How to Work With an Aggressive Horse

It may be hard to accept, but it’s important to remember that your horse won’t be nice all the time. While it can be a very scary and serious situation, horse owners need to keep in mind that the hooves and teeth are a horse’s weapons and are used by them in the wild for protection.

It may seem like an impossible task, but it’s entirely possible to work successfully with an aggressive horse. Here’s how.

A Behavior Born Out of Fear

An aggressive horse may have developed these behaviours due to mistreatment or simply doesn’t respond to basic natural horsemanship methods and will typically have a strong flight mechanism.

However, you may come across a horse that instead of fleeing will actually fight back and it’s important to remember that this behaviour is borne out of fear. If you don’t know the history of your horse, you may never figure out the root cause of the behaviour, but most horses will not become this way unless mishandled by people.

Equating Humans to Kindness Instead of Harm

If you know your aggressive horse was mistreated by people in the past, the most important part of working with them is to get them to equate humans with kindness instead of harm. We should practise the principles of kindness and trust-building with an aggressive horse just as you would with any other, but it’s also important to keep yourself safe.

When working with an aggressive horse, you need to remain hyper-aware at all times – just like you would with online betting – and become intensely familiar with the nuances of the horse in order to identify when they’ve had enough and are about to lash out.

Standing Your Ground

In order to be successful, you have to show your aggressive horse absolute kindness while still being firm and flexibility must be handled with care. Many aggressive horses take on the human characteristic of “I win, you lose” in interactions which puts us as humans at a major disadvantage as it’s a physical fight we can never win.

A big horse will use its size to intimidate and it’s important that you stand your ground, but to also choose your ground carefully. Be firm, but also give it a rest when you can tell the horse is seeing red.

Working Successfully with an Aggressive Horse

The following tips are useful when working with an aggressive horse:

  • Stand outside of the arena until you are sure that the horse is not going to be aggressive. This could take a few hours or a few months, so patience is imperative.
  • Remain constantly present, hyper-vigilant, and look for signs of aggression.
  • Keep a good amount of space between you and the horse at all times.
  • Learn the triggers of aggression for this particular horse. Does the horse not like eye-contact, being approached while eating, or moved on from behind?
  • Look out for a short-fused horse and cease all work before the horse can lash out.
  • Practise firm kindness at all times.