When a horse lunges forward with his teeth bared or turns his hindquarters and kicks out, it usually evokes one of two responses in people: fear or offense. The reaction is either to run the other way and allow the horse to get away with the dangerous behavior, or to get aggressive. In both instances, emotion rules the situation, and when it comes to training horses, there’s no place for emotion. As prey animals, horses don’t respond to physical punishment like predators do. That’s why when a horse gets defensive and kicks out, whipping him only makes him react more violently, and slapping him when he bites just turns into a game of “how fast can I bite you before you try to slap me?”
When confronted with an aggressive horse, remember that behavioral problems like kicking or biting are nothing but symptoms. An aggressive horse lacks respect–the true root of his behavior. Earn his respect and trust by gaining control of his feet on the ground and behing consistent about rewarding him, and his dangerous behavior will disappear.
In the video below, Clinton explains how to back your horse for respect.
Read more in the March 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated.