Cowgirl - Respect

It’s easy to spot a rider that has their horse’s respect, but it’s even easier to identify one that doesn’t. There are a few signs you can look for to see if you are getting dominated by a rude horse. Not only is it frustrating and embarrassing, but it’s dangerous! When a horse exhibits leadership over a person, he loses all respect for them. Here’s how to gain it back!

Is Your Horse Disrespectful?

First, you’ll need to do an assessment of how your horse behaves and whether or not you have his respect. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your horse touch you without permission?
  • Does he rub his head on you or push you over with it?
  • Does he invade your space when you are leading him?
  • Is he rude when you ride him, such as yanking the reins or refusing to stand still?
  • Does he nip or kick at you?
  • Is he hard to catch in the field?
  • Does he paw the ground while you tack up or groom him?

These are just a few signs your horse might not respect you. They could also mean he is frightened or confused, so don’t immediately assume he is being bad.

How To Gain Respect

Just like in a herd, horses need a pecking order. You must establish yourself as lead mare. It’s important to be consistent in your time spent with your horse. Ground work is where it all begins.

You’ll need to ask your horse to move (forward, backward, sideways) his feet. When he does something correctly, reward him. If he doesn’t respond, ask a little stronger.

Try this exercise:

1) Using a rope halter and whip, ask your horse to move backwards. First, you’ll need him standing in front of you. His attention should be focused only on you.

2) Wiggle the rope gently at first. If he doesn’t respond, wiggle it harder. Once he takes a step back, immediately stop asking and reward him by petting his face.

3) Repeat the exercise by asking for more steps. The whip is for reinforcement. A tap on the chest should be given, if he doesn’t respond to the wigging rope.

Make sure you establish you’re the leader in this relationship. No one wants a pushy horse. You must earn your horse’s respect through ground work.