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Becoming the Herd Leader

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Taxi learns to trust her new mom.

Elizabeth,

I wanted to give you a quick update since she’s been here a few days. She’s doing great. Yesterday Cait walked the fence line with her then turned her out.  She was very sensible about the whole thing. She is a bit pushy and mouthy but Cait is applying some natural horsemanship techniques she’s learned to nip that in the bud. She’s been very responsive to that. She turned her butt to us a few times when she wants us to move away and has acted like she might strike out but hasn’t actually done it. We have a no tolerance policy, make her move away immediately using a harsh voice and body language, so I’m hoping she gets over that quickly. When Cait lunged her yesterday she tried to come in, when Cait clucked at her she reared up at Cait.  Cait again used a harsh voice and made her work harder for a short time then Cait asked her to stop.  We don’t tolerate the behavior and know she’s checking to see who is boss.

She really is amazing.  Cait is concerned the behavior I mention above makes her sound bad and wants me to stress she responds well to discipline. Cait and Taxi start working with the dressage trainer in two weeks. He came out to see her and can’t wait to start working with the two of them. He thinks Taxi is going to make a really nice mount for Cait. What makes me so happy is this is the first horse since we bought Pepper that Cait is really, really thrilled to work with.

I’ll  send more picks and keep you posted.

Tina

Elizabeth’s Note: When horses first arrive, you tend to want to love on them and let them get away with things. In reality this is the most important time of all. You need to establish the “herd order”. You need to let the new horse know you are in charge and that the horse is not the leader – you are! If you get off on the wrong foot and allow the horse to take charge, you will have problems later. This is where the people experienced with “Natural Horsemanship” will have the advantage. Working with the horse on the ground and establishing who is boss will make riding the horse all that much easier —  the horse will not challenge your authority. This also gives the horse a sense of security. The leader of the herd is responsible for the safety of the herd. Your new horse will settle in more quickly knowing that someone is watching out and protecting her if you take charge from day one. If you show weakness by being “too nice”, then your horse will have to take charge and try to get away from anything fearful. Tough love works. Clear communication and a calm attitude will put you in charge. There will be plenty of time for snuggles and kisses once the horse respects your authority.

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