What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Pushy, Lacks Respect, No Ground Manners


A horse’s lack of respect on the ground is undesirable behavior that needs to be resolved. Horses are taught to act this way in the same way that they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive this behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors. They do not have adequate respect for and understanding of their handler.

Horses in pain, especially abdominal pain (colic) or other physical cause, may forget their ground manners. They may compulsively walk forward and push into their handlers. Stallions, driven by testosterone, require a firm hand to maintain respectful ground manners. Horses that are overfed, or fed high carbohydrate feeds and under-exercised, often behave worse.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.
    • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude and appetite. Then look to yourself and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution.

What is required is a consistent approach towards establishing and maintaining good boundaries, and clearly communicating the consequences of breaching those boundaries.

What Not To Do

Hand-feeding horses tends to encourage overly pushy ground manners and lack of respect for handlers.

your vet's role

Some vets have an interest in equine behavior. They may help you with the behavioral problem, or refer you to a qualified trainer who can help. In their interactions with your horse, they may demand basic respect and ground manners in order to get their job done safely and effectively.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • What is your experience level?
  • How long have you owned or leased the horse?
  • What is the horse's experience level and level of training?
  • When did you first notice this behavior?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP