• Stop that, stand still, move over, don't bite me! How many times do you catch yourself saying things like this? If you sound like this when you are around your horse, maybe it's time to step up your training.
• If your horse is disrespectful when you are tacking up, or while you are walking him in and out of the barn, he may not think of you as the leader. In a herd, if your horse is not the herd leader, he would not think about biting, kicking at or moving into the herd leader's space without an invitation.
• Your horse should be able to stand quietly while you work around him/her. It is so annoying to constantly correct a horse, putting him back where he was, over and over again. You are wasting valuable time just trying to get him groomed and saddled. This is usually a fairly easy fix. It takes a little work, but it will be worth it. If your horse feels like he constantly has to move his feet, make him!
• If your horse is moving around and won't stand quietly, bring him to as level a place as you have and make him move his feet. Don't just let him walk around mindlessly; you need to push him a bit. Make him trot and change directions until he starts to relax, lower his head, and hopefully lick and chew. These are the signs to look for. Don't overdo it, you may confuse him and miss the opportunity for a breakthrough. Bring him back to where you were, if he will not stand, put him back to work. It usually only takes a couple times for them to realize it is a lot easier to stand quietly than to keep working.
• The key is consistency. You can't do it sometimes and not others. Anytime your horse loses focus and will not stand for you, put him to work. This does not mean he can't look around, or move over to see what, or where a noise came from. It means if you cannot get your job done because you are spending more time fixing him than getting tacked up; you need to tell him this is the wrong answer. As the old saying goes, "Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy!"
• As far as biting or kicking, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior, and it needs to be stopped immediately! If you can't fix it, find someone who knows how! People have said, "Oh that was just a play bite," or "He was trying to get my attention." Anytime it involves teeth or flying feet, it must be stopped. You better let that horse know, in no uncertain terms, that is not allowed.
• This does not mean you have to beat the snot out of your horse! But it does mean you need to find a way to stop it before you, or someone else gets hurt. Make your horse accountable for his actions — you will both be happier!
Donna Mori can be reached at www.amoristables.com (603) 662-9079