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Body Language For Getting Respect From Your Horse

Training Question

What kind of body language do you use to “tell” a horse to get out of your space?

Respect From Your Horse
Respect From Your Horse!

Trainer’s Response

The type of body language you use to tell a horse to get out of your space is a strong, sturdy confident stance and motion. When you’d like to ask the horse to get out of your space, stand tall and confident, and walk towards the horse in an aggressive-like manner. What you want to accomplish is to make the horse believe that you are more dominant than he is, and if he doesn’t back away that you will persist until he does.

In the beginning, when I am teaching a horse to get out of my space, I start with the horse wearing a halter and leadrope. I stand facing him, where he is at least 2 feet from me. I wiggle the rope a little bit, enough that he can feel it on his halter. If he does not immediately step backwards, I become a little more aggressive in my “wiggling” the lead rope. The aggressiveness of wiggling the lead rope may even resort to swinging it aggressively the first couple times until the horse gets the point.

I continue with this until the horse understands that I will not stop until he steps backwards. The instant he steps backwards, I stop wiggling the rope and praise him. I then start again with a very gentle wiggle, and work up from there once again. He will soon learn to back up on command with only a slight wiggle of the lead rope. Once he responds to a slight wiggle, I begin to teach him to back up only when I point and wiggle my finger at him. I begin by pointing and wiggling my finger at him, if he doesn’t respond, I begin wiggling the rope, etc.

This helps alot when I am in a situation where the horse knows this cue, but he is acting aggressive and I’d like him to get out of my space. Then, I simply wave my finger at him and step towards him confidently and he backs up away from me obediently. By teaching him to respond to only my finger pointing at him and wiggling, it makes it much easier to get the horse to back up when he is not wearing a halter and leadrope.

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