How to get a pushy, stubborn horse to respect you?

Hi! I just joined this site after many months of lurking and desperate to find the answer to a prolonged issue of mine.

So around a month ago I purchased a lovely draft cross mare who is extremely smart that me and my dad work with together. When we first brought her home I think I made a huge rookie mistake-- I really coddled her, and wasn’t really as dominant as my father was with her initially because our other horses act nothing like her. (I even managed to get our 4 year old filly broke by myself.)

So, now I have a 15 hands, overly intelligent, and pushy, bulky mare, and 5’2 me – and you can imagine how it looks.

She does okay when we first come down to the arena to do groundwork because I do my routine of swaying the rope from side to side behind me to simulate a horse’s tail and to let her know if she tries to walk ahead of me she’ll get hit by the rope; easy.

However, once we’re finally in the arena-- when I lunge her, it takes so much effort to get her into lunging. Because whenever I have her on the lunge line and try to get her to go, instead of running in a circle she either backs up or moves to the side. She obviously does NOT respect my personal bubble and the only way she really lunges is in the round pen after a few smacks on the shoulders and arm waving-- and even then it’s no use-- sometimes i have to embarrassingly drag my dad over into the round pen and get him to get started lunging her.

Here’s another huge issue that’s a blatant red flag-- when I lunged her yesterday she KICKED :eek: at me! Which completely surprised me-- but the moment it happened I shouted a loud “Hey!” and attempted to smack her on the butt with the lunge line; but missed. :ambivalence:

Another issue I have with her is how barn sour she can tend to be. Once she get near the barn she will start to walk in front of me to try to circle me and I end up circling WITH her but add in 2 more circles then continue going the other way, (Which I’m guessing is a bad habit.)

I’m honestly lost and I am desperate for help. My dad is a bit of a horse trainer and she respects him-- no doubt. I also need tons of more groundwork-- But how do I get her to respect me knowing how smart she is?

You need a qualified trainer to come work with you and the mare.

I could write a response for every behavior you’re listing, but really you just need some hands-on help. Whichever natural horsemanship program you’re following sound suspect, “swishing the lead behind you to simulate a tail” is not ANYTHING like anyone needs to be doing with a horse. The horse needs to be leading with her head at your shoulder, and anytime she barges forward she needs to be made to back up.

Ditto recommendation for a trainer.

I’ve been meaning to get a trainer out but my dad is really against it and simply states that I should just listen to how he works with her-- I personally feel like what he does obviously works for him but doesn’t work for me.

OP, can you afford to pay for a trainer yourself?

If you’re young, living at home and/or otherwise under your parents control regarding money and horse decisions, unfortunately there isn’t much anyone on this board can do for you. The training needs to be done in person, and you need as much training as the horse does, so you can repeat the success the trainer (hopefully) has when they aren’t around.

Can you ask your father to come show you what he does? Can you have him explain the process, or help you in some way? Can you tell him what you said here, that he obviously has a handle on the mare, but that you are finding it hard to replicate it?

I can definitely pay for the trainer myself and will probably end up doing so. Right now I work with the filly.

`He has shown me many, many times how he handles her and after I replicate it, it works perfectly-- it’s just when I take her out by myself and have to handle her without him there is when I start having problems.

I think I should have also added in that her previous owners spoiled her and gave her tons of leeway to act up.

Just tell your dad that you appreciate he knows what he’s doing, but you have trouble just learning from his example and would like to see if there’s someone that has a teaching style that jives better with the way you learn. :slight_smile: I’ve been there on both sides, teaching/learning with parents is challenging sometimes.

How to get her to respect you? Make her listen to you, and have consequences when she doesn’t. Carry a crop and don’t hesitate to use it. You seem to be a bit timid, which is an absolute no with horses (especially pushy ones).

Start with basic leading, walking and halting. If she doesn’t walk when you say “walk” and start off, smack her with the crop (not tap, smack). If she doesn’t whoa when you say “whoa”, smack her chest. Even a not-very-smart horse will figure it out very quickly.

Never let her win. If it’s questionable whether you can win, don’t even get into it.

A trainer would be helpful, if for no other reason than to teach you how to behave.

Horses are much easier to train and learn much quicker than people I am afraid.

At the moment she is lunging you and you are the one running around in circles and not her.

The fact that she has kicked at you means that instead of wanting to work with you, you are annoying her. If you continue to annoy her she will do more than just that kick.

If she works perfectly with your dad there, then work her with your dad there. Stay safe.

The comment you have made about simulating a horses tail??? I have been around a long time. If you got that advice from your father then pay for the trainer yourself.

I am afraid that comment just made me think that you are a troll. Or that someone is having a lend of you.

You need first off someone to teach you to longe properly. Longe lines are not for smacking. Longe lines are for communicating. Longe whips are occasionally used, judiciously, for smacking. Longeing is an art, and should be learned systematically.

You need help, over and above that which you are getting from your father.

Good luck!

It is less about getting her to respect you and more about getting her to respond to you.

Look up Carolyn Resnick in Escondido:

Hey guys! quick update;

So me and my dad rode the Draft Cross mare and my filly out in the trail, along with a long conversation about her and my horsemanship. -Well first of all, he gave me a quick, stern scold for the rope tail swishing once I broke down the whole idea of it.-
He rode the draft cross, and I rode my filly, and it went a lot better than expected.

At first she tried to challenge my dad by refusing to leave the stall, but once he corrected her, and asserted his dominance she was a dream to ride, according to him.

According to him she’s really green and needs a LOT of work and he’s juggling around the idea of having a trainer help with the relationship between me and her.

Thanks so much for tolerating a bit of my horsemanship ignorance :lol:. If you want I can update on her progress! :stuck_out_tongue:

Please do update us. Your problem is far from unique!

Personally, I’m inclined to baby my horses, & it’s hard for me to get tough, but you really need to be insistent about who’s in charge: That’s just the way they’re wired.

If you have a chance, watch a group of horses in the field. There’s usually one horse who calls the shots, and that horse isn’t polite about where s/he gets to graze, who gets first choice at the hay, who goes to the barn first at dinner time. If you were there at the start of those horses being pasture mates, you’d have seen the dominant horse “training” the rest of the horses to do what s/he wants–kicking, nipping, charging, chasing, generally being aggressive until the other horses learn their place. If you watch a mare with her foal, you’ll see the same sort of process.

I hope your dad lets you work with a trainer! One thing I’m thinking, from your description, is that you are not using a longe whip while longeing. Using a whip will help with the problems you’re having. It is an extension of our arm and expands your personal “bubble”. Point it at her shoulder to keep her out on the circle, snake it behind her to get her to move forward, even give her a smack with it when she kicks out at you. Make sure you get an actual longe whip - it should have a 5 or 6 foot long stiff part, and an equal part that’s not stiff. That will extend your reach 10-12’, and you should be able to get your point across without actually hitting her with it.

Question, if your dad has no problems with the mare, why is he not enough??? What difference would a trainer make??
IMO in best case he would have no problems with the mare, in worst case he would run into problems as well.
Somehow to me it doesnt sound nice to not believe your dad, just because he does not call himself a trainer…

The problem is not the horse; it’s the handler.

First, you need an instructor/coach to come and watch you work with the horse. I’ll bet money she says leave the horse be for a while and take a months worth of longing lessons.

I had nice buckskin mare for a while that decided she didn’t need to pay attention to me. It sort of just “happened” when she was about 5 years old. We were working on the longe and she just stopped working. She moved if she felt like it, but planted her feet if she didn’t. I had been working her with just hand signals and it had been going well. Then it wasn’t. So I got longe whip to extend the reach of my arm and touch her if required. She reacted by laying her ears back and kicking out. About then I knew I had a fight. So we moved to the round pen and I started her walking; just walking. Things were fine for a few minutes then I started to get the “evil eye” and laid back ears. We kept walking. Then she planted her feet. I said “walk” she said “get stuffed.” I popped the whip behind her and she laid her ears back and can at me with both feet. I kept clear but kept pushing and after a half dozen good hits with the lash she started moving forward at the canter. I stopped her and made her WALK. After 10 min. or so of this she started walking and got quieter. Probably she was a bit tired by now. After a few more min. I called her in, she came in, and was fully submissive. Total time was almost 45 min., all at the walk. That was to the left. Then we repeated the process to the right; that took another attempted kick and just under an hour. All at the walk. It didn’t repeat itself ever again.

I was taught how to do this by a very good coach who let me learn on a known, difficult, big QH. It’s physically demanding on human and horse. But done right (did I say all at the walk?) it works, works well, and is usually a permanent fix. Sometimes a second session will be required, but it will be pretty short if the first one is done right. And it usually transfers to saddle work.

So, yes, you need some help. But you need the help, not the horse. Learn how to do this and you’ll have a powerful tool in your “toolbox.”

Good luck going forward.