Discipline and horses - breaking spirit vs teaching manners. Naughty horse or poor handling?

29 Dec 2013 08:24 245
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This is Tamme in a stable in our yard - he was already broken prior to coming to us and had been doing commercial work, both with his current owner and with his previous owners. Here we explain about his attitude - he turns his quarters towards you on entering the stable (he did this with his owner prior to coming here; in order to catch him she would tempt him to the door with some feed). In our opinion this horse was not suitable for commercial work due to his behaviour - if a member of the public approached him from behind, he could kick. This gelding thinks he is in charge of the handler and this is highly dangerous, especially for horses that are working with the (generally non-horsey) public.
There is a big difference between disciplining a horse and breaking a horse's spirit. Lots of people think horses are only well-mannered because their spirits have been broken and they are afraid to misbehave - this is not true. Horses we train are not frightened of us and they have not had their spirits broken, but they are well-trained, well-mannered, and they trust and respect the handler; this makes them safe, confident and happy in harness. Many people put up with "bad behaviour" or "bad manners" and say "That's just his nature" when it is actually poor training/handling. Just because a horse is well-trained doesn't mean it has had its spirit broken. Exchanging one fear for another is no good - i.e hitting a horse with a whip to get it to go past a noisy lorry - the horse won't trust you and will let you down one day. We train horses to have confidence in themselves and confidence in their driver; even if they are faced with a scary situation they haven't encountered, they will trust the driver to keep them safe and listen to instructions. Although its a partnership between horse and man, man must be in charge. After all, the driver tells the horse what side of the road to stay on and when to stand still at junctions etc; if we expect our horses to obey us without question in those circumstances, we should also expect them to do as they are told on the ground. You wouldn't go out for a drive with no reins and let your horse choose where he wants to go, and at what speed; the horse must therefore respect and obey the driver if they are to be safe in harness. In turn, the driver must keep the horse safe and be a positive trustworthy influence in his life. This is why we can drive young, newly-broken horses in potentially frightening environments in soft rubber bits. Our horses are also kept full of food and fit for the work they do; if they will behave when fresh out the stable on plenty of feed then we know we have done our job and they will be safe when they go home.
Lots of "horse" problems are caused by incompetent handling/bad training; this can lead to the horse being labelled as "bad" when it is actually the people who have caused the issue; rather than admit their own shortcomings, they then blame the horse for being "difficult". We believe it is better to be blunt and speak the truth for the horse's sake, rather than try not to offend people.
This is the same horse that swishes his tail when touched with the whip in the other film. We don't know who trained him originally, but he has been allowed to behave like this. He has been sent to us so we could put him as a pair with Syb (the friesian from Holland) - he was only with us for 2 weeks and in our opinion, although the owner knew he had this attitude, in our opinion he would benefit from further training as he is currently not suitable for the job. He could kick a groom or handler, an unsuspecting member of the public or a customer at a wedding. He would also barge forwards - for example when unloading him off the lorry or leading him out the stable.
The rug also belongs to the owner.

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