Take, on the other hand, my brave and independent heart horse: Jackson.
He's been retired for a number of years now. And we all know what happens when you retire a horse. They gradually become rude and pushy. Jackson is no exception. And because my heart aches when I think about the pain he lives with everyday, I haven't been as, um, firm as I should be.
One of the things I learned at the clinic -- well, I knew it, but it never stuck before -- was making sure that my horses fully understand that I am the one in charge. I am the alpha mare and you don't move me around; I move you. The next morning after we got home from the clinic, when I brought Jackson his morning vitamins, I noticed that he was crowding into my space and trying to herd me to his feed bin. I told him to back up. He bumped me with his head; kind of a side-ways friendly punch to my arm. Except that it wasn't acceptable. I asked him to back up; to cede me ground; to acknowledge my rank -- and he pushed back. I stung him across his lower front legs and said "I told you to move."
He hobbled backwards and then circled around me, snaking his head in a belligerent way. I ordered him to whoa in my best I-mean-it mom voice. He stopped; looking a bit shocked.
I continued walking to his feed bin. He started out walking next to me, and gradually was drifting sideways towards me. I stepped into him, and he moved away. He tried again. I held my ground and gave him the stink-eye. His head went up and he stopped.
When he dropped his head, I walked over to him with the bucket.
"Wait," I said. He paused. I held the bucket to him and said "Have some."
"Thank you." he meekly said. "I'll be respectful. I promise."
And he has (pretty much) kept that promise.