly softly in response, they will think they are in charge! Horses quite like being told what to do.

Unfortunately horses pick up bad habits very easily and then other people have to come along and be firm with them to fix the problem. Sometimes, using your voice harshly will work - if you horse respects you. e.g. my mare had a mild colic the other night, the vet was trying to give her an injection which she didn't want, she towed me backwards and forwards several times before I spoke a few sharp words to her in an angry tone of voice. She immediately stood still, got the injection and recovered. But if I had a horse that wasn't moving off the leg, I would back up my leg aids with spurs or a tap with the stick.
 

katelarge

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Take your cue from how horses treat each other! They will happily spend time and groom and graze with their friends, but if somebody bugs them they will say OI! right away.

It's a case of "if you're good to me I'll be good to you" - there has to be some advantage in it for him, for a horse to bond to you - that you provide him with food, shelter, nice grooming sessions, and you make riding fun for you both. But if he starts to bully for food, push you about, or otherwise change the terms of the deal, then it's up to you as the dominant partner to reassert your position as number one.

How you discipline depends on how sensitive the horse is - some are very frightened by a raised hand (like a predator's paw), and require just a telling off, some really do need a good slap and roar!

I don't think 'softly softly' is something that horses understand so I don't think it does them any good. What I DO think they understand is a bond of affectionate and loyal mutual advantage, where the rules are clearly laid out and someone - the human - is clearly in charge. Being in charge doesn't mean being a bully, it means letting everyone know where they stand and taking responsibility for being clear and consistent with the ground rules.

HTH!
 

Booboos

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I think it depends on the horse. I have one who responds really well to a very quick reprimand (a growl will do now, but he used to need a tap with the stick) the moment he thinks about misbehaving, otherwise things can get out of hand; however I also have three others that would freak out with that treatment and respond much better to the softly, softly approach.
 

kick_On

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My way of thinking is that horses are far to big and strong to have arguement with. So they must be well behaved and know the limits. There bloody dangerous otherwise - here speaks from lady who has very grumpy horse, BUT he defo know where the limit is!!!
 

Wasrandyra

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I am quite 'no nonsense' so if I am convinced that a horse is being naughty/dangerous or ill mannered then I will remind it of who is in charge ... once we have that established - we move on..

Horses that are allowed to walk all over people are dangerous, at the end of the day they are large and potentially leathal so to let them is hugely irresponsible.

I have been barged, trampled and bucked off by enough to know
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Sounds like the girl was right in what she did.
 

little_flea

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Horses are happier if they know where they are in the herd pecking order - and the human has to be above the horse. Agree with other posters that how this is done/the level of "punishment", depends on the horse.
 

tasel

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When my horse does throw a tantrum, she normally gets worked longer until she behaves... so that's my way of dealing with it. If she behaves really well, we'll keep it short.

Basically, if she is nice, I am nice. She doesn't get treaties anyway as I don't want her to learn bullying for food.
 

Cash

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I do think it depends on the individual- i am used to 'telling' my gelding what to do, as he can be a bully, but like all bullies is a coward- so if he tries to p*ss off/mess around, i do tell him of, and use my whip if necessary, as he is just trying to take the p, and he backs down (usually
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)- however, with new boy, he is a lot more 'argumentative' lol, and i find myself having to be a lot more gentle and subtle with him, as if you fight him, he rises to the challenge and fights more.. and will win as he's bigger. (as shown in my jumping lesson last week, when i took a pull going into a fence and ended up going twice as fast
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)
 

Persephone

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When I first got my mare she was slow off the leg but retaliated with a buck if I put the schooling whip on.

I just kept perservering and didn't let her "train" me not to use the whip. She doesn't do it anymore and moves forward off the leg too!
 
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Donkeymad

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I prefer a softly softly approach but there comes a time when you have to step up a gear, and be much stronger. It sounds to me as if this horse knows he can get away with things with his owner, and possibly some very firm handling from her initially will shock the horse into behaving.
 

SnowPhony

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I think it depends on the horse. With some horses if you go too firm on them it just makes things worse, you get an argument on your hands and things spiral out of control. Other horses need a bit of gentle persuasion and positive reinforcement to do the right thing rather than punishment for doing the wrong. Depends entirely on the horse.
 

ldlp111

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i have a mare which i am very soft with ie if she stops its not advisable to give her a smack as she would get even worse just giving her a little growl makes her tense.

whereas gelding i have doesnt take so much notice of smacks etc
 

f_s_

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I think it really depends on the horse.

A horse doesn't understand "maybe" just yes or no. I also think, that as horse owners/handlers we have a duty to reprimand bad behaviour and praise good.

I also dislike constant treats given to horses. I don't want to be mugged just because they think something is in my pocket, and it makes nippy and bad mannered animals.

I am not adverse to a sharp smack (more for shock tactic than anything) but I do think that consistency is the key here.

Horses and ponies being large and heavy animals do need to know who's boss.

IMO I think the girl did the right thing, by not letting the horse get away with it.
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JS65

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[ QUOTE ]
Take your cue from how horses treat each other! They will happily spend time and groom and graze with their friends, but if somebody bugs them they will say OI! right away.

It's a case of "if you're good to me I'll be good to you" - there has to be some advantage in it for him, for a horse to bond to you - that you provide him with food, shelter, nice grooming sessions, and you make riding fun for you both. But if he starts to bully for food, push you about, or otherwise change the terms of the deal, then it's up to you as the dominant partner to reassert your position as number one.

How you discipline depends on how sensitive the horse is - some are very frightened by a raised hand (like a predator's paw), and require just a telling off, some really do need a good slap and roar!

I don't think 'softly softly' is something that horses understand so I don't think it does them any good. What I DO think they understand is a bond of affectionate and loyal mutual advantage, where the rules are clearly laid out and someone - the human - is clearly in charge. Being in charge doesn't mean being a bully, it means letting everyone know where they stand and taking responsibility for being clear and consistent with the ground rules.

HTH!

[/ QUOTE ]

I think you have got it bang on! Nothing more to add
 

lauraandjack

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Definitely depends on the individual horse.

My gelding is a real sweetie and rarely puts a hoof out of line, however he's a sensitive chap and a little growl is normally more than enough!

His next door neighbour however, was only gelded last year as a 4 year old and is extremely opinionated. He would quickly become dangerous if he is not handled very firmly - give him an inch and he'll take a mile. He is, however, very respectful and nice once he realises that you are the boss.
 

Moggy in Manolos

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As others have said, i think as long as the horse is listening you can go softly softly with them, but if my mare has been a wally she has had a firm tap on the shoulder to remind her she has a rider and to use her brain and not her flight response.
I think you have to, and i think this girl was totally right.

Horses are too big and potentially dangerous to know their own strength, i do believe the rider/handler has to be boss.
At my old yard i knew someone who let their horse get away with all sorts, its a shame because i always felt like a bit of discipline would have done the horse some good, instead it had very little respect when it took its fancy
 

hopppydi

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I am quite intolerant of bad manners in a horse as i have a healthy fear of my own mortality! Ive never 'beaten a horse' but i have had situations where i have had to show them who is boss. I find softly softly only works if they have a good bond with you and see you as there leader. I treat them like kids, if there naughty they are told, pack it in or your on the naughty step!!
By the way totally agree with JS!!
 

Sunny08

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Really interesting anwsers which I totally agree with - as I said I do take it softly with my mare but I stand no nonsense and will stamp on things quickly and firmly.
I totally agreed with the girl and thought the response was right and necessary.
 
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