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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Aggressive horse in my care

Good Day,

I am a farm hand at a private farm in a very small city in Georgia and when I took this job to help a friend out, I noticed this horse that was very aggressive towards humans and horses a like, but when I asked about him I was told he was very mean and to stay away, well when you have to pick and groom him some contact was needed. Well close to a year later. I am still side stepping his kicks and bites and some days I can't get close enough to pick his hooves.

So three weeks ago I tried a new approach, after I turn everybody else out I halter him and he and I just spend an hour or so walking the property and it seems to be gentling him, my boys can touch him without him biting or kicking at us most of the time but he will still revert when you least expect it. I guess my question is am I doing anything right or wrong and what more can I do to help him get to a place where he will feel comfortable enough to stop striking out at everything and everybody.

Thank You for your time.

Terri and sons

Hi Terry and sons,

Super question. Thank you. You are doing a lot right. If you gain his trust, you will gain his respect at the same time. Trust is developed via mutually successful interaction/experiences over time. The kids have no agenda to ‘do’ something in particular, so they are safer and more benign than you. You want to groom him and pick out is feet. Therefore you have an agenda and a mind set to control him. Let your agenda be his feelings of trust and safety (they are the same things to a horse). Do this by becoming a leader and not a boss trying to control him. Begin by asking for a few steps forward and a whoa. Repeat this a lot and don’t always groom him. Sometimes simply put rope and halter on, lead a few steps and release him. This will begin to keep him guessing as to what your plan is. Walking around is great. But do a lot of stopping and breathing. RELAX. Get good at gently asking him to back up just a few steps and stop (use a flag or something as a tool to assist you in setting a good boundary). Setting a good spatial boundary (3 feet), consistently will also help to establish trusted leadership and respect. Also, with a boundary you can stay out of range of his mouth and feet. The stopping (whoa) when moving forward is the reward (removal of all pressure of a request for movement). Remember that peace is the greatest reward you can offer a horse for its compliance. Peace (removal of all pressure) is always available for you to offer the horse when you are with it. When we humans are with horses we generally have an agenda of doing something with them (grooming, saddling, riding, etc.). In the wild horses are naturally lazy and just as soon amble about and graze peacefully all the time. They only run when there is a good reason to (like survival) and then only as far as they need to go to feel safe and peaceful again.

Thanks again for your question. Please do let me know how it all goes. Try gently brushing with a soft brush for just a few moments, stop and breath. Repeat and groom like this a lot, intermittently and gradually and see if it helps. Set and keep a boundary but do it with only as much pressure as required. Not too much and not too little. Balanced energy. Horses love this......

Best wishes, Franklin

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