Are Horses Stubborn

Maria Garcia
• Tuesday, 06 October, 2020
• 19 min read

This topic has spiraled on social media recently on the back of a post about loading stubborn horses and the horse who “plays dead” to get out of being ridden. I found myself getting called out as stubborn for believing that our current research slightly underestimates what horses are capable of thinking.

horse stubborn she come flickr
(Source: www.flickr.com)


And after feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall being called uneducated for believing we still have a lot more to learn, I wanted to write a blog post to get my point across. This could be learning that if they plant at the bottom of the ramp for long enough, that their owner will give up.

Or it could be something really subtle such as bending through their neck, rather than their body when ridden to “trick” you into thinking they are doing what you are asking. They are doing them as when we first asked them to do something, the “naughty” behavior was the easier option and now they have learned to behave this way each time.

So the first few times you start using your leg, your horse may offer you multiple responses; nothing, going sideways, backwards etc. After all, the horse isn’t a robot, so just because you have put your leg on, they don’t have to go forwards, they choose to so that we remove the pressure.

Sometimes they won’t go forward when you put your leg on and this is where I think the original argument has a problem. But even if the rider asked perfectly, the horse might have been briefly distracted by something, or they might not want to perform that movement for any number of reasons; such as finding it hard, being tired or even injured.

Even Grand Prix horses don’t respond to aids 100% of the time and I think it would be hard to argue that this is an issue with their training. Her final point was that horses aren’t capable of any sort of planning as their frontal lobe is too small and no amount of research is going to change that.

stubborn horse
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Yes, horses do have a small frontal lobe, which in humans is responsible for strategy, impulse control and rationalization. It’s also possible that just because this part of the brain is responsible for these types of behaviors in humans, it might not be the case for horses.

Dogs (and other mammals) also have very small frontal lobes and research has found that they are capable of some level of impulse control. This is a great example of planning ahead as they turn down the stimulus in front of them as they know something better will happen if they do.

This suggests that just because an animal has a small frontal lobe, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of any forward thought. I bought my 8yr old Thoroughbred mare about 6 weeks ago, since that time I have gone to see her and got to know her every day.

Sweet visits where you give some treats and groom your horse do not make a trusting relationship. You have a new a somewhat surface relationship with your horse and should not expect obedience at all anyway.

Deeply bonded, trusting relationships with horses are formed through appropriate action and interaction on the ground and a lot of it. I have written a lot about developing relationships with horses.

horse stubborn wants eat shutterstock
(Source: shutterstock.com)

There is a ton of material within the archives of my help center within the website on that very topic. Briefly, forget riding for a little while as your relationship with any horse is formed first and foremost on the ground.

Techniques for this are easily found by using the search feature within the help center of my website. It is getting the human to want to become a great leader and guide for the horse and then the human learning to develop the skills and techniques to do so that is the hardest part for me.

They think a horse is being bad or stubborn when it resists the human demands for specific action. Please consider that, just maybe, your horse is not bad or stubborn, but does not trust you as yet that it will be safe if it does as you request because you have not shown your compassionate, competent and skillful leadership, as yet.

Sweet visits where you give some treats and groom your horse do not make a trusting relationship. You have a new a somewhat surface relationship with your horse and should not expect obedience at all anyway.

Deeply bonded, trusting relationships with horses are formed through appropriate action and interaction on the ground and a lot of it. I have written a lot about developing relationships with horses.

horse stubborn cbn harness topics riding woman spirit devotion related
(Source: www.cbn.com)

There is a ton of material within the archives of my help center within the website on that very topic. Briefly, forget riding for a little while as your relationship with any horse is formed first and foremost on the ground.

Techniques for this are easily found by using the search feature within the help center of my website. They think a horse is being bad or stubborn when it resists the human demands for specific action.

Please consider that, just maybe, your horse is not bad or stubborn, but does not trust you as yet that it will be safe if it does as you request because you have not shown your compassionate, competent and skillful leadership, as yet. These horses simply refuse to leave the vicinity of the barn or their favorite companions.

The good news is that with some simple training exercises you can teach a stubborn horse to get over his issues and willingly go forward wherever and whenever you ask. GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THINGS Stubbornness can be caused by laziness, fear of the unknown, or a lack of faith in the rider.

You will also move up in the pecking order and prove your leadership abilities, thereby giving your horse the confidence to carry out your requests. The first step is recognizing that this problem is primarily caused by the lack of a “go forward” cue.

stubborn horse hwm
(Source: youtube.com)

It can be cured by teaching a stubborn horse to move forward on command. You’ll need a lead rope, a halter, and a dressage whip.

Stop him and reward with a good rub and a kind word. As your horse starts to understand what you’re asking, begin to move your left hand further down the rope, while still pointing in the direction of travel.

When he’s wonderful with this lesson, teach it all over again on the right side (right hand holds lead rope, left hand holds dressage whip and taps the right hip point). Just remain calm and focused, and stay with him while continuing to “push” forward and tap with the whip until the backing stops.

If you can safely do so, keep your emotions in check, step to the side and let your hand slide down the lead rope (to stay out of striking range of those front hooves), all the while acting completely unimpressed. But I’m going to keep on tapping until you go forward.” Be sure to continue tapping with the whip until he stops rearing and moves forward; otherwise he’ll learn that by rearing he can cause you to change your focus and back off.

Lesson two: groundwork to saddle Eventually, every time you point with the whip your horse will move forward. If your horse moves forward, release all cues and praise him.

stubborn horse quit confidence happens lose being horses riders
(Source: eventingconnect.today)

If this is the case, start bumping lightly with both legs at least ten times, or until he moves forward. In this case, continue bumping with your legs as you start tapping his hip with your dressage whip.

If you’ve done your groundwork properly, he should move forward as soon as he recognizes the tapping cue. LEAVING HIS COMFORT ZONE Once you have these two lessons down pat, begin by riding just a short distance from the barn, then return and praise the horse, showing him he won’t be gone forever.

Leave the barn again and again, going farther each time, reinforcing the right behavior, building a whole new level of mutual trust, and putting an end to his days as a barn sour horse. “WE WANT TO STICK TOGETHER!” The stubborn horse usually has an overwhelming desire to be with his equine buddies whether at the barn, in the arena, or on the trail.

He often has leadership issues with his rider, and feels safer in the company of his equine friends. Even though you may only separate the horses for an hour or two, they can still get very stressed because they don’t know if they’ll ever see each other again.

You need to teach your horses to deal calmly and confidently with being separated from their buddies. The “go cue” lesson is an absolute prerequisite to this exercise, so be sure you’ve got that one under your belt before you start.

horse stubborn things bad lazy gage consider plain anne blaming others
(Source: www.confidenthorsemanship.com)

On signal, the rider on the right will make a small 10’ circle to the right at the same moment the rider on the left makes a small left circle. Your stubborn horse has just experienced a low stress separation, and has been reunited before he had the chance to get upset.

This will relieve the anxiety or fear the horses feel of losing each other forever. As soon as they remain calm performing this exercise, increase the size of your circles to 15’, 20’, 25’ and so on, until they are no longer bothered by the separation.

When your horses are confidently separating from each other at the trot, it’s time to introduce the same exercise at the lope or canter. Do some figure eights, circles, or other patterns, going about 10’ from the fence line then coming right back.

The horse you are riding will be forced to concentrate on his job and will be under your control, but the horse that is loose on the other side of the fence is probably digging a trench, yelling loudly, and generally staying pretty upset. Once you’ve worked the first horse for a minimum of 20 minutes, it’s the “trench digger’s” turn to be ridden.

Do these exercises, and your stubborn horse will become more confident in you as his rider, and more comfortable with daily routines. To learn more about their unique, cross-disciplinary teaching methods, Two as One Horsemanship, visit twoasonehorsemanship.com or call 845-692-7478.

stubborn horses dominant handle
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Our horse, BOZ, seemed fairly obedient at first and obeyed the rein commands well. As time went on, the addition of more pasture and another horse seems to have changed him.

BOZ will not go past about 50 yards of where they normally hang out, i.e. barn, food, fence next to house. I know he understands the rein commands but will fight to stay in his territory.

I have been told by friends that he needs to be made to go where I want him to but I push him to my comfort level then stop. He will side step and/or back up when I try to steer him and when he hears the other horse, Suzie, whinny he heads for her.

As long as you don't force him past his area I spoke of earlier he does really well. Herd dynamics is essentially survival of the fittest, the strong have all the rights they can take and hold on to.

The herd exists for the benefit of the strong to insure survival of the fittest. I won't get into the social dynamic power abusers and all that, but I think you can see horses and humans operate on two opposite wavelengths.

horse lead water stubborn deviantart goodbye drink him saying way take there celsius holdings shareholder unlock value graphics card need
(Source: goodbye-kitty975.deviantart.com)

When we interact with horses with human motives and characteristics the best we can hope for is a happy medium. As long as each of us can accept the wishes of the other we're spotlessly happy.

If you can put a horse in a place where it is completely comfortable and confident (knows exactly what is expected of it) it will be content and tractable. Strangely, the “it's all about me” climate of herd dynamics is where the horse feels the greatest sense of place.

In a few moments you'll receive a response telling you some things I want you know (be careful, working with horses is very dangerous) and the web page where it is currently located on the Internet. I recommend the herd dynamics be performed in an enclosure at first so that you can concentrate on understanding how the procedure works and getting the procedure down pat without worrying about actually maintaining physical control of the horse.

For instance, you saddle the horse and start off on your ride and the second the horse decides it would rather be back with its buddies rather than following the leader you dismount and using the reins to keep the horse close to you begin displaying leadership actions which is essentially saying, “Forget that, concentrate on me! What you are trying to do is recreate the behavior so that you can drive your leadership home again.

She quickly learns how to pull her circling the drain horse relationship back. Click here to open focusing video info in a new window.

horse stubborn hard brat wandering equestrian
(Source: thewanderingequestrian.blogspot.com)

Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth. Jennifer specializes in articles about horse training, care, and purchasing.

If it's not your horse, then ask the owner or guide if the animal is always like that and, if not, if they can see what you're doing that's promoting the behavior. Back pain, ill-fitting tack, an overly-harsh bit, all of these things can make a horse reluctant to go forward.

The owner told me G, a notoriously stubborn Quarter Horse, had “gone for” one of the grooms when she went to saddle him. He was completely unable to go forward, which an inexperienced rider could easily mistake for laziness.

Spurs should never be worn by riders who do not have the experience and muscular control to keep a quiet and steady lower leg. If your leg is bouncing around, then the horse will be confused at best and injured at worst.

Make sure to always use both legs, or some horses will take that as an excuse to go sideways instead of forward. If the horse ignores the heels, then tap it once with the crop or quirt.

stubborn horse wanna don side
(Source: www.youtube.com)

For that matter, some horses will stop being lazy just because you are carrying a crop. While this can be effective, it places you in an insecure position if the horse shoots forward or bucks, and it's kinder to use a crop once than kick repeatedly.

Yes, I know barrel racers do this all the time, but everyone's equitation gets worse when gaming, including mine. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.

Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Horses are very large animals that need to be well-trained and treated gently.

It can be very dangerous if your animal is not able to stand still while you perform basic tasks and necessities upon them, such as grooming, saddling, mounting, training, etc. Horses are very strong-willed and stubborn creatures, and if they don’t want to do something, it can be hard for you to convince them.

Horses can be highly stubborn, and that can get frustrating when you are trying to work with them. Horses are big animals and can be very hard to work with if they refuse to move or cooperate with you.

horse stubborn trekearth rakhal trust government student different horsing around pickin previous pulling fuzzy
(Source: dharmacowgirl.wordpress.com)

Having an animal is quite the task; they cannot verbally express themselves, so you are left confused by their actions. A big source of confusion is how often a horse should be ridden and for how long.

Horses, like humans, get tired after exercise, so it is essential to know how to moderate riding. Horses are amazing animals that were bred and evolved by the hands of humans for centuries.

Along with dogs, horses are the closest thing that humans have to “man’s best friend” and are built to work well with us to accomplish goals and for companionship. If you live somewhere that experiences harsh winters, you will want to make sure you are doing the best that you can for your horses.

Quarter horses are primarily built for shorter distances and sprints. There are some unique characteristics we look for when we want the absolute best horse for endurance races.

Being in the barn grooming, feeding, and otherwise caring for our horses reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves overall health. Yet, it is the companionship with our equine partners that is the foundation of our growth in relationship to these animals.

horse stubborn photoshop
(Source: photoshopcontest.com)

According to PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, there are many types of “equine-assisted activities.” In its broadest sense, any interaction between a person and a horse is an equine-assisted activity. It is a treatment which uses horses to reach rehabilitative goals that are bounded by a medical professional’s scope of practice.

Equine-Assisted Therapy is not an activity run by local horse clubs, church groups, or trainers. Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, which is used by addiction treatment facilities, veterans’ groups, and trauma centers, is always overseen by a licensed mental health professional.

Addicts, the population I work with, often exclaim, “They’re so big!” Indeed, as all horse-people know, trying to get a thousand-pound animal to do what you want is no easy task. Because of these qualities, horses can be used to help people heal from a variety of psychological issues.

Addicts and other trauma survivors have to learn how to identify their emotions in order to work through them. Perhaps a plastic bag blows into the arena during a session, startling the horses.

A client who has experienced child or domestic abuse might break down in tears upon seeing the horses frightened. Any of these kinds of reactions is rich material for talk therapy and can be worked through immediately or in future sessions.

horse stubborn buck stops james
(Source: tracystella.com)

We earn wages to buy feed and tack and maintain horse properties. Whether it is raising children or going to an office, factory, or running a business, we get up early and show up on time.

We listen to our friends, show up for our families, and provide service to our communities. Working hard and showing up in a healthy way are skills that can be learned by engaging with horses.

One common treatment technique for those who were abused as children is to put the (now adult) individual in with a large horse and allow them to interact. Very often, the person will break down in tears and say something like, “I’ve never been treated this kindly by anything so big.” This is an experience the client can then take into the human world.

Equine-Assisted Therapy, particularly Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, can have positive results for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, or a number of other psychological issues. It can help individuals develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, and learn how to trust.

The professionalism of those engaged with equine therapies is what makes them both effective and safe. In fact, one of my most well-used and favorite teaching slide sets is entitled Donkeys are Not Horses.

horse lazy stubborn go forward horses neigh why mule park run
(Source: pethelpful.com)

I first assembled it to outline and explain the biological basis of the many differences in donkeys’ social and reproductive behavior. I and my colleagues learned early on that if you try to breed donkeys as you would horse, things often don’t progress very well.

Over the years my interest and the slide set have grown to include other differences than reproductive that can be equally confusing and frustrating. Donkeys and asses and Gravy’s zebras that evolved mostly in arid regions where forage and water were sparse naturally have a primarily territorial social organization and system of breeding.

The donkeys within an area likely “know” each other, but because resources are typically scarce, they do not assemble in groups and the jennies don’t have the ongoing protection of males. Many of the differences we appreciate in the behavior of our domestic donkeys and horses are attributable to this solitary versus group social organization.

When threatened, horses that evolved in herds, where there is safety in numbers, tend to come together and to move off together following the lead of one or more sentinel animals, much like a flock of birds or a school of fish. Our domestic donkeys generally don’t come together in times of threat and so appear to be more independent within a pasture group than horses.

So all donkeys, both male and female, tend to be fiercer fighters and quicker to fight when cornered than horses. This is why donkeys struggle more than horses with loading for transport or learning to lead in and out of confined spaces.

stubborn horse deviantart
(Source: samietheturtle.deviantart.com)

Another tendency of solitary species is to hide, and donkeys’ coats can effectively serve as camouflage. As prey species, all equips have evolved to show little change in behavior with fear, pain, or debilitation.

This is a huge welfare issue for donkeys, as they can be near death or in extreme pain without easily recognized behavior changes. It is easy to go to extremes, into the range of abusive physical means, since the animal shows only subtle signs of discomfort.

Similarly, fearful donkeys seem to learn much faster than typical horses that they are strong and wiry enough to barge over us to escape negative pressure. We easily make the mistake of thinking they are “stupid.” This is especially the case when we don’t recognize a donkey’s fear.

If you stay away from all negative interactions that can provoke fear, you can see immediately how much faster donkeys make associations than the typical horse, and it doesn’t take long before you can train your eye to recognize the subtle signs of fear and pain versus positive motivational states in donkeys. Most of you know have had those times when you’ve felt like your donkey is being particularly difficult.

When I started keeping donkeys most of my problems were coming from me, not being able to communicate well with them. It’s hard to tell if donkeys are scared sometimes because of their Stoic nature and ability to hide things.

stubborn horse deviantart
(Source: dhundertwasser.deviantart.com)

Fear can be caused by past traumas and if he doesn’t’ trust you he may hesitate to move forward with what you are asking. Horses often want to run when their threshold is being approached, but a donkey may simply turn his head and ignore what’s scaring him.

This can lead people to think he’s being stubborn or difficult. He’s not being bad, he’s just trying to survive the thing he doesn’t understand.

If you suspect fear is a cause in your donkeys behavior, try backing up to before he shuts down or turned away from you. Maybe switch and do something he does like if you are in a training session, then come back to what you think he may be fearful of.

If you are lacking confidence in what you are asking he will know it and it will affect his behavior. I’m not one to put much into a donkey being disrespectful, but they do seem to see their caregivers as part of their herd.

Offer some motivation for what you are asking can be met with enthusiasm and hopefully problem solved. If my well-trained riding donkey refuses to walk on at the voice command, I will add something annoying like bumping my legs or tapping the saddle with the reins until he moves out.

horse stubborn breaking fearful training
(Source: www.youtube.com)

It’s in a donkey’s nature to be compliant and adapt to a situation in the most comfortable way. Donkeys always take the ‘path of the least resistance’ but they do need time to decide for themselves.

Please consider joining my Donkey Training Membership group on Patreon. Proceeds from this group help me have the ability to keep the website and donkey training information available for you and provide you with loads of exclusive donkey training videos.

For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you will get exclusive donkey training videos, training plan examples and more depending on which level you wish to join.

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