Not to be confused with scene of a murder
I mean things that some horse owners let the horses they handle get away with, time and time again. Things at the time don't seem like a big deal until the horse hurts you or another person. I think we tend to forget sometimes that horses are still 1000+ pound animals, ready to flee at a seconds notice just like nature intended, but never quite evolved out of no matter how much training we put into them.
I work at many different barns. I handle, ride and drive many different horses. I see many different bad behaviors. Some are mild for example like a horse trying to crowd you when you feed grain and others are downright nasty like a horse trying to take your face off when you feed grain. Some horse owners correct bad behaviour, others avoid it which can cause problems. They might avoid gnashing teeth and hooves every feeding but I don't want to have to dodge a 1000 pound animal, I want the 1000 pound animal to respect me and my personal bubble. Problems can go from one extreme to the next. I always appreciate a horse owner that addresses the problems that arise with a horse then I don't have to go out of the way to teach a horse to respect my space on my own time just to keep myself safe.
100% of problems on the ground come from a horse not respecting you or being afraid of you. Most haven't been taught where your personal hula hoop is or are fearful because they have been given confusing signals in the past or no one taught them. Few are truely devious and know your boundaries and know your signals but try to test you every-single-day.
I have been thinking about ground work lately. Some horse owners let their horses get away with murder when it comes to manners. Some things I find inexcusable. If they don't catch up with you now, they will later for sure. I am not talking the rearing, bucking, striking manners, I am talking things horse owners consider small until they get someone hurt.
For instance a year and a bit ago I got my nose broken. It was completely on the left side of my face. I re-broke it and kept on working only to my mothers horror when I came home that afternoon with a bloody self doctored face. I suffer this summer with the worst allergies I could imagine due to a ruptured sinus cavity. The reasoning? The horses owner did not want to deal with leading her three horses out to the paddock each morning. They acted up and were excited to go out so she just opened the stall doors and let them gallop out. Fast forward she moved from her private barn to one I work at. I went to turn out said horses, opened the first ones stall door to put the halter on and WHAM! Horse face to my nose. My nose lost. Long story short the owner avoided leading her horses when they were being difficult. I noticed this when she trailered them to that farm she had the hardest time with each of them just getting them to the barn because they did not respect her space or commands to walk beside her. In the end my face suffered.
Another one is rubbing after riding. Specifically on the rider/handler but solid objects too. We pay enough for tack why should we let them scratch on things and ruin tack? This was one that happened to a girl I would see at a barn when I was taking care of one horse. She would let her horse rub on her after every ride like it's own personal scratching post. She switched his bit from a d-ring to a full cheek snaffle because he would gape his mouth and the bit would slide through and she didn't want to use a flash. Flash forward post ride and the horse rubbed, catching her armpit with the full cheek and tearing a ligament in it. I remember her coming to me and asking me if her armpit was cut open because it really hurt bad. If you look at it from the point of view of you being able to dictate where you want the horse to be, on the ground and on their back, just like an alpha mare in a herd. You would NEVER see a horse rubbing on the alpha mare because the alpha mare would lay the boots down. Why should you be your horses own personal scratching post? Small human VS 1000+ pound horse, horse is going to win unless you take action to let it be known it's NOT ok to be rubbed on. I do however like to scratch an itchy horses face without them rubbing on me of course. Indigo appreciates a good face scritching after being worked and has never offered to rub on me because she respects my space. Mr. Pony is indifferent though and does not care about being itchy.
Lippy/nipping. A lot of people are opposed to feeding treats by hand. I say it is mostly a) when you give treats. For instance Indigo knows tricks and mr.pony does targets. They only get treats when they have completed a trick or task I have asked of. This way they know the hand that feeds does not open on any random occasion thus they do not look for the hand until they have completed something I have asked of. b) Petting a horse on the muzzle. If you touch a horses muzzle most of the time they will retort with either turning their heads away hopefully or lipping at you. A lot of young horses and especially stallions are naturally going to be more lippy. It's important at a young age horses learn biting is not going to be tolerated. A horse that has gotten used to biting or lipping can be a big problem when it gets older. My friends old gelding used to be leased by an old lady. The old lady would let him bite and lip (and even rub after riding). I was holding him for her one day to mount and he reached over and bit me really hard on the inside of my elbow. All I can say is **** THAT HURT!! It left a nasty black bruise and throbbed for a couple hours after it happened. We both learned the hard way when the next day she went to reach her hand out and he bit her on the palm expecting treats, giving her a HUGE blood blister that burst a minute later trailing blood from one end of the barn to the other. I discovered the blood trail to my shock minutes after she left for home to find a bandage. I promptly checked every horse to see what one maimed itself and was completely puzzled as the BO was until she showed up the next day with a bandaged hand. Lesson learned she put treats in his bucket from then on.
When it comes to ground manners I don't think they speak enough for all aspects of training. Horses are visual body language communicators. If they do not respect us on the ground and we let them shove us around it will translate into ridden work eventually.
What are some things you consider a horse getting away with murder? Any your horses do that you want to correct or things you have dealt with and fixed or watched other people try and deal with? What do you consider the worst in your books?