They might be scared, defensive, or have no idea what you want them to do, but they aren’t trying to dominate you.
Despite what we’ve all been taught for generations, research has shown that horses aren’t a hierarchal species. Any “pecking order” fighting we see in our domestic herds is a result of limited resources, and is not a natural, normal part of herd life for equines. In the wild, the horse who drinks first isn’t the “boss” but instead the one who is thirstiest, which is usually a nursing mare, leading to the “boss mare” myth.
And even if they DID have a solid, stable pecking order, we are not horses, and they know we’re not horses, and therefore wouldn’t expect us to be a part of that hierarchy.
We don’t need to be in conflict with our horse.
We don’t need to dominate them or “teach them respect” – they don’t even have the prefrontal cortex to understand the concept of respect.
We just need to make the behaviours we want to see repeated more reinforcing for our horse than the behaviours we don’t want to see repeated.
It’s not always easy, but it is simple.
You don’t have to be the boss of your horse. You are on the same team.
Learn more about how to communicate effectively – and kindly – with your Miniature Horse in my Understanding Your Miniature Horse ebook