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Do you own a pushy horse? Ever wonder how he got that way? Horses are not born pushy. They learn from their mother, other horses and then from their owners. They do not naturally know how to behave humans, they are taught. The mother teaches them how to be around other horses, just like your mom taught you to act around other people. Then people teach the horse how to act around humans. 

Horses will naturally get into your space and push you around to get something they want or they will push you to move you, as that is what they do with other horses and that is natural behavior.  If you watch a group of horses eating you will see some push others away from their food. The pushy one usually wins and the other horse walks away. So they are rewarded with more food by their behaviour. 

You have to teach them how to act around humans. If this is done when they are young and everyone makes them behave, then they will be respectful around humans. If sometimes they have to behave and other times they do not, they will become pushy and non-respectful. They do not understand sometimes. No animal does, it’s either yes I can push you or no you cannot push me around. 

So most likely your horse became pushy because someone did not teach him to respect humans or he could have been a very respectful horse to start but you just let him do what he wants, and you reward pushy behaviour. So now you have a pushy horse. 

What do I mean by pushy? I mean you let them push you around. They nudge you when they want food, they push into your space, they paw when they want something or are inpatient, they walk into your space, and they do not stop when you stop walking. They demand their food by screaming or pawing or smashing on their stall. They won’t standstill. They are pretty much annoying to those around you. 

You can teach any horse to be respectful and not to be pushy, but if your horse has had his way most his life it will be harder to do as they will keep testing to see if you will give in. Do not give in. It is best for everyone around for your horse to be respectful and behaved. You must make them behave all the time, not just some of the time. I know some of you don’t care, but at some point, you may have to find that horse a home and I can tell you no one wants a pushy horse. So, in the end, you are just making it worse for that horse. 

If you go to feed them and they bang on stall, paw, or run around the stall. Don’t feed them just walk by. Once they calm down and are just standing there, then feed them, so they are rewarded for behaving. 

If you have them tied up and they start pawing or moving all around being inpatient, leave them tied up. Let them have a hissy fit and then once they are calm and still then take them out of the crossties.

When you are walking make them stay out of your space at all times. When you stop if they do not stop, stop them and back them up 10 feet, repeat until they stop when you stop. 

If you are standing talking to someone and they are trying to touch the ground, eat hay, smell a blanket, talk to another horse, back them up and then put them in the same place, repeat until he gives up and just stands there. You may have to back him up 20 times till he believes you, but each day it will get better instead of worse. 

Everyone needs to be respectful, humans and animals, but the only way they learn to be respectful is for someone to show them and then to make them keep those manners the rest of their life. So stop letting your horse be pushy, you pay way to much money for him to push you around, its time you take control and make him behave. 

Gaye DeRusso
Published on 15-07-2019
Gaye is a lifelong equestrian of varying disciplines, Gaye DeRusso moved from her home on the east coast and moved to the west coast in 2000. She previously had shown and trained in the Hunter/Jumper Discipline before going back to school to become an Orthopedic Physician Assistant. She became interested in Gaited horses after moving to California and realizing how spectacular they were to ride on the trail. With their calm temperaments and smooth gaits, they won her over. She enjoys helping others to improve their horse's gaits and also teaches Gaited horses to canter. She is a great problem solver and has a unique ability to convey knowledge to others.