Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Alpha?


My trainer has me working with a 3 year old mare that she broke. She wants me to teach her to jump and so far it's been rough. She's very stubborn with flat work and I've been riding her twice a week trying to get her going. I've got her starting to jump but once in a while she will just throw a tissy fit while I'm flatting. I understand that she's a baby and she's still learning but my trainer keeps telling me that I need to be more alpha with her. I know what alpha means and I get what she's telling me, I just don't know how to be more alpha. My trainer thinks the main issue is that she is an alpha mare and she's trying to show her dominance and I just need to prove I'm in charge. How should I go about doing this? What are some ways that I can be more alpha?

Hi Breanne,
I believe your trainer is right. However, from what you have described, there seem to be some "holes" in your horse's foundation work. If the problem would have been addressed in the beginning, you would not have this problem now. Please do not think I'm bashing your trainer. I'm sure they did a fine job. But, sometimes some "little holes" in the foundation that you don't see in the beginning, manifest themselves you can tell.
As your trainer stated, you do have to be "more alpha". To do this, you must get complete control of the feet. Watch some horses in a pasture. You can tell who is the leader and who is the follower. The leader will be able to move the other horses around at will. Simply by using body language. First, they pen their ears back. If that doesn't work, they turn the rump to them. If that doesn't work, they will kick or show their teeth and run at them snapping. The other horse will get the message. But the end result is...the less dominate horse will "move it's feet". That's what you have to be. The dominate mare in the herd. My suggestion is to take your horse to a round pen. With a halter and good lead rope, I would lunge your horse. I don't mean in "mindless circles". I mean to lunge them to the left a couple of circles, and then right a couple of circles. Make them back across the roundpen. Anything to make them keep changing directions. That is the trick. The change of directions. It make take a few sessions, but I believe you will see a big difference in your horse. I'm not really schooled in jumping. So, I will leave that up to your trainer to advise you on that. The main thing is to get control of your horses feet. After all...that is what goes over the jump. Good luck, stay safe and enjoy the horse. Make it fun. Don't forget why you fell in love with the horse to begin with. I hope I have been of some help to you.

Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Bobby Passons


I can answer questions concerning horse training, foundation work, colt starting, western riding, rider confidence and problematic horses.


20 years in horse training. Starting colts, problematic horses, rider confidence and Western riding. I have specialized in training good/safe trail horses. Shown in western pleasure, halter and trail classes. I worked in West Texas gathering wild cattle.


degree in prehospital medicine.

©2017 All rights reserved.