How to Discipline a Horse Without Physical Punishment

Discipline is to cause an unpleasant experience for the horse when he misbehaves, in an attempt to correct the behavior. The horse must learn from the experience, or it is not discipline. Shouting and hitting is the easiest and most recognized form of discipline by humans, however not by horses. Horses are very sensitive to the body language of those around them. A very talented trainer could control, discipline and reward a horse by body language alone. By imitating how horses communicate together, you can send very clean message to a horse. Used with judgment, skill and timing, discipline is a form of communication that the horse understands and an aid to learning which will increase the level of respect shown to you by your horse.

  • Determine what the problem is. Many young horses will buck and release sudden bursts of energy due to playfulness, not malice. Horses confined to a stall and not given much turnout might behave in the same way. There are other breeds of horses that have what are called “hot” temperaments, meaning they are more prone to excitement than other breeds. You must know the horse you are working with, and understand that his age, breed, personality, feeding program and exercise schedule all play a part in how he acts.

  • Calm your horse. If the horse is afraid of something unrealistic (a flapping plastic bag), assure him by using a low voice and patting his neck. This simple gesture can calm your horse immediately. The saying “If you aren’t worried about it, he won’t be either,” always holds true. A calm horse is less likely to explode and exhibit poor behavior (kicking, biting, bucking, etc.).
  • Get the timing right. When disciplining or training a horse, no more than two to three seconds should lapse between what the horses does and when the correction is applied. Horses learn by repetition, but only when they can relate to what you are asking for.
  • Reward the horse. Horses learn by pressure and release. If you want your horse’s mouth to be soft, begin to release as soon as your horse accepts the bit. If you ask the horse to back up, stop asking as soon as he is in the spot that you want him to be. It also goes a long way when you pat and speak kindly to your horse. Horses have keen memories and senses–a gentle but firm trainer will get better results over the long run than someone using brute force.
  • Use a crop. If you are riding and ask your horse to move forward, he should immediately step away from the pressure. If he does not, a tap from the crop on his hindquarters will help him to understand that leg pressure means go
  • Back the horse. If the horse does not respect your space, move him away from you. Backing a horse that is disrespectful during groundwork makes the horse understand that he must stay where you put him.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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