Recently on Horse Master, we were replaying episode 5, “Missed Manners.” It’s about a two year old Andalusian filly who is pushy, rude and disrespectful to her handlers. The barn workers at her boarding stable were totally fed up with the horse, since each time they turned her out or brought her back in, they felt they were taking their lives in their hands. Actually, everyone but the owner saw the horse as a problem and it was actually the owner’s friends and the barn manager that suggested she apply for the show.
There were a few things particularly interesting to me about this horse/owner team. First off, the filly’s dam was the alpha horse, so this filly had copped her attitude from living vicariously through her mother. Sadly, the dam had died a couple weeks before the episode was taped, so the filly had lost her standing in the herd. I think that helped to make her more trainable.
Another thing that was puzzling to me was that Pamela, the owner, was a very skilled and accomplished horse woman. So I couldn’t help but wonder why she hadn’t taught this filly some ground manners—she just somehow let that slip by without noticing. Understandably, Pamela was very distraught over losing the mare, but on the other hand, it presented her with a good opportunity to start focusing on the training of this nice young filly. Just like with children, it’s never the fault of the child if they are ill-mannered and misbehaving—you always have to look to the parents. This filly had no ground manners only because no one had taken the time to teach them to her.
Using the techniques I detail on my Lead Line Leadership video, I showed Pamela some important exercises she could do with her filly to straighten her up and make her fly right. It took almost no time at all before the filly was attentive and learning. She just needed to know the expected rules of her behavior and have some consequences if she broke a rule. This is what happens naturally in the herd (if your momma is not the boss and spoiling you) so it is easy for a horse to adjust to.
All this filly needed was a little structure in her life, to turn her into a sweet and willing young horse. All her owner needed was a little push to start training her. I hate to see young horses learn bad habits and disrespect of humans. When foals are brought up right from the beginning and never allowed to misbehave, they have a much happier existence and they tend to remain obedient and respectful horses all their lives.
So many people today are getting young horses that do not have adequate experience with horses to manage a youngster and they inadvertently spoil the horse, which affects its success later on in life. Have you seen this happen? Or maybe you’ve had firsthand experience? In this case, Pamela was certainly experienced and skilled enough, she just hadn’t made it a priority. Happily, that has changed and Pamela and Millie are well on their way to success.
Enjoy the ride!