Saturday, February 9, 2013

How A Horse Should Behave Part 1

What should we expect?

The title of this, How A Horse Should Behave, sounds like a statement of fact. The truth is, the out come is whatever the expectation is. It is true to my findings that a horse will do exactly whats expected of them. So if we expect them to behave in a certain way, we must behave in a certain way in order to communicate our expectations. The reason a horse misbehaves or doesn't respond the way we would like, is do to us not having a clear understanding of our own expectation and/or we are not showing it clear enough. Expectation is very much like intention. Its more than a thought or an idea of what we want. If we expect something, we must show it clearly and follow it through to the end. It takes action and persistence to get what you expect. The relationship factor has to be in place also. If you expect to much from a stranger, you won't get anything at all. Sometimes our horses don't know us well enough for us to expect much from them either. Even horses that have been raised by you and lived with you for years, may still not know you well enough for you to expect much from them. So if you haven't done so, properly introduce yourself to your horse, and really get to know each other.

So, how should a horse behave? If you ask 100 people you may get 100 answers. But the only answer that matters is the one you give. If you don't have high expectations and don't care, that's fine. Its also fine to have super high expectations and not want anything less. Its all about what works for you and your horse. Now if you are using your horse in lessons or in a therapeutic program, you should have super high expectations. If you don't you will most likely put people and horses in danger. It doesn't matter for you and your horse, but it does matter if other people or horses are involved. We must also think of the vet, farrier, or anyone who may come work on or with your horse. Their safety should be taken into consideration.

In this section I will explain how I expect my horses to behave. It may be hard to explain in writing but I'll do my best. We are doing 2 demonstrations on this subject, one March 30th and one April 27th. Both demo's will also cover what we will be doing in our 4 other clinic topics. This will help people decide if they want to participate in one, or which one would best suit their needs. You can find a complete schedule at on our upcoming events page.

The most important thing I expect of my horse is, that they give me 100% of their attention whenever I am around them. To me this is so important. Not only does it help them always know where you are and keep you safe. It also helps them to be more aware of the rest of your expectations. If they are paying attention to you they will understand you better when you ask them for something. Also this helps teach them to look to you for advise if something should trouble or confuse them. I also expect a horse to at least stand still while I approach them. I don't want them to run away from me at any time, even when I release them after taking their halter off. I never want a horse to think its a good idea to hurry up and get away from me. If I release them, I expect them to walk away slowly or stand there and let me walk away. When putting on the halter, I expect my horse to reach forward into the halter when I present it to them. Keeping their head nice and low so that their poll is bellow my armpit. This way I can, or even a child can put the halter on and see both eyes and ears from above. Being sure not to interfere with them during the process. When leading, I expect them to allow me to lead. Go when I go, stop when I stop, and back when I back. Never trying to pass me or pull on me. I expect my horse to stand still when tied and during grooming and tacking. Not allowing them to move around at all. I also expect them to stand still during mounting, no matter how hard it is for whoever is mounting, they need to stay put and not move until they are asked to. While riding I expect my horse to stay soft a supple, staying focused on me and the direction we are traveling. Not looking all over the place, this just leads to panic. I expect smooth transitions, and full cooperation.

These to me are things everyone should expect. If you don't, like I said earlier, that's fine. As long as there aren't other people or horses involved. They are things you will have to build up to. They will also need maintenance. Every horse out there will test and try to change the rules. Just like us humans do.

In Part 2 of this topic we will discus what it takes to get a horse to behave in a way that suits you. In order to  do that we too must behave in a certain way. Thanks for reading.


  1. I am really looking forward to finding out how to get my horses to stand still while grooming and mounting. They always want to start walking away from the mounting block before I get me feet securely in the stirrups. Thank you for your help.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Many horses have a problem standing still when asked to. The main reason is they really don't know they were asked to. The best way to explain it to them that I found is. Ask them to move, whether it be leading them or having them go around you in a circle, whatever you want, and as many ways as you can. Then ask them to stop. Pay close attention to where their feet are. Now don't ask anything unless they move. If they do quietly put them back in the same spot as close as you can get to it within 5 seconds. If it takes longer they will more than likely get confused. Soon enough they understand that stop means stop and they will wait for other instructions before they do anything else. If they're moving out of nervousness, there is another method I would use but it is a bit long to discus here. I did cover it in "Working With Emotions","Communicating With Flow of Energy",and "Our Energy During Communication." Not directly about standing still for mounting but dealing with the emotions, if that's the problem it should help. Thanks again.

  3. I had an unusual thing happen with my quarterhorse gelding. I had been mounting from the left. He started to move his hindquarters away from the mounting block and would not let me get on. I did the walking in circles and standing process which did not help. Then I lined him up so that I could mount from the right. This is what he wanted. He stands perfectly quiet and waits for me to get on!

    1. That's great you figured out what works. With the utmost respect I would like to say, If you can only do something on one side you only have half a horse. We need to get them to except things from both sides so we don't create a good side and a bad side. I would work on whichever side isn't as good. My nature makes me want to always make it better no matter how good it is.

  4. I would also like to ask, if he was ok with you mounting from the left, and then wasn't, what changed? Is he trying to tell you something about discomfort perhaps? I would always want to check why a horse is happy for you to do something and then not.

  5. I agree, answer every aspect of that Question. But don't make excuses. Some horses push little by little and learn they can get away with things. It could be discomfort and if you think it may be, you need to find out where the discomfort is and prove the theory. We don't want to get into the habit of making excuses for bad behavior. But yes this is a very good point. look back and try to remember how and when it started to come on, so you can figure out what changed.