My horse started misbehaving, now what?

In this article, I am going to give you 1. step that immediately solves all small issues.

We might have all been there. You have a great horse that there are no issues with, however, one day he just starts behaving worse in some aspect.

Maybe he refuses to go forward in certain situations and instead starts backing up uncontrollably. Or maybe he starts to eventually throw a little buck.

Maybe he is rushing on the way home when you are hacking out, or he might want to always be walking in front of other horses while hacking out and cannot stand being second or third.

hacking out horse ride

Worsening behavior with seemingly no reason?

Sometimes it is possible to find a reason for the worsening behavior.

Maybe someone else also started riding on that horse, maybe you started doing some things differently, or maybe you are not as consistent.

It could also be caused by moving your horse to another stable.

Change of the environment can cause rather big behavior changes in your horse. Some horses might improve when you change their environment, some might get worse.

It doesn’t depend on what you think of the other stable, maybe you move your horse to a much nicer stable and you think your horse will like it more as well, but he will likely perceive it completely differently than you.

I would say that for your horse the important things are other horses around and how they make him feel, and also the people that take care of him on an everyday basis.

Worse behavior because of health issue?

horses runningSometimes horses start behaving worse for no apparent reason. Sometimes it can be caused by a health issue, however, my guess is that in more cases it is caused by something else.

Let me give you an example.

A horse that was always confident and almost never got scared, all of a sudden doesn’t want to go somewhere. You get hesitant because you do not what is happening.

You will probably try to get your horse to go to the place that he is scared of twice or three times.

However, because he doesn’t want to go and he always just backs up instead of going forward, you decide to just walk around the scary place and continue.

In the next few days, you might encounter a similar problem somewhere else.

Over time it happens more and more often and in more and more places.

Your horse might start doing other things wrong as well.

  • He might start bucking, even though he never did that before.
  • He might start going too fast and be more difficult to slow down.
  • Your horse might start kicking or biting while you are taking everyday care of him.

How do you reliably and easily prevent real problems from popping up?

riding on a horse

But let’s get to the most important part of this article and why I am really writing it, which is how to prevent this from happening.

Horses learn, both the bad habits and good habits, by just “doing something” and seeing what happens.

For example, you ask your horse for canter. He bucks a little bit instead, so you get scared and just stop.

Then you try to ask for canter again, he bucks again, you lose your balance in the saddle. You start thinking about why is your horse all of a sudden bucking and you no longer ask him for canter that day, you will just wait for tomorrow to try again.

The next day, however, it gets a little worse and your horse bucks a little more than the day before. You again do not manage to get your horse to canter.

How does your horse see it?

horse looking at youYour horse simply tried reacting differently on your aid to see what would happen.

Maybe he doesn’t feel like cantering, so he tries to buck instead.

If you stop asking for canter and you just stay in trot instead, or even stop completely, your horse learns that if you ask for canter and he bucks, he will just be able to stop.

If it continues like this your horse essentially starts training and controlling you.

This is part of the reason why some horses become dangerous to even be approached in the pasture.

Most horses just want to stay in the pasture with their buddies, so if your horse starts controlling you and stops having any respect for you as his leader, you can end up with a horse that is too dangerous to even be approached.

You really need to remember this when your horse misbehaves

What you need to do when your horse bucks a little, when you ask for canter, is to just keep asking again and again while gradually increasing the pressure.

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It works the same way when your horse doesn’t want to go somewhere, that he went before, and instead of going forward just starts to back up.

You have to keep urging him to go forward until he starts going forward.

It is not important how long is your horse going to be backing up, it is just important to immediately start urging him to go forward as soon as he starts backing up.

Do not stop urging him to go forward until he stops backing up and starts going forward again.

The same principle applies for every other situation in which your horse starts to misbehave. 

Here is how to solve the problem before it really becomes one

If you react correctly the first time your horse misbehaves, you use adequate pressure and you are just, and keep urging him until he does what you want.

Congratulations, your problem is solved before it really became one.

However, if you just give up and decide to leave it up for tomorrow. You should be ready for a worse behavior than you encountered today.

Every extra day with a developing problem makes it more difficult to solve.

Remember this article when your horse surprises you with some unwanted behavior and you will continue to have an awesome relationship with a trouble-free horse 🙂

My horse started misbehaving, now what?
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