The animal kingdom has a pecking order, which is very similar to our military. In the military the ranks in pecking order is General down to Private. The General will make the decisions on where to go and what to do, etc.
The rank beneath the General will act like the General, but he will not order to the General because it is the General that orders him. This continues on down the ranks to the bottom of the list. When a new animal joins a group the pecking order shifts. You can use this information to your advantage. You want to make yourself the leader in your horse’s eyes. You want him to look to you for direction and he will obey you.
It will be instinct for a dominant horse to let a more dominant being make the decisions. The dominant being in this case would be you. You will become the leader by using body language showing you are confident. Dominant and aggressive are not the same thing. You want to be dominant not aggressive.
If you have a horse that is a General, you may have to become more assertive. You don’t want the horse to perceive you as a threat. It can be easy to come across as threatening when you are trying to be assertive, but if the horse feels threatened, he will fight back. You won’t be able to win, when the horse fights back.
When they are in the wild, dominant and aggressive horses will tighten their bodies and move quickly with fury to get into another horse’s space. The weaker of the two horses will give in and move out of the space. This is similar to the General screaming an order at the Private and the Private obeys.
When horses are relaxed they express this with slow movement, relaxed and slow steps. Slow movement will draw one horse to another. This is also how they welcome other horses into their space.
When your horse is trying to show you he’s the General, he will show this by a clamped-down tail with pinned ears. To get him to accept you as the General you will move him out of his space. To do this you must match any quick moves his makes with quick moves of your own. You want to make the first strike before he does.
You can do this with a quick arm movement towards him – almost like you are violently shooing away some pesky flies. If your horse is being aggressive, you can use an aggressive tone of voice towards the horse.
You will be able to tell he has given in to you when he turns his head or drops it, relaxes his tail and begins to chew or takes a deep breath. When your horse does this he is basically saying, “Okay, I’ll do what you say because I want to listen to you.” You must pay attention for these signals because they will let you know your horse is in the Private mode and not in the General mode.
After going into the round pen to train your horse, check how he responds to you. If he rubs his head on you or swings his rear end towards you then he is challenging your position as General. If you have a horse that is not dominant, make sure he has confidence. Be extra careful not to be threatening to him in any way.