Friday, December 14, 2012

14th December, 2012 Will he grow out of it?

Courtesy Jo Monck and HorseWorld
I am frequently asked whether a young horse will grow out of his behaviour. The answer is mostly no, although his behaviour might slow down as he mellows. Without guidance and training, no young animals will change their behaviour if it is working for them. It's only if there is a body clock, a biological metamorphosis, that switches off, that behaviour would automatically stop or fade. It's useful to look at the cause of a behaviour. If it is instinctive, automatic, unthinking horse behaviour then it will carry on unless the horse is trained not to do it - this includes, moving things around, biting and kicking. Behaviour caused by pain is unlikely to stop unless the pain goes away or recedes. Behaviour taught by humans - such as barging, invading space, kicking at stable doors, and nibbling, will all continue while they are not corrected and continue to work for the horse. The training or correction doesn't have to be horrible and should be focussed on showing the horse the right thing to do rather than punishing him after he has done the 'wrong' thing. Consistency and timing form a vital part of this.

Accordingly, I would advocate insisting on basic ground rules and boundaries with all young horses. They must not invade space, move me (other than emotionally!), overtake me, bite or kick.