What is Horse Balking?
Horses balk when faced with two conflicting problems. For example, if a horse wants to go to the stable and you jerk back to pull him on another direction these conflicts have the potential of confusing him.
This is because horses think of one thing at a time. When faced with conflicting messages they can become confused and sullen and stop. It can be quite frustrating handling horse balking, but it is important to remember that your horse is not intentionally trying to misbehave or be stubborn.
What Causes Horse Balking?
There are many reasons why a horse will stop suddenly and refuse to go on, the most common causes being fear, discomfort, pain or learned behavior. In some cases, balking or refusing to go forward may be the result of irritability, anger or previous abuse or maltreatment.
Help for Horse Balking
The next time your horse balks, pay careful attention to when it occurs and what the possible causes may be. It could be a cinch that is too tight, a poorly fitting tack or uncomfortable handling.
In some cases, balking is somewhat of a learned behavior. For example, if you always dismount shortly after entering the gate, your horse will learn that the sight of the gate means time to stop. This can be remedied by changing your routine a little so that your horse will wait for your command before deciding to stop.
One of the most common causes of balking is hesitation and fear. Many horses will become afraid of some sight or sound and will refuse to go further. It is important to pay attention to what could possibly be causing your horse to be afraid, and work on building confidence in your horse and trust in you as the leader.
The best way how to prevent balking is to address the cause whenever possible, and then train your horse out of the habit by making balking more difficult than its worth. For example, if your horse balks, get him to turn in a tight circle, or walk a few feet backward. Then attempt to go forward again. Eventually your horse will realize it’s more work to stop, than if he just goes forward.
When balking is related to fear, irritability, anxiety or mistrust, various homeopathic ingredients can go a long way to help calm your horse. One such ingredient is Chamomilla, which works to calm fearful, angry and irritable horses, and can also be used to remedy restlessness.
Another useful homeopathic ingredient for balking is Kali phos. This ingredient works on the nervous system and is very useful for stressed horses or those with a nervous disposition.
Similarly, Asarum and Phosphorus are recommended for skittish and nervous horses, as they are well known for their beneficial calming and relaxing properties. Lastly, Cina, which is often used to treat tantrums in children, is particularly useful in addressing deep issues stemming from past abuse and mistrust.