How Can I Stop My Mare from Pushing?
Five weeks ago, I bought a seven-year-old Arabian mare named Tally. When I go out in the pasture and call her name, she'll trot right over. She used to follow me aroundbut for the past three days, she's been approaching me and constantly banging into me until I fall over. This is extremely bad, because I bought her for lessons and I'm very worried that she will do this to a small child. I've tried holding her away, pushing her away, and giving her a strong no and a push. How can I get Tally to stop pushing?
There are some horse folksnot mewho feel strongly that you should not give horses treats because they think it will cause the horses to behave in the manner you describe, Deserae. The behavior is sometimes called "mugging." The real reason why mugging occurs is simply because the first time the horse pushed or bumped, the response was to give the horse the desired resource. That resource could be food, attention, or even just moving you from one space to another. Now that Tally has learned the behavior, she needs to learn that it will no longer work.
In cases where the mugging is fairly new and mild, my advice is to simply stand still and wait until the horse stands quiet and still, then proceed with the outcome (treat, attention, etc). However, in this case it sounds like Tally's behavior is fairly extreme and that standing still might be unsafe. So, let's instead have you turn your body so you are directly facing her and simply back out of her space when she behaves in this way. Try to capture times when she does not mug so you can reinforce the correct behavior with a treat, a scratch or other resource she desires. The behavior should soon disappear.