Chasing a Horse From the Ground Won't Help

12/12/2015

When your horse is overfed and fresh and feeling frisky, lungeing him before you ride will help to get the excess energy out of his system. However, if your horse shies, rears, kicks up or uses other unwanted behaviour when you ride him, there’s absolutely no point getting off and chasing him from the ground. Chasing a horse from the ground or forcing him to run backwards won’t help his behaviour when you ride him.

It’s understandable for a rider to feel worried or even frightened when their horse shies, rears or kicks up and it’s understandable for a frightened rider to want to dismount and work from the ground. Unfortunately, dismounting and chasing your horse won’t help to overcome the problems you’re having when you ride.

Horses don’t relate their behaviour when they’re being ridden to being chased around on the ground five minutes later. Horses only relate the immediate result they get. Horses don’t think “I’ll shy and rear and kick up because that’s dominant behaviour. I’ll show the human that I’m above him in the pecking order. I won’t submit to him.” Horses have no concept of being good or bad. They learn only from the immediate result they get.

When a horse shies, rears or kicks up, the rider invariably becomes unbalanced and hangs on for a few seconds and stops driving the horse forward. So from the horse’s point of view, shying, rearing and kicking up have relieved pressure. Though the relief may only last for a few seconds, from the horse’s point of view, that’s enough to reinforce the behaviour.

The only way to overcome any issues you may be having, is to show your horse that it’s easy and pleasant to do as you ask, and unpleasant when he isn’t doing as you ask. This is the only way you can communicate to your horse what you want him to do.

If it’s easy and pleasant for your horse to move exactly where you ask, at the speed you ask, in the gait you ask and it’s unpleasant for him to shy, rear or kick up, your horse will take the easy option every time.

If your horse shies, rears, or kicks up, it’s pointless to get off and chase him from the ground. Your horse doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t know or care that you think shying or rearing or kicking up is bad. However, if shying, rearing and kicking up are unpleasant for him, and moving forward correctly is easy and pleasant, your horse will look for the easy and pleasant way every time.

Unwanted behaviour must be corrected within a few seconds. Horses don’t relate being chased from the ground to “behaving” when you ride them. Horses have no concept of what you may think is good behaviour or bad behaviour, they just do whatever they see as being easiest under the circumstances.

Read more on this subject here: www.fearfreehorsetraining.com/blog/how-to-overcome-horse-problems

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