This question comes from Melissa in Indiana and is typical of ones like this that I receive on a regular basis. Her situation involves a horse that is just too bossy! Perhaps this sounds familiar to you too? Melissa writes:
I have a 4.5 year old gelding quarter mix I’ve had since he was seven months old. He has had 45 days professional (natural horsemanship) training and that was almost two years ago. I know that’s not much and I’m at fault for him being so pushy because I do not put enough time in saddle!
I just find I’m more easily intimidated and less confident riding since having kids. Very common I’m told. I really want to ride but its more work and aggravation than fun riding him because he’s very pushy, bossy and stubborn! I wanted to send him back this spring for a refresher, however I’m not comfortable with other local trainers in our area because there are not a lot of good stories from fellow horseman; there is a lot of bullying and cowboy riding.
I can’t bring myself to get off my butt to work with him on a regular basis. There’s no excuse but what do you suggest I do without spending a fortune or getting a broken bone from getting bucked off?
What I wrote to her:
I recommend you slow down and get into a connected relationship with your horse; that is, a relationship based on understanding what he is really seeking, which is leadership. If you read my book and watch my DVD about the Waterhole Rituals™, you will see that there is a relationship built on connecting to the very heart of the horse that will solve many of your problems. It does not allow the horse to be bossy or pushy, and it is simple to do.
The first thing I recommend you do is spend some time with your horse at liberty in his pen. Take a 5’ flexible reed or stick, one that is very light or you can use a very soft whip. Your intention is not to disturb your horse or frighten him. You will walk slowly around the pen away from your horse, slowly moving the reed right and left with the reed pointed down at the ground. Then turn toward him and slowly approach. As soon as he moves away from you, you are to turn and move away from him. Repeat this a number of times until you are seeing your horse respond to the lightest suggestion to move away.
This will give you your horse’s respect. It puts you in a leadership position. You are declaring your leadership in your horse’s eyes by taking territory. If your horse becomes panicked or too defensive, then you may need to work with someone who has been trained in my Method.
Keep your horse company by sitting in a chair in his pen and read a book. If he approaches and you feel safe and comfortable, then let him stay close to you. If he is bothering you or if he is too aggressive, then ask him to move away from you. If he is sensitive, then you can move away from him by picking up the chair
and sitting elsewhere.
These exercises will create a closer bond with respect. Plus, they are fun and enjoyable!
Natural Horsemanship from the Ground Up