How to Handle the Angry or Naughty Horse

Does your horse seem to wake up on the wrong side of the pasture often, or have a short fuse? Does he seem quick to anger? Or is he always acting naughty by destroying fences, pestering his herd mates, bucking you off, or spooking even when he is not afraid?

If so, then you probably have a Wood temperament horse … and you probably have your hands full dealing with him on a daily basis.

The Wood Temperament Horse
The Wood horse is the ultimate competitor, and his slogan is “I will win!” The Wood horse seeks to win, whether in the show ring, in the pasture, or against his rider. The Wood horse has an almost limitless supply of energy for competing and winning.

The Wood horse also gets bored very easily, and if not given enough “work” to do, he will try to compete against anything in his environment. For instance, when his herd mates have had enough of him pestering them, the Wood horse still has energy to burn so he will simply go through the fence to find someone else to bother. He can also be quick to anger, but also doesn’t take offense at correction once he has expressed his feelings.

At a show, the Wood temperament horse may spook or pick a fight with another horse just to create some entertainment. If he manages to get his rider off at a show, he may then run around the show grounds for hours, eluding dozens of people before being caught … and he will be delighted with himself for having “won” over a bunch of humans.

So Why Have a Wood Horse?
Good question. So far the Wood horse seems like a gigantic pain in the rear so why would anyone want a Wood horse at all? Well, in truth, a lot of people don’t get along with Wood temperament horses and tend to move them along to other owners.

But some people love having a Wood horse. These people are usually pros or very skilled amateur riders. With the right kind of firm guidance, the Wood horse is unbeatable in almost any speed discipline. He is, after all, the ultimate competitor and has the endless will to win. If you can channel the Wood horse’s competitive spirit and keep up with his high energy level, you can win.

The Wood horse can excel in racing, roping, reining, cutting, jumping, barrel racing, pole bending, penning, polo, or just about any rough-and-tumble sport that requires speed, endurance, and a will to win. Just don’t try to put him in a competition that requires repetition or refinement. Force a Wood horse to do dressage test and you can expect fireworks in the form of bucking, rearing, and runaways. On the other hand, if you pit a Wood horse against a cow, the cow had better watch out!

Wood Horse or Troubled Horse?
Of course, the typical mischievous behavior of a Wood temperament horse might also be the behavior of a troubled horse of a different temperament. For instance, a troubled Metal horse with body pain can be expected to buck, and the Fire horse who feels abandoned can run away.

So how can you tell the difference?

You have to look at the big picture. The Fire horse may run but won’t pester herd mates endlessly. The Metal horse may buck in protest but won’t destroy fences and other objects in his environment out of boredom. Overall, if you see a horse who acts like a juvenile delinquent who needs to be sent to boot camp, chances are that you are looking at a Wood horse.

Val: The Ultimate Wood Horse
Val, a mustang mare, is a perfect example of a Wood horse who can be either a fabulous competitor or a pain in everyone’s rear! Val was well-started and won in the jumper ring and sorting pen, but has always been high-spirited and difficult to handle. Teaching Val how to rope was no different. Three to four roping practices per month were not enough to keep Val engaged, and she frequently bucked, ran away, bolted out of the box, or ran past the steer. In fact, the only time the mare did well is when she was worked hard two days in a row at roping practice.

Finally, Val’s owner decided to put the mare with a trainer who was able to handle the Wood horse temperament. Because Val often acted “spooky” in the roping box as a way to rid herself of her rider, the trainer simply put Val in a pen behind the roping box, where she got to watch run after roping run. The trainer also put the mare to work every single day. Best of all, Val was asked to drag steers around, which she absolutely loved because it pitted her against the steers! Today, Val is emerging as a confident, calm, and competitive rope horse who will be ready to compete this coming spring. The only catch is that her human will have to bring her to enough roping practices to keep her engaged lest the mare’s naughty habits reappear!

Horse Harmony Resources

Online Course

New Horse Harmony Online Course

Do you want to learn why some horses are naturally spookier than others? Or why some horses tend to be naughty while others are nice? It all boils down to the horse’s basic temperament type.

Now you can learn about these types when it is convenient for you with our new Horse Harmony Online Course, developed in partnership with Tallgrass Publishers, LLC. Get the scoop here:

Horse Harmony Course at Tallgrass

If you liked this post, please leave a comment or get more great holistic horse info at Holistic Horsekeeping, Horse Harmony Test, Horse Harmony, and on Twitter.


Leave a Reply