If a horse comes up and grabs hay
out of your arms, or if you drop the
hay and walk away, the horse sees that
you are subordinate. He took food
away from you or caused you to move
out of his space.
That herd dynamic also applies to
when you’re leading your horse and
when you ride. If he perceives that he
can make the choices and control your
space, you invite him to become pushy
and to make decisions about where to
move and how fast to get there.
There are few things more fun than
For example, if you have six horses, lay out five flakes of alfalfa before opening
the gate for the horses to enter. The alpha horse will come in first, followed by
the rest of the herd in descending order with the omega horse last. The omega
horse is at the bottom of the hierarchy and won’t even come near the food if he
perceives there is not enough; he’s been beat up too many times before. Keep in
mind that the hierarchy can change over time—and that some horses will work
their way up through the chain of command.
At feeding time, you must be aware of your interactions with the horses,
especially if you have to enter a pen of multiple horses. When you’re feeding,
you must make sure that you are not backing away from horses and not allowing
horses into your space when you arrive with food.
To be clear about your personal space, wave horses away from the food until
you have dropped it and walked away on your own. Only when you walk away
from the food should the horse take his turn to feed.