This is the subject of this week’s episode of Horse Master which airs today at 5:30p EST on RFD-TV and for you night owls (or DVR users) it comes on again Thursday morning at 2:30a and Sunday morning at 1:30a EST.
For the next five weeks, the shows will be original airings of the episodes we filmed here at my ranch back in June. It was a tough week to film because two of the three days we filmed we were experiencing high winds (gusts of 45 mph) and even had to resort to filming inside for some of the shows.
“Close for Comfort” is this week’s episode about a mare, suffering slightly from PMS (pissy mare syndrome), who bites and kicks at other horses that she deems as too close when you are riding. She’s making unauthorized decisions that should only be made by the one in charge.
She was actually a very sweet, easy-to-train horse that has just not had good leadership. ALL horses must learn this very important rule from the youngest possible age:
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO FRATERNIZE WITH ANOTHER HORSE IN ANY WAY WHEN I AM AROUND YOU.
This includes sniffing noses, flicking ears, showing teeth, herding gestures, swishing a tail, picking up a foot to kick or any other gestures, interaction or displays of herd behavior.
This should be one of the ten commandments for horses and it is a subject I talk about in every clinic that I do. It is of paramount importance not only for your safety and the safety of those around you (horse and human) but it is also a critical issues of manners and respect for authority. Besides, it’s a hygiene issue too—I don’t want my horse sharing snot with all the horses around him.
The safety issue I think is fairly obvious. If horses are allowed to fraternize, sooner or later someone’s going to throw a kick or bite and you or the person you are riding with might get caught in the fracas. I saw my good friend get killed this way when I was 12—so you can see why this has become an important issue for me. She was breaking another all-important safety rule by sitting on the ground by her horse at the time—never sit or kneel around a horse, always stay on your feet.
The manners issue has to do with your horse’s respect for your authority as the leader of the herd. If you are the one in charge, he has no business herding or acting aggressive to any other horses—it’s your herd. And, if he is doing his job, he is focused on you, waiting patiently for your next directive—just like a good first mate to his captain—not looking around, acting bored and looking for a party.
This fundamental rule explains why a breeding stallion can be used in the show ring or go on group trail rides and be tied up right next to another horse without incident, if he is well-trained. Horses are very good at learning and following rules when rules are clearly defined and consistently enforced.
For this week’s episode of Horse Master, it turned out to be an easy fix. First, the owner simply needed to learn about this and step up to the helm, then she needed to know when and how to correct her horse when she breaks the rule. I also taught her how to deal with kicking in an emergency situation, to make sure everyone stays safe.
I hope you get to watch! If you don’t get RFD, you can visit the HorseMaster.tv website, which has links to articles and more information on this subject. There’s also some video clips on YouTube which you can link to from the website or from this blog.
Thanks for reading my rant. As you can tell, this is one of my pet peeves!
Enjoy the ride!
This is a good post and made me think of situations in the arena where my sister and I have let our horses socialize when we are done riding (these are horses that are kept on the same land but not pastured together, but are familiar with each other through trailering, trail riding, etc.)
Also, ten members of our family are meeting up and trail riding in a week and most of these horses have never met each other, and we have some novice riders in the group. Definitely a good safety message I am going to pass on to everyone at the start!
Man, I wish we could get RFD-TV on our Comcast cable. I’ve written them but no response. I would love to see your series.
Keep up the good work.