When your horse barges into you or runs over you, he normally evokes one of two reactions on your part: fear or offense. Most people respond to aggressive horse behavior with the instinctive reaction of a big, hard jerk on the halter. Frustratingly though, that approach doesn’t work. That horse keeps on invading your space; he keeps on running you over.
Before attempting to solve any horse problem, the Parelli method of horse training always begins with understanding your horse and your horse’s behavior as the first step toward any solution. Natural horsemanship starts by asking this question: Why is the horse engaging in this invasive behavior? When it comes to an invasive or aggressive horse, there are basically two reasons he would invade your space: either FEAR or DOMINANCE.
It’s natural for a scared horse to crowd you because that’s how they survive in the wild…the safest place is in the middle of the herd! Dominant horses, on the other hand, are pushy. They move others out of their space.
How do you tell which motivation you are dealing with when it comes to your aggressive horse?
If the horse is tense and reactive, he is invading your space out of fear. If your horse is calm and deliberate in the way he’s pushing you around, that’s a dominance issue. Once you know which one it is you can craft the appropriate response.
Doing something simple like jumping jacks or other unexpected – but harmless – behavior will keep a scared horse out of your space without upsetting him. Backing up your dominant horse by wiggling a rope as we teach in our Seven Games DVD will teach your horse to respect your space.
Roughly jerking on the halter isn’t advised with a fearful or dominant horse. It just makes both situations worse.
That’s why Parelli Natural Horsemanship encourages horse owners, riders and trainers to understand their horses, rather than just reacting to their unwanted behavior or using traditional methods of training or punishment. Understanding a horse’s behavior equips you with the best methods of solving problems and does so in a way that is kind, loving, respectful and effective.
If you’re interested in learning more about horses and why they do the things they do, check out our Horsenality DVD which explains horse psychology through understanding different horse personalities. Or enroll for a Parelli Membership for horse lovers interested in developing the highest levels of horse savvy possible!
Visit Parelli Connect for more educational articles and videos designed to inspire, empower and educate horse owners of all levels.