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Headshy Horses

September 1, 2014

Is your Black Hills horse headshy? Shyness is a common issue in horses. Horses that are headshy may flinch, back away, toss their heads, or, in extreme cases, may flatten their ears or even bite. Being headshy is not only bad manners, it can be potentially dangerous, as headshy horses can be difficult to handle.

Your horse could be headshy for a variety of reasons. He could have been improperly trained, and never adjusted to having his head handled correctly. He may have also been handled roughly in the past, and could be reacting out of fear. Horses can also be headshy because of medical reasons, such as vision or dental issues. Some horses are just naturally wary, and think anything approaching them is a threat.

To help a headshy horse overcome his fears, you’ll have to desensitize him to having his head handled. This will only work if the horse experiences the training sessions as positive. If you yell at your horse, or strike him, or try to force him to progress too quickly, he will only become more anxious, which of course will make the problem worse.

To truly help your equine overcome his fears, you’ll need to do some work with him that is focused on his headshyness. There are different methods of training to help horses get over being headshy, but all follow the same basic principle. You’ll have to move in small steps, and slowly teach your horse to trust you to touch his head. Rewarding him each time you touch his head, with a soft word or treat, is beneficial, and can be a great help in moving things along.

You won’t be able to cure your horse in one or two sessions. It will take a lot of time, love, and patience to bring your horse to a point where he not only accepts having his head handled, but enjoys the contact.

If a horse that has historically been calm and accepting of having his head touch suddenly becomes headshy, contact your Black Hills vet immediately, as this could be an indication of a dental or medical issue.

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