Offering her butt!

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Sep 23, 2003
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Been working with a non human liking/trusting mare, she has started to turn her butt around at me when I walk up to her from her side and since she has kicked me before I don't trust her. She is a bit taller and I'm short, so she can be intimdating.

My question is, how should I re-act to this and what do I do to show this is not acceptable?

Thank you all!
Pop her on the butt everytime she turns it to you. They learn pretty quick not to turn to you. If she kicks, then she really gets it on the butt.
Under most circumstances this is aggressive behavior. Since you've stated she's a non-human liking/trusting horse, if she were to do that I'd reach out (either hand or foot) and shove her aside. Being careful of course to watch for an attempt to kick, which would be met with a return (or first off) kick back. Shoving her aside responds to her aggressiveness with a 'power position' attitude of your own in showing her you are 'boss mare'.

That said, I do have a few mares who love their butts scratched, but they are adoring, people-loving horses. So in other circumstances I would answer that in knowing your horses make the judgement call depending on the way they are doing it, and their general attitudes.
Ditto to CountryHaven's second paragraph.

One of the mares I have that always swings her butt to me was a frightened scared mare 3 months ago and she would kick at you given a chance. I would not have called it aggression but rather fear.

I don't know what your mare is like.

Everytime she would swing her butt at me I would place my hand on her rump and apply a little pressure and push her over slightly. She learned that I was not to be feared and now is very loving BUT always swings her butt to me and loves me to rub it!

My mare was just young, fearful and a bit naughty and not used to being handled. She did to me what she would do to another horse. She now knows I am NOT another horse and I do not accept nips or kicks. I also would shout at her if she would push back with her butt when I placed my hand there. It worked very well now we are best of friends!!

Just my experience.
Great suggestions thank you. I could pop her butt with a crop, I wouldn't dare get close enough to shove nor would she let me even touch her to attempt it. We are working on trust, but she is learning she gets a treat only shen she lets me hold her halter and scratch her. She hates that but is giving in....LOL But it takes me several try's before she will let me do it too. We have a long ways to go, not sure we can ever ever come her "wild instincts" but we are working on it. She was raised in a herd of minis in some mountians till she was at least 3 yrs of age and was haltered and sold. So not much human contact. But she has been well trained to lead, knows whoa and minds very well when I lead her plus she was trained to drive too. Her previous owner did a lot of work with her. But you still have to trick her into catching her and thats what I'm working on.
PLEASE do not hit her- she is already scared enough. Turning the rear end is a defensive NOT aggressive action- it only turns into aggression if the horse actually kicks. If you hit her you are telling her she has something to fear, which is exactly what you are trying not to do. You need to get her interested in titbit's- I do not usually hand feed but this would be a valid exception. Once she is interested in food, offer her a carrot and halter her , whilst she is still in the stall and you on the outside. Now walk in and take her with you. Tie her up and do whatever you were going to do- if it is grooming make part of it to get over, in response to a firm push and whatever sound signal you want. I think this mare would respond to Clicker training, I do not have the experience of this to advise so I'll go and get someone who does!!!
Thanks for the heads-up, Fizzy, I'll take the clicker discussion from here.

I have brought around many horses of this sort using clicker training. Do you have a stall that she can get her head over? If so, start this out from the other side of the wall, that way you are both safe, you from her, and she from you. ;-)

There are a couple of ground rules, for safety's sake, that you need to abide by. Always click the behavior BEFORE you reach into your pocket for the treat. Always extend your arm and hand away from your body to deliver the treat. Take the treat to the horse, make sure that the treat is uncovered only when the horse's head is in the position YOU want it to be in.

As for the clicker, I don't use a mechanical one myself, unless I am working the animal at a distance. I simply make a loud click by popping my tongue off the roof of my mouth. Frees up your hands for other work.

While your mare is standing on the other side of the barrier, hold up an object that she can easily see. It may take a while, but she will eventually come over to see what the heck you are doing. Make it easy for her to bump the object with her nose. As soon as she makes contact, click at that moment, lower the object from the touching position, then deliver the treat, following the safety rules above. Now, it may take her a few minutes to come to where you are if she is really scared or for whatever reason is not interested in people. If so, we may have to go to another strategy. Once she is consistently touching the object, you can add in a verbal cue, "Touch," or "Target." Assuming that she begins to "operate the vending machine" on a consistent basis, the next step is to:

Switch whatever object she is touching to the halter. Just a halter wadded up in your hand. Do not try to halter her for the time being, just be happy if you can get her to touch it. Use the verbal cue you installed on the previous step.

Then you will want to gradually open the halter up, clicking and treating along the way. Slip it onto her nose, click/remove it from her head/treat. You will see the steps along the way that will ensure that your mare continues to have little successes, rather than big failures.

Put yourself in her horseshoes. If you were approached by someone you didn't really care for, you might try to avoid that person if you could. If that person rushed at you, you might be frightened and even be ready to hit! But if they walked toward you in a friendly manner holding out a $20 bill, well, you just might stick around to find out what they had in mind.

For more information about clicker training, please take a look at the following web sites: (I wrote this magazine article, and there are a couple of good photos on it showing the safety positions) (all species, even human! :)

Good luck, let me know if you need further assistance.
Thanks Rabbit, I wasn't going to "hit" her. She is just like you said, scared enough. No I would use it to reach over to push her side ways. I shouldn't have said pop her butt. Wrong choice of words.

She just kind of surprised me, not sure if she is meaning as agressive or not, some times she pins her ears, but not with her butt to me just when she turns her head away hoping I'll leave. She does love the treats though, so thats the way to go. I sat in her pen with her last night, took off my gloves and hat, let her smell them then me. She seems to be more curious when I'm just sitting in there with her and will walk right over to me, just no touching. ...sigh..... I hope I can get her to trust me before she has another foal. I think she is open and I will leave her that way till spring. Maybe by then she will trust me enough to handle her babies.
Is she loose? If she's loose and she chooses to stay where she's at and turns her butt to you instead of moving away she is NOT scared. Its a test to see where you are in the herds pecking order. By all means carry a nice long dressage whip and wack her a GOOD one. Make it a REALLY good wack and you may never have to do it again.

I would NEVER give treats by hand to a "maybe" aggressive horse, or you may add BITING to her repertoire.

Horses are HERD animals, and are most comfortable when you treat them that way. Pecking order has to be established with each and every horse.

Good Luck!
I love your thinking about putting yourself in your horses shoes! This is exactly how good horse training has come about and replacing the notion that hitting will get the training done!

ClickMini said:
Put yourself in her horseshoes. If you were approached by someone you didn't really care for, you might try to avoid that person if you could. If that person rushed at you, you might be frightened and even be ready to hit! But if they walked toward you in a friendly manner holding out a $20 bill, well, you just might stick around to find out what they had in mind.

For more information about clicker training, please take a look at the following web sites: (I wrote this magazine article, and there are a couple of good photos on it showing the safety positions) (all species, even human! :)

Good luck, let me know if you need further assistance.


she was in with all the mares, she would come up for a treat and even let me hold her chin while I gave her, her treat, when I was on the otherside of the fence. Then if I was in with the herd, she would come up to me also but only with in arms length and if I reached out she would back up or turn away. She takes a few steps away to I can't touch her, so I put her in a small pen by herself, I walk up to her from her side or her front, she will back away or turn so her butt is facing me. So I'm not sure she is being aggressive at that point. Sometimes she will take a step backwards towards me, ears are still up but it still bugs me and not sure what she is doing then. I usually just walk around to her side again.
Lets sort out a few things here- this is a horse. It does not think it is a human, nor does it think humans are horses. Why on earth would it try to challenge a place in the pecking order??? Would that be what it did if a dog ran into the field?? Would it confuse a dog with a horse?? Sometimes, just sometimes, especially when the horse is isolated form others and forced into an unnatural relationship with a human, a horse will include the human in it's family group and exhibit "challenging" behaviour towards them. I am all for using basic "horse" to help communicate with a horse, but I have never had a horse confuse me for another horse!! Sorry to be so seemingly aggressive about this but I have had all this with dogs and really, a dog very rarely confuses people with it's own kind, in spite of the fashion for believing everything a dog did wrong was a "dominance issue" A horse turns it's bum on you because that is what horses do when cornered and afraid, or unsure, not because they are automatically aggressive and going to kick!! OK, getting down off soapbox now. As you can see this is something about which I feel VERY strongly- I think scared horses come in for a lot of "flak" they do not deserve or need.
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This mare has missed or forgotten ground work. Go back and start at beginning of ground work. Spend alot of time with her training and grooming. In time she will learn to trust and respect you. Time and ground work is all I have for a solution. Oh shoot just send her south to me. I could sneek her in without hubby knowing.

If she were being aggressive she would have kicked you already. When my dominant mare is feeding and another horse comes near she swings her butt, pins her ears and kicks, everytime, she means back off! Your mare is NOT kicking! She is wary of you and getting into a defensive position in case you hurt/hit her. I think if you hit her she will conclude that humans really are a mean bunch and she will have learned NOT to trust you.

IMO they are herd animals BUT they know we are not horses and they don't treat us the same.

I have worked with mares like this some come around really well some stay very independant. I would NOT hit a horse for turning their rump towards me.

She has probably had limited interaction with people and much of it may have been negative, show her it can be pleasant and then the rest is up to her.

It sounds like you are working well with her!
One other common mistake that I see in clicker training that bears mentioning, something you said brought it to mind. Let the mare come to the target object and touch it, do not touch her with it from your action, in order to have a clickable moment. Yes, you can put it into a location that is in her way, which will increase the probability of a touch, but you shouldn't move the object toward her with the intention of a touch. Make it her idea.
You guys are really helping me understand her better. Today I sat with her in her pen, she willing came over. I then put the treat on my knee, she carefully took it off and munched away. It seems like if I let her come to me as I did today she is much calmer and more willing to let me touch her. As I sat there today, she let me rub her forehead!!! Yea!!! I know this is only minor, but for me to be able to do this much with her and NOT be holding her halter, is a big step! I then held on to her halter and pulled her slowly to me and rubbed her chest, she is becoming much more calm, doesn't tense up so much now. I feel like these small steps are really making a difference.

My only worry is she will not let me touch her anymore when she is with the others.

Thanks everyone!
Add in the click at the moment she is doing what you want, followed by a treat, and she will be very eager to seek you out, even when she is in with the other horses.

Since I started clicker training, I do not treat unless I have clicked first. That doesn't mean I can't treat them when I want to, it just means I ask them for some little effort, target on my fist for instance, the click and treat. Or back up a step, C/T.

You are making good progress, and I admire your non-confrontational approach!
What do you think of the idea that the closer you are to the horse the less likely you are to get kicked? Standing just out of hoof range with a horse that backs up to you isn't a good place to be. I think a wary/bossy horse sees that as very threatening. Can you approach her from the side? When you have her haltered, try standing at the side and making her move for you, just to get her used to the idea that she has to give space for you. They don't feel as threatened from the side.


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