Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dealing with a Pushy Horse

I wrote this as a comment on another blog. The horse owner loves her horse but is having problems with him being pushy. The horse is a gelding and she suspects him might be proud cut. I've seen lots of pushy geldings bluff with their owners because the owner thinks like the blogger. In actuality, the horse is being pushy because he can.

Just because a horse has been gelded doesn't mean he's lost his instinct. He's just lost the hormones that drive it. All geldings are capable of some stud like behavior. Especially if they think they are in charge. This particular horse manifests his control right from the start by pushing through the stall door. For the owner to get control of her horse, she must gain the horse's respect on the ground.

The following is the comment I left for her after a particularly frustrating post she'd made about the horse's aggressive, pushy behavior.

Your horse is a challenge because he's not convinced that you are in charge. I've learned that the key to changing the horse's thinking lies in being able to keep the horse's attention 100% on you when he is in your company. Once you can do that the horse will look to you for what to do instead of making that decision himself, ie like rushing through the stall door.

That may sound like a tall order but it's really easier to accomplish than you might think. If you break down the task you want to achieve into many small steps the horse won't assume he knows what you want.

For example. instead of just putting the halter on and heading out the stall door, have the horse take one step away from you off to the right (making a horse give up space to you is big in the horse's mind that you have power over him). Then stop and praise him. Then you could take a step back the way you came, or do another one away from you.
The important part is to do only one step at a time and then stop. When you do try to go towards the door only do one step forward, stop, and then go one or even two steps back and stop. Mix it up and keep the horse guessing but be sure to stop in between to help keep your horse stay calm while he's learning to pay attention. What you are trying to teach your horse is I want your foot here, then here etc, instead of I want you from the stall to the arena and the horse decides how that gets accomplished.

Repeating this practice going through the door and even going down the barn aisle with a pushy horse will put you back in charge. You may have to repeat it for several days or even longer before you have the horse looking to you for what to do, but be patient. It will pay off. Anytime the horse takes even one step ahead of you, back him off and remind the horse you determine when and where he goes.

For more information on how to control a horse see my series on Harvey Jacobs


  1. Good advice MiKael.

    And the cool thing about horses is how when you have the attitude of a good leader, like this article on pushiness, and just calmly expect enforce the good behavior you want, they learn so quickly!!! :-)

  2. I like this post. My gelding which I have since sold after a fair number of years with him, was pushy and everyone thought the same. He even went so far as to oblige my mare. He came to me with issues and my inexperience at the time did not help. He remained pushy from the beginning and though our relationship because of me, not him. In the end, he had my number because I gave it to him and I thought it best that he go to a good home with a fresh start as much as I loved that horse.

  3. this is a good post.

    My horse sometimes is pushy with my husband or 13 yo son when they feed him. It is because they let him get away with it.

    Otherwise he is has good ground manners.

    Pushy horses are not fun, no one wants to be around a pushy horse.

  4. Hi MiKael

    I agree another good post. I have a few horses like this and I know I am the problem, a case of not enough time to devote to fixing the problem. How I wish for a reduced herd.


  5. I loved this post, and thank you so much for your sound and helpful advice.

    I know Ink knows he can push me around sometimes. He has came to me with the mind of a racer; lack of respect for his handler, and ground manners.

    Of course you know this all : )

    He showed his dominance by kicking, biting and lunging. I have spent a most of time, just teaching him that he is no longer a racer, and he does not lead that life anymore.

    Thanks again, and thank you for always offering your words of wisdom on my blog.

    - Keri