Lazy, pushy, ill-mannered, stubborn, dumb, crafty, forward, dominant, alpha, moody, sassy, difficult and rebellious—all of these words are regularly used to describe horses with exactly the same problem.
In the wild, horses regularly perform all of these behaviours. When the horse uses them in a context with humans, they are not trying to be annoying or dangerous. By nature, horses try to maintain comfort and stability, and when they are presented with something uncomfortable they will begin trailing behaviours that removed the discomfort in the past.
Even though these behaviours are natural, when they are displayed towards humans they can pose a safety problem. Unwanted behaviours in horses are not cute, annoying, or scary. They are dangerous. A 400 kg horse that is just being a little ‘pushy’ can easily push its handler right over.
It is easy to see the problem here — we need to exhibit caution to stay safe, but we need to get the job done with the horse as well! This calls for knowledge and wisdom.
We need to fully understand how horses think and learn and what causes their reactions so that we can help them with evidence-based approaches. But wisdom is equally key in judging what method to use and how to employ it.
That’s the key to uncooperative equids.