What are some of the good manners every horse should understand to be considered a good citizen?
Here are a few more things I think a horse should understand. Again, they are in no particular order!
6) Being willing to load quietly in the horse trailer. This one is probably one of the most difficult! The minis aren’t as hard because we can literally pick them up and put them in if they are unwilling, not that I recommend doing that! Pushing them and bossing them can cause them to become quite bull headed and disagreeable, giving them a bad reputation. But teaching them to quietly follow and load up is really so much easier than bullying them.
Having a horse or pony that is willing to load right up makes traveling so much less stressful! Sky does get impatient in the trailer and will paw, but she has gotten much better since I made this video! Because it’s something we practice and work on in between our traveling.
7) Vet prep! In this video I show pinching her neck in preparation for being stuck with a needle. Ideally they should learn to turn their head TOWARDS the vet when this procedure is done as it will loosen the neck muscle on that side and be less painful, for both the horse or pony and the vet! So pinching the skin and then having them turn their head towards you and treating for the correct behavior will go a long way to helping them be more comfortable with shots! Then of course messing with their mouth will be helpful for worming and having teeth done. I also will keep a syringe that I fill with apple sauce. I periodically give my ponies a syringe full of apple sauce so they are all very eager for their worming. I don’t even need to halter them! They line up and eagerly grab the wormer tube. I always give them a treat after they have mouthed the wormer down (don’t feed them before worming as it makes it easier for them to spit the wormer out!). Sometimes I will follow the wormer with a syringe of apple sauce!
8) Backing politely. This can be taught using many different methods! I am currently teaching Zorro to back by standing behind him, raising my arms and beckoning with my fingers while saying “back up”. He is at liberty, no halter or lead rope, when I do this and gets a treat for his steps back ward. I started small, treating him when he even thought about backing, with just the smallest movement backward, then worked up to 5 or 6 steps. Now he can back half way around our track at liberty! In the video below I show another method I use for backing. This one allows me to have the pony or horse back up without getting into a pushing fight with them. And I can back them from far away with this method. Also, over time, I expect them to back with their heads down as this will help their top line!
9) Being polite about walking through a gate. Wait for me to open the gate, then walk through, turn and face me, then wait patiently for me to walk through and latch. You can choose how you want your pony or horse to go through gates. Maybe you want to walk through first and they need to wait politely. An open gate is not an invitation! Meaning just because the gate is open that does NOT mean they walk through.
I have been seeing many posts of Facebook about horses that barge through gates and knock people down. For this I would actually have my horses or ponies BACK through gates. This teaches them patience and to wait for you to ask them to go through. Below is a video of my young curly horse learning to back through his stall gate many years ago!
10) Circling quietly and calmly! I do love my horses and ponies to understand the basics of lunging. I do things a bit differently than some, but in this video I show that Sky can quietly back up, wait, then walk off when I ask her to. I expect them to wait until I say they can go and not just back up and take off! I want a solid walk, trot and canter on a circle before I really get too far with the ground driving. Because I will expect them to know what walk, trot and canter means when I am walking along with them. I also like to lunge them with the travois on so we can work on cantering in shafts and I’ll even ask them to jump a jump while wearing the travois before I ever hitch them to a cart.
These are my top 10 manner requirements! What are some manners you like your horses or ponies to have to be considered good equine citizens?