Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Uber Alpha Horse

I thought I should write something about the very very alpha horse.  This horse is the leader of the herd.  This horse would rather die than lose a disagreement.  This is a horse that needs a professional to train him.  My uber alpha horse was in such a significant pasture fight that another horse kicked him in the haunches and ripped his muscle.  The big fella won the disagreement but has a permanent irregular look on his haunches.

My Uber Alpha horse was a free horse to me.  I think that these horses are often misunderstood.  This gelding is 17.1 hands and weighs about 1500 pounds.  Just his size can be intimidating.  He is a horse that needs to be reasoned with and not forced.  I had an interesting winter with him and he is much better this year.

This winter I played with him with obstacles designed to be weird and his reaction was agression.  It was at that point I actually understood the unknown is fearful and he reacts to fear with agression.  Once I understood his fear and agression were the same thing, it became way easier to train him.  I spent some time showing him obstacles that were scary to him.  Because we worked through the obstacles together, he found out that I would help him when things were not going as he had planned.  This made a huge difference to our working relationship.

The natural horsemanship folks would describe this as a squeeze game.  I do believe that a squeeze game that has built in success is a very good way to get an alpha horse to understand that you can be an effective leader and help him in uncertain times.  So for an alpha horse, the squeeze game is about allowing the human to be the leader and as a result making the partnership work.

As a side note an insecure horse relaxes and learns to bond to the human in uncertain times.  The insecure horse had already accepted the human as his leader.

The squeeze game means different things to different brain types.

I am really a dressage trainer but enjoy figuring out what makes each horse tick, it makes the training go so much smoother.  I must say some of the ground work is very helpful to understand how the horse processes information.