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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - My horse has been terribly spoiled, what can I do to resolve this problem?

My horse has been terribly spoiled, what can I do to resolve this problem?

Spice Asks:

My mare is so bad tempered. She's been with the same family since she popped into the world, always been spoiled, and she still tries to kick bite, and attack you. When going into field to get her, she is so nasty I feel like crying. She will not stand still when tacking her up and she will not let you on her without a fight. But once you're on, she is the best ever! What do I do with her?


Our Trainer Answers:

A horse that has no respect for a person on the ground, rarely has any when you are riding them. I am surprised to hear that your mare is so well mannered under saddle. Addressing the disrespect on the ground is where you need to begin.

You will need a round pen  to house your mare until you develop a  more respectful relationship with her. I recommend separation from the herd, this way you must provide all her feed and water so she will learn to associate you will all good and necessary things for survival.

It sounds like your mare is extremely aggressive, therefore, always use caution when you go to catch her, she may feel more threatened for a time in a small pen. Go into her pen with your halter and lead rope plainly visible to her so she does not perceive you as "sneaky", sneaking up on her will cause her to go into a defensive state of mind. Approach the mare from the left side to catch her, the instant that she becomes aggressive toward you CHASE HER AWAY FROM YOU and make her work until her attitude changes and she wants to come to you with a good attitude. You may also need to take a whip into the pen for your own safety. You must get through to her that you are always the leader and that there is no question about it! This may take a while the first few lessons, however, timing is EVERYTHING. Do not allow her to stop working until her attitude changes and she is wanting to come to you. Then put her halter on and praise her for behaving respectfully to you.

We are using herd behavior to reform her, so do not feel sorry for her, and do not think you are being cruel or let yourself become upset. Use common sense for beginning these lessons, make sure the pen is safe, the temperature is descent (not 100 degrees out) and your pen has good footing. If your mare is too much for you to handle, then I highly suggest professional help.

As for the not standing still for saddling and mounting, I believe this issue will resolve itself once your mare has a little more respect for you on the ground. I would also like to suggest that you purchase and apply PROBLEM SOLVING by MARTY MARTEN. It is an excellent book published by Western Horseman Magazine. In it you will find many exercises for gaining more respect from your mare though groundwork, I believe it would be well worth the  money for you!

Thank You and Happy Trails,

Christy Mellington