Safety and Handling
Why is it so often that our horses are all up in our space? I'm talking about when you lead them to and from the pasture, go new places or whenever you have a hold of your mighty steed, do they get excited and push you with their shoulders? Or maybe they zig zag behind you clipping your heals and later decide to dart forward and cut right in front of you?
I see this a lot, unless you are some of the few people that say you don't have this problem (which I don't believe you if you say you don't), why do you tolerate it? Or is it a matter of just not knowing how to manage the situation making it clear to your horse this is not acceptable or safe?
I'm not writing this to say I am a perfect handler, even the best horseman deal with these issues. Horses will be horses. The horse I handle the most, my horse Prevost, will test the waters when he gets excited and crowds my space. It's something we are always going to be managing. Just like any other expectation we have, your horse is going to constantly check in with you and make sure he knows who the leader is that day, whether you are paying attention or not!
Realize that horses love to lean on things, it's easy for them, and they are BIG. So if you find your horse leaning on you, crowing you, pushing on you, don't give them anything to lean on. You need to make it feel uncomfortable for them to do this and you will need to be consistent with this 100% of the time in order for things to start changing. If you are consistent with your expectations, he will catch on so quickly and will actually probably appreciate your leadership. Easy enough right?
Finding the balance can be hard. I hear a lot of times, "I don't want to hurt my horse", or "I let him do it because he loves me". I can understand where these comments come from, a good place in your heart for wanting to do the 'right' thing. I most certainly do not want to hurt my horse either and I absolutely love my horse very much. But I can have both of these things with boundaries that keep me safe. I don't think its very possible to hurt my horse in a manner that another horse could when receiving a double barrel kick out in the pasture. And I can love on my horse when its my idea and I invite him into MY space... just different guide lines.
I'm not going to go into detail about how to accomplish any of this in this blog post because there are so many variables, but I just wanted to get you thinking - what are your expectations? Or do you even have any? It's ok if you don't, but I suggest you think about it, get some, and stick to it. Please do not let you horse walk over you, push on you or get mouthy, it can be a dangerous habit. If you need help, there are many talented horsemen and women out there that could help you with this, but for some reason handling on the ground just gets overlooked time and time again. Please stay safe and enjoy time with your horses!