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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - My horse is fearful of people, what can I do to build her confidence in me?

My horse is fearful of people, what can I do to build her confidence in me?

Pattie Asks:


I have a horse here that lived with people prior to us and they chased her with the quad. We are able to walk up to her but she is very unsure of us, scared, hard to catch. And the other day my husband was petting her and she was lifting up her back leg as if she was going to kick. Please help.....what can we do? Right now our pens and everything is under "A LOT" of snow. Can you help us?

Thanks Pattie

Our Trainer Answers:

Unfortunately, horses are not the bravest creatures on the planet. When situations arise where people inadvertently frighten a horse, it can have a long term affect on their psyche. Lucky for us, with time and patience, we can win back their trust and confidence.

Begin by separating your distrustful horse from the herd. Put her in a safe enclosure with some sort of shelter. You must provide food and water for her everyday so she learns to associate you with all good and necessary things. It won't take her long to want to be with you as horses are very social creatures. If you are the only "friend" in her environment, she will come to trust you fairly quickly.

Once your mare is accustomed to her new space and is wanting to approach you in a friendly manner when you bring her food, scratch and pet her (being careful if she wants to kick), let her know that you ARE her friend. Give her a couple days of petting while shes eating her hay, then take your halter out and quietly put it on her and give her a handful of oats or whatever grain you feed. Everyday I want you to catch her and put her halter on and feed her some grain. This should solve your catching problem as well as her fear issue. When she's really good at this, try turning her back out with her friends.

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington