Monthly Archives: July 2005

Princess Complex

With today’s horse world being highly recreational there are many horses that don’t have to earn a living. These recreational horses are often very well cared for and sometimes even coddled. I will not use the term “spoiled” as I think a spoiled horse is one that has become a serious problem for his owner. I will say though that some of these pampered horses are well on their way to developing “princess complex”.
Many horses are allowed to behave badly due to the affectionate blindness of a loving owner who thinks that the poor behavior is not serious. This is certainly not always the case and I do believe that a horse deserves to be treated with respect and well cared for. There is a difference between a horse treated with too much affection, too much food and not enough work and a horse that is handled with fairness.

Princess complex is how I like to refer to horses of any age that are coddled and allowed to get away with disrespectful behavior. These horses are often affectionate, seemingly well adjusted and scared of very little. They like their easy life and will tolerate a certain amount of handling or training as long as it suits them. If a horse has become a “princess” or a “prince” for that matter it is because they have been taught to get away with not being obedient. I am not trying to offend those horse owners that pamper their horses but it is my experience that a horse with princess complex is more likely to injure someone than a horse without it.

A horse with little or no handling can be more intimidating to handle than a princess. This causes us to be more cautious when we start the training process. A nervous or scared horse tells you he is concerned about things so we are careful not to get too complacent. A horse that is not used to being handled is often scared and if they react to something we do it is usually in a defensive way. A scared horse is generally dangerous if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A horse with good handling and a disciplined daily routine and training program can also be potentially dangerous but the diligence of the handler ensures that there are established rules to reduce the risk. A horse with a good understanding of basic manners both on the ground and in the saddle will take much less effort to train and maintain those good habits.

With a horse that suffers from princess complex we are often not so careful. These horses are not scared of much due to the amount of handling they have had. Early training progresses very quickly but also plateaus because they realize that if the training continues they may have to work for a living. These horses then start to resist and resent the training because they know that if they put up a fuss they will be allowed to do what they want. They essentially have a temper tantrum and if they react to something it is because they are mad. A mad horse is dangerous because they want to get their own way and if you are the reason they can’t have what they want they can lash out in aggression or frustration.

Once a horse has established princess complex all is not lost but it can be a slow, sometimes difficult process to bring them back to a more manageable, respectful state of mind. Once they have been convinced that life is actually more rewarding for them when they behave many of them will remain well behaved. This of course depends on the handler’s desire and ability to maintain better standards for their horse’s behavior. There are a few that will over time become spoiled because they have a greater desire than their handler to be in control.

The best way to prevent this in the first place is to decide on a set of fundamental rules for both you and your horse. Establish rules that you will consistently enforce and re-enforce if your horse should challenge you. Your rules do not need to be my rules or any one else’s rules but make sure that there are some rules. I generally believe that rules were made to be broken but in this case if the rules are not in place and upheld it might be you that is broken.