Trading Bad Behaviors for Good:
Equine Psych 101 🐎
Here's the thing about bad behaviors. They are generally instinct reactions that animals use when they are in discomfort- trapped, confused, scared, aggravated, in pain, whatever. They may buck, rear, pull back, push into, speed up, back up, or even become aggressive (bare teeth, kick at, bite, strike, charge). The reactions can be to protect themselves, or escape, or get what they want. Some start when they are young or may be acquired later, by accident.
Here's how to change bad behaviors for good. First, don't allow the bad behavior to give them relief from discomfort anymore. Next, teach them a DIFFERENT reaction (the one we want) and make IT give them relief, repetitively. Soon (minutes or hours not weeks or months) they will choose YOUR answer in the future.
Some preferred behaviors they learn themselves. Like when tied to a post. Instinct tells them to pull when they feel trapped. When pulling doesn't work they try giving. That works instead, every time. Soon they learn to give and not pull when tied.
Whatever works for them to feel better they'll do in the future. So we make wanted behaviors give them comfort, and unwanted behaviors to never give them comfort. Setting it up for this to happen is the fun part of the puzzle!
Teach from the ground first!
A horse bucks when mounted-
Wanted behavior: standing still.
While tied, put your hands on his back and walk away before he moves away. Then pat his back rhythmically and move away again, before he moves. If he walks around while you're patting his back, follow him while patting him. Then when he stops, take it away. Repeat, repeat, repeat til til he firmly stays put. Then next step is jump next to him. If he moves keep jumping if he holds still for say 3 jumps then stop. And dont overchallenge him. Make it easy for him. If a jump is too much make it little or further away. Release the concern before he moves, then with repetition he will hold still to get you (the concern) to go away. Grow it like a seed step by step with repetition and increasing challenges. After jumping put a saddle on him. Then step in the stirrup. Lots of stroking throughout to gain his confidence in you.
HAY- Send me your unwanted behavior and I may post some ideas how to switch it out for wanted behaviors.
Thanks for reading!