Never Walk Behind A Horse
by Barbara Power
Note: this is actually an excerpt from the book I am working on. Naughty is an ill-natured, poorly trained example of what a riding horse shouldn't be. Happy is the perfect gentleman (gentlemare?).
Have you ever wondered how to move around a horse and do all that needs to be done if you cant walk behind him?
Good News! You can walk behind your horse, and safely; if you follow a few simple rules. Remembering that safety is a philosophy, you must first consider why walking behind a horse is not safe.
Because he kicks of course!
Let me say right now: if you have a kicking horse, do not walk behind him.
The truth is, that while Naughty might kick just because he knows he can, Happy probably will not. Why? Because he has been taught not to. A well-behaved horse expects people to walk all around him, pick up his feet, brush his tail, and even clean his private areas.
But, horses are living, breathing, intelligent animals that dont always do what a human expects them to. Gentle, well-behaved horses have been known to kick, particularly if they are startled or frightened.
The key is to not frighten them. Always let a horse know where you are, never slap him unexpectedly, or make loud noises when in close proximity.
The safest way to walk behind your horse is to speak to him while placing a hand on his shoulder. Then walk beside him rubbing your hand down his back or side to his hip and on around behind him.
He knows you are there. Most likely, he wont care. But if he doesnt like it, he will back his ears and tense up. Thats his signal for you to back off. Do so. Then find help to teach Mr. Naughty some proper manners.
If a horse does kick, the closer you are to his hind legs, the less likely you are to be seriously hurt. Sounds crazy, but its true. When youre up close, the kick has just started (I didnt say it wouldnt hurt), but when you are two to four feet behind the horse, he can hit with full power.
If he threatens you, ask for help. Do not put yourself in danger.
Yes, a horse learns through reinforcement and every time he intimidates a human, he becomes more convinced that he is the top horse. But the kind of discipline Naughty needs should be done by a professional or at least a very experienced horseman.
If your horse is a Happy horse, he will pay little attention to what you are doing as long as you move quietly and treat him with respect.