you as stronger and more confident leader.
Of course riding after a good rain will give you most all the benefits as well, but the falling rain really makes the adventure a more rewarding and challenging experience.
So dress warm, try and stay dry, get rid of the umbrella, saddle up and take advantage of a good ride in the rain.
It will do you and your horse wonders.
And I assure you, after you are done, you will feel closer and see a better bond between you and your horse.
Sharing the freedom with our horse, enjoying the journey and growth through understanding all make horse ownership worth it. Understanding Horse Fear: I still see far too many people blaming a horse for their instinctive fear responses.
If you think like a horse and see the world as they do, it will help you understand and help them.
Imagine if you were put in a cage with lions, bears and tigers roaming free.
You know these animals will eat and kill you, but the only place that was safe and could protect you was a steel cage in the middle of all these people eating animals.
Would you want to leave this protected cage? If you had to get to this cage, past an open area, can you image the fear you would feel as you ran to the cage trying to beat the many predators around you? Once in this protected cage would you be willing to come out? If someone tied a rope around your neck and pulled you out of this cage past the watching lions, tigers and bears, can even begin to think of the fear you would be experiencing? Welcome to the world of a horse.
The other night I was out in pasture with my horses.
It was about 10 PM, a beautiful night with a little rain falling lightly.
I decided to bring a flake of hay out to the back of the pasture and let my guys eat next to the side of a hill.
It was quite and I was enjoying listening to the horses eat and chew in the quite night.
It was very peaceful and relaxing.
Then in a second everything changed.
As I stood in between my two horses, rubbing them both on their backs, I saw a shadow appear on the hill.
I was looking at the stars and my horses were both relaxed, head down and eating some good mixed grass hay.
As I saw this shadow, I could not make it out, but knew I saw movement.
I also knew that I and my horses were the only ones in the pasture, so I thought.
I got focused on the area where I saw something.
I forgot about my horses soothing chewing noise and I was not relaxed anymore.
My heart rate went up and I was straining to hear and see what I could not.
Then I found it.
It was a coyote.
A very large, not skinny and very healthy coyote.
My first thought was Holy shit, it’s a coyote.
As I watched him, he watched us.
After my initial, “this ain’t good” reaction, I started thinking.
I though, my horses have not seen this guy yet and when they do, I am screwed since I am in the middle of them.
Self survival kicked in.
I knew my horses could take this guy out with one kick, but I did not want to be collateral damage in the middle of their reaction.
So I slowly and calmly stepped back and moved away from their charge or escape path, as to not get trampled in the reaction I was sure was going to happen.
As I moved, I kept my eye on the coyote and he kept his eyes on me.
Did I mention that this coyote was only about 10 yards away during this natural encounter? So after I got to a position where I felt safer (not safe), I started wondering why the horses have not spotted this guy yet.
So I checked the wind direction to see if his scent was being blown towards the horses or away from them.
Oddly enough, it appeared as it if was being blown towards them.
So now I not thinking completely calm but I am wondering if my horses are idiots, are they too engrossed in the good hay to be paying attention or if they were so domesticated that they didn’t realize the danger I was seeing.
So now about 15 seconds have passed and it seemed a lot longer, yet no reaction from my horses, not even a head raise.
I am thoroughly confused now.
How can these horses, perfectly designed for survival, not see this clear threat, which I saw over a half of a minute ago? Then the coyote, decided to get a better look at us and he came a step or two closer, down the hill and towards us.
I am thinking, this coyote must be crazy, he sure is bold, maybe he has friends and something bad is about to happen.
Then, to my amazement, my Mustang calmly lifted his head half way, pinned his ears and gave that don’t come http://www.thinklikeahorse.org/index-3.html[11/3/2012 8:52:31 PM] Horsemanship-Think Like a Horse-Rick Gore Horsemanship ® any closer look.
To my surprise the coyote seemed to understand the message.
The coyote stopped in his tracks, turned away and went back up the hill.
I was in shock, here I was, second guessing these marvelous creatures and the entire time, they knew exactly where the coyote was and what he was doing.
As my Mustang told the coyote to leave, my Quarter horse lifted his head slightly, looked at the coyote and calmly looked at the Mustang, as if to say I saw him too and then they both went back to eating.
Simply amazing I thought.
Once again, I was so caught up in me, thinking I was smarter, I was being so aware, I am the superior being and all the while, they knew.
They knew he was there before I saw him, they knew he was not a threat, they watched him as they ate and they knew when to warn him.
What a great experience.
I was so proud of them.
Here they were, their own little herd, looking out for each other, being alert and aware, knowing how to handle the situation perfectly without panic, running, kicking and just the right amount of action.
All of this without my help or interference.
Wow, once again I have to remind myself, horses know! They know what is going to happen before it happens.
They are more aware than any of us can imagine.
They are the ultimate survival animal.
They are not mean and do not attack.
They only want to be horses and avoid conflict.
They know, because their life depends on it.
So after big hugs and favorite scratches for both of them, it was time for me to leave this perfect herd and go back to my reality.
Then it hit me.
I was never really threatened by the coyote.
I knew that my horses could take this guy on with no problem and I felt safe being with them, part of the herd.
After the warning given by my Mustang, the coyote did not come any closer, however he did walk around us a few times before wondering off.
And when he left he walked the same way I had to walk to get back to the barn.
This changed things for me.
With the herd I felt safe, now I had to walk back, alone, in a dark pasture, in the same direction that the coyote did, after seeing this rather brave coyote circle us as if he was checking us out and searching for weakness.
As I walked back alone, since my herd was not going to leave their nice hay I had brought them, I felt uneasy and vulnerable.
I was walking and looking around quickly.
I was not relaxed.
I was not paying attention to much of anything, but constantly searching for that rather large coyote.
As I got further away from my horses my uneasiness became greater.
I took my hat off and waved and swatted at mosquitoes in an attempt to appear bigger and maybe scare the coyote, that I could not see but was sure was out there.
Somehow the walk back seemed much longer than the walk out.
As I got back to my truck without an encounter (that I knew of, maybe I was being watched) I suddenly got a better understanding of how horses live each moment of their life.
Always uneasy, always watching and looking, rarely relaxing for fear they may miss something and always with that fear of being eaten if they drop their guard, fail to pay attention or get into a position where they can’t run or defend themselves.
I am sure that everyone reading this at one time or another in their life, they were in a situation where they were scared, fearful and felt uneasy.
I hope they can remember this and gain a better understanding of how horses live each day.
And maybe the next time their horse pulls, runs away, accidentally steps on them, reacts to a scary sound or the horse eating baby stroller or bicycle, they will have more patience and understanding that the fear to a horse is real, never ending, deeply instinctive and never done to be mean or bad.
Happy trails, Rick Correction, Respect and Trust: It is hard to say without seeing, but head tossing and throwing can be dominate or it can be communicating come, pay attention to me, displaying pride.
My Mustang does this to me some time, he still thinks he is a stud and I ignore it if it is not aggressive.
He may be telling you that he is not willing to be completely submissive, which is OK, but it also means he is not seeing you as the undisputed leader.
If he has not attacked you, not tried to aggressively bite you, has not aggressively backed into you kicking, then he does not think he is leader, but it will take time to get him to completely submit.
If you push him away too much he will be confused and never understand the right http://www.thinklikeahorse.org/index-3.html[11/3/2012 8:52:31 PM] Horsemanship-Think Like a Horse-Rick Gore Horsemanship ® answer and will get tired of trying to find the right answer, which will lead to frustration and then maybe resentment.
So you have be reading him all the time and willing to accept small submissions.
Move him but release immediately at any sign of submission and let him face you or approach.
You say he is rank, I say he has learned this behavior from inconsistent handling and confusion.
He just wants to feel comfortable and he body and instincts are telling him to take charge to feel safe, until someone (another horse) shows him they are in charge, they understand him, they will be fair and keep him safe, his instincts will not allow him to relax and give in to this new leader.
You have to read him, pay attention and really back off trying to push him and be weary of him since he is a STUD, a three year old is a young horse, still trying to find his place, I don’t think a stud is really a stud until late threes or four or maybe five, treat this horse like a three year old and forget he is a stud and you will project, subconsciously, that you are fearful, over careful, worried, or that you think he is RANK.
He is just a horse looking for fair and consistent leadership, guidance and direction, if you make the right answer clear and easy to find, he will come a long way fast.
Studs get this bad reputation for being ohhhhhhh so bad, so they get treated that way and then become that way, it is a vicious cycle for the horse and it is unfair and sets them up for failure.
Be safe, be careful but treat him like a three year old mare and see if he changes, you have to change what you are doing if you want him to change.
He sounds smart which is why he is not giving in, he has figured out people fast, so he will be a bigger challenge but will teach you more about a horse than anyone ever could.
Learn from him and pay close attention to what he is saying or trying to say and don’t be so fast to see him as “the stud”.
Rick ———- FOLLOW-UP ———QUESTION: Thanks for the advice.
I really appreciate it.
I just want to clarify a few things that I forgot to add.
It doesn’t bother me that he is a stud I am very comfortable around them.
The only time I ever treat them differently is when a mare is around and all I do is keep an eye on him.
I was never worried about him being “rank” either until he did bite and strike at me a few times.
It seemed as though once he trusted me he started to test me and thats why I have “rank” in quotes.
He would try to change directions in the pen without my permission.
He would also come running at me to get me to move out of his way.
He only recently started this.
He never showed any signs previously.
I was happy because we were making such good progress and then he pulled the striking and biting incident.
It was when I was out in the pasture just hanging out with all my horses.
I really like to just sit and watch them.
I am also very in tune with him and reward any slight try he makes towards accepting me as his leader.
I have only had him a week and in two sessions he would face me and allow me to slowly approach him.
By the third session he would put his nose to my hand.
Then I migrated to touching his neck.
Then I went two days without working with him and then he pulled that incident in the pasture.
In those few lessons though he went from being a very stand offish nervous horse to more trusting.
He was actually the first one up to me when I called to my horses.
I know he’s young and he loves to play with his other pals and was wondering if he was just trying to play with me too.
It seemed as though he almost had a spark in his eye when he did that.
I didn’t aggressively move him either just twirled my lead rope at him and he faced me, and I rubbed him.
I was just curious as to why he would display that behavior.
Thank you for your response.
Answer: Well not sure why he did it but it was definitely a challenge to your leadership role and an attempt to push you and move your feet to show his dominance.
I would let him know that upset me and get pretty aggressive in my response and make him think, “I don’t want to try that again”, ” I know that is a wrong response”…
I hear the word trust a lot and not all, but a lot of people (mostly women since 80% of horses owners are women) think if a horse lets you pet him or does not try and kill you they trust you.
I disagree with this, a horse will only trust you if they respect you and you trust them, not respect like stay of my face and respect my space…
Respect like I know you are leader, I do not test you very much, I never try and threaten you, I do not http://www.thinklikeahorse.org/index-3.html[11/3/2012 8:52:31 PM] Horsemanship-Think Like a Horse-Rick Gore Horsemanship ® ever try and bite you or kick you, I know you will win if I try and fight or push you…
That is respect and that is trust for a horse.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my horses, I hug and kiss them, give them carrots from my mouth, but if they show any aggression, they know s**t will hit the fan.
To me that is clear, no confusion, no if’s, and’s butts or coconuts..
With that said, once I make my point very clear, I move on and forget it, I correct just like a lead horse, I will kick you hard and make it hurt, but then I go back to grazing…
Where people miss this is they want to work up slow to a correction, tap, ask, beg, try, do little hits, little rope swings, lots of threats and then it just escalates and what they are really doing is desensitizing the horse to them and their corrections.
Then the horse does not respect and thinks he is being harassed and picked on and get confused and never knows CLEARLY what the right answer is.
Get in and get out, correct hard fast and clear and move on, don’t treat a horse like a kid, with threats of dad coming home, with threats of time-outs, with a bunch of words that mean nothing, correct him fast, show him the right answer and release fast and move on.
This is very important and most horse owners never get it.
So the horse is always testing and they are always fighting and their is a constant yo yo effect in the relationship since the horse is never clear.
This guy may be wanting to play with you which means he sees you as a herd member (good), even lower horses (geldings) will try and play with the leader to learn and grow, some time the leader will indulge this and other times the leader will say no.
Most people always say no since they are afraid the horse will lose respect or hurt them, I think it comes down to confidence and knowledge and the ability to read a horse so you know where and when to draw the line.
Since most don’t know where they use stud chains, keep the horse at a distance, never trust the horse and are deep down scared of the horse…
The horse knows this and there is not relationship or trust there.
If you want a horse to trust you, you have to trust your horse….
Another misunderstood and missed area of horsemanship.
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