Naughty horse

Harry's story may seem familiar - that of a naughty horse. What can Harry teach us about a horse's behaviour and what we can do?

Harry was a 2-star eventing horse but to him that became rather tiresome. He began stopping at jumps and hence quickly found himself a new home. He was sold as a schoolmaster – which to non-horsey people means a great horses for learners… not quite!

Harry thought it was somewhat entertaining as his learner had very little experience therefore he could run rings around her. He would refuse to hack, refuse to load on his own float (yet readily load onto other floats), run around float parks out of control, refuse to go into arenas and refuse to jump.

Sarah did try to event Harry but he gave such a good impression of a mad horse by rearing and spinning, it was accepted that eventing was not going to happen and Harry could stick to dressage. Sarah decided to get another horse and Charles joined the family. Harry barely tolerated him to start with but decided Charles was good for mutual grooming so he could stay… Sarah wanted to be an event rider after all and with Harry holding his ground, Charles was much more suitable.

Charles actually ended up following Harry’s lead and his ‘instructions’ had sent Sarah into the mud at various events. Trouble for Harry was that Sarah seemed quite committed at staying on and had all sorts of training planned! Uh oh….

Time for some expertise!

The first thing she did was to get a horse behaviourist and veterinarian out. They explained that Harry was a very confident horse which was just a little bit of an understatement. Some of Harry’s behaviours were then explained. Do any of these seem familiar?

  • Nudging to say Hello
  • Stamping feet on the ground
  • Ignoring other horses
  • Rolling on the ground – a lot!
  • Calling to people or horses
  • Pulling faces at people or horses
  • Squeal and foreleg strike
  • Double back leg kick and swishy tail
  • Being naughty out hacking
  • Rushing home

Apparently Charles, on the other hand, was perfect! He was just a little influenced by Harry.

To be fair, Harry had been a bit unhappy recently. His legs were a little sore after all his eventing years so Sarah had his hocks and coffin joints injected making him feel much better!

With Harry feeling better he started taking Sarah out to some dressage events for fun and games every now and then. He loved to be adored after all. He will never be the well-behaved angel horse but together with a behaviouralist and veterinarian, Sarah learned to work with Harry rather than against him.

Have you got a naughty horse at home? How do you work with them? Let us know over on our Facebook page – we love your stories!