1. Humans making sudden, unnecessary movements—movements that could be perceived as aggression on the part of the human (like chasing them with a plastic bag tied to a whip).
2. Humans cranking their cinch/girth tight all at once. How would you feel?
3. Humans who pick at them incessantly instead of sending a clear message once.
4. Having their neck compressed with anything. Draw reins, nasty hands, doesn’t matter whether or not gadgets are used. NO horse is comfortable with its head in this position, EVER. The only purpose of something like this is to make sure your vet and chiropractor stay employed, since you are creating problems for them to attempt to fix. It’s not like it has anything to do with actual training.
5. Humans who refuse to take riding lessons and instead plop all over their horse like a sack of uncoordinated potatoes. Especially when coupled with (a) clutching on the mouth and (b) hanging on with the feet. You don’t have to be fit and perfect, nor a great equitation rider, but you can work on your riding enough not to feel like a backpack full of bricks bouncing on your horse’s back.
6. Humans who ignore saddle fit and forget to check wither clearance after, not before, their weight is in the saddle.
7. Humans who dole out discipline inconsistently—the same behavior gets no response on Monday, but after the human has a fight with another human on Tuesday it results in a temper tantrum of whipping and yanking.
8. Shoes that don’t fit. If you don’t know what good shoeing is and how to recognize it, just get your horses trimmed while you educate yourself. Few things are more harmful to your horse than shoes that are too small or badly set on.
9. Stall confinement 24/7. If you must live in a horse-unfriendly place such as Los Angeles, which many of us do, it’s your job to get to the barn daily and get your horse turned out, not just ridden and worked. Your horse needs actual R & R where they are loose and nothing is asked of them, just as you like to come home from work, put on the pajama pants and watch mindless TV or surf Facebook to unwind. Horses who get adequate turnout are much less likely to offload their humans unexpectedly.
10. Humans who can’t read horse language. When your horse’s expression resembles Grumpy Cat’s, this means something. Figure it out. Don’t ignore it and then get mad when you get hurt. The horse has very few ways to let you know when they are not feeling well or hurting or frustrated. It’s your job to learn to read ears and eyes and body language so that your horse can communicate with you.
Sure, you can go through life making your horse hate you—but that’s how a lot of people wind up in the hospital. If you prefer the couch in your jammies to the hospital, put a little effort into making your horse see you as a good thing, not a major annoyance and source of pain!
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