Dominant Horse Behavior

Understanding dominant horse behavior allows you to take a horse from aggressive to passive behavior without needing the use of unnecessary force or restraints.

Learning all we can about Horse Psychology is the best place to start and then applying what comes natural to the horse will take us all in the right direction.

The usual goal of a dominant horse is to seek “control” of his/her environmental situation. They are “confident” in making their own decisions and do not particularly like being “told” what to do (especially from humans!). They demand “respect” and only those that can prove otherwise, will they consider worthy. Clever negotiations are in order!

Depending upon the life experiences that the horse has gathered so far will determine how aggressive, bold or angry they can be. So taking this into account is a must.

Here is an example of dominant horse behavior from Ajax/Atlas. (He came to me with the name Atlas but because we are trying to “clean up” his thoughts and start with a clean slate, for now, we often call him Ajax)

Ajax is a 10 year old Thoroughbred gelding ex-race track horse. He was gelding at the age of 7 and his race track career ending with a knee injury (plus I heard that he didn’t win any races!) So out to the trash he went. Two years later, he is now under my guardianship. He is a typical highly intelligent dominant horse. One of the first experiences with him after bringing him into a stall was to watch his anxiety reach baffling heights while throwing his body up against the wall! It told me a great deal about his life experiences!

He was overly dominant with the rest of the herd members too. Biting chunks out of anyone who happened to be in his space or crossed his path. This told me volumes regarding the lack of socialization with his own kind.

Thankfully with a natural lifestyle he and the rest were able to come to agreeable terms. Now Atlas is very herd bound. Go figure! But for a herd animal, that would be natural.

The positive characteristics of dominant horse behavior is that they are usually very fast learners with more go than whoa. The negative aspect and a word of caution is they are also very quick to change their minds and become dangerous. So unless you are comfortable with and have experience, please do not pick this kind of a horse especially if you are new to horses.

Watch this video on Dominant Horse Behavior and notice at the very beginning he challenges me regarding leadership with a big buck toward me (it was farther away than it looks on the video, but way too close for my comfort!). That was the only time I showed my disagreement with his outburst by clapping my hands and saying a big “Hey!” While he continued his outburst, I was merely acknowledging that he preferred to be with his herd mates and allowed him to demonstrate his frustration. I stayed within the middle of the area claiming “my space” with an invitation to join me if he likes. Three minutes later BANG he quickly changes his mind and looks toward me for companionship. And we played side by side for the duration.

My motive was to “allow” my idea to become his idea. This strategy convinces him I am clever and worthy of his “followship”!




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