The Francis Rules

I had another lesson this week, but I won’t bore you with the same courses I did earlier in the week. The only change was that my trainer made me do the second course without stirrups and we learned that apparently Francis takes that to mean it’s time for zoomies. Nothing wild, just a bit more pace than he usually carries. Good to know. My legs hurt. Ow.

Anyways, I was thinking of what my “rules” for Frankie are. Like if I had to go out of town and have someone watch him for me, what are some basics of how to take care of him. There aren’t many, but here they are:

1.No hand feeding treats.

Even when he looks this adorable.

I know, I am the worst horse mom in the world. And I literally have a 5lb bag of treats sitting in my tack trunk. But homeboy gets really excited about treats. REALLY EXCITED. Like every time he senses the presence of a treat within a 2 mile radius it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to him.

He does not nip or get mouthy or anything, but Big Guy doesn’t realize just how big he is and tries to crawl in your pocket to be like “here look how cute and snuggly I am you should feed me” and meanwhile you’re like Jesus Christ horse get off me you’re the size of an battleship. So he gets tonnnns of scratches and pats for being good and tons of verbal praise (his life is one long string of “Good boy!! Good man!”) but treats do not factor into the equation. Sometimes the treat fairy will visit and leave a few morsels in his bucket for him to find, and that’s it.

2. No face smacking.

How could you even think about smacking this sweet mug?!

I don’t personally spend time anyone who actually does this, but I have seen people discipline their ponies by bopping them on the face. Um, if you hit my horse in the face you’d better brace for a jab in the eye because no. You do not do that. I’m a big proponent of a well-timed smack to discipline problem behaviors, but you do not hit the face or ears.

Things you may do with his face: scratch the itchies, rub the donkey ears, smoosh the snoot, snuggle the fluffers, present hands for licking, and give lots of kisses. Things you may not do with his face: hit it.

3. Make him pick up his feet.

All four legs are functional. All four legs will come off the ground.

He will do it. You do not have to convince him for 5 minutes that it’s a good idea. He will pretend it’s really hard for him. He’s lying. Ask firmly and he will immediately present his hooves to you, ask halfheartedly and he thinks you don’t mean it and will keep all four feet planted on the ground.

4. As mentioned in Rule 1, Homeboy often forgets that he is gigantic. Remind him.

He literally towers over my 5’9″ frame. He be huge.

Demand that he stop/turn/move promptly when leading and then throw a party when he does. He will not try to run you over and is quite well-behaved to handle, but needs reminders that he is not a lap dog and snuggles must be initiated by Mom.

And that about does it. I’m pretty sure anyone could safely ride him so I don’t have any rules there. What it all boils down to I think applies to many horses, not just Francis: be firm but fair.

Do you have any “rules” for handling your horse(s)?

15 thoughts on “The Francis Rules

  1. Allison Stitzinger 08/05/2016 / 10:57 am

    Haha, my Rule #2 differs a bit from yours: If he bites you, PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE. That’s pretty much the only time I hit a horse in the face though… teeth = aggression = NEVER OK.

    But otherwise, I’d say I’m in agreement!


    • hellomylivia 08/05/2016 / 10:59 am

      Haha I’m more of a nose-biter when a pony gets nippy. I usually end up with a mouthful of dusty horse hair, but I also end up with a horse that’s so confused that they don’t usually try that crap again haha


      • Allison Stitzinger 08/05/2016 / 11:02 am

        LOL! I generally don’t want my face that close to horse teeth, so they tend to have a meeting with Mr. Fist.

        Liked by 1 person

      • heartofhope10 08/05/2016 / 1:53 pm

        Is this a thing? I’ve never heard of biting a horse back?


      • hellomylivia 08/05/2016 / 1:54 pm

        It’s how I stopped my old gelding from being nippy- every time he would nip, I’d chomp on his nose. Probably not orthodox, but it worked quickly!


  2. Sarah 08/08/2016 / 8:37 am

    I’m not saying I’ve never smacked mine in the face. I’ve raised two of mine from babies, and am a firm believer that the punishment fits the crime. I’ve noticed that using that mentality early in their lives has made them much more respectful as adults and I rarely have to punish them (if I raise my voice to Copper, he ceases being obnoxious most of the time). Generally now it is a swat to the chest/neck though if warranted since their indiscretions aren’t very serious. I shove their faces with treats fairly often though…haha. Nibbling isn’t an issue with them either (I think it applies back to my punishment from earlier in life thing…) and they know better than to get in my space…for the same reason haha. The donkeys though are a different story. They don’t learn from being smacked at all…so their treat intake is limited because they’re nibbly. 😦


    • hellomylivia 08/08/2016 / 10:29 am

      I’m definitely on board with the smacking- I just tend to do that in the chest/belly area more than anywhere else.
      I think it’s so cool that you’ve been able to develop your horses from the time they were young and install good manners! So SO important with babies, I think most behavior problems later on stem from lack of discipline early in their lives.


  3. shelbyrallen 08/08/2016 / 2:21 pm

    I’m a lazy horse mom. I keep treats in my pocket at all times – good thing mine is little because he knows where they are!! I do counter that with plenty of ground work – so we have average manners on the ground rather than atrocious manners 🙂


  4. Micaylah 08/09/2016 / 12:06 pm

    My baby horses still don’t know what a treat is but sometimes during snuggle session they want to bite me in playness. After a quick bop on the nose they can now see the crazy in my eyes if they misbehave lol I’ve only had to bop a nose once, they are generally pretty respectful


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2016 / 2:45 pm

      My trainer has a baby 2 year old and she’s told us all that we’re not allowed to tell him that treats exist haha. Setting good boundaries is so important with those babies, sounds like yours are definitely getting it 🙂


  5. Heather 08/09/2016 / 5:04 pm

    Val can get a little full of himself and almost…studdish? So occasionally he gets the teeth out and gets a bop on the nose, but I would never touch his actual “face” if you will unless it was for loves. Sometimes he whacks me in the head and gets a nose bop for that too. But yeah. I’m not at all a fan of hitting them anywhere on their forehead, crown, poll, between the eyes, whatever. Not cool at all. I don’t have a cookie rule at all, because my horse is too cute and it might be the only reason he loves me soooo. These all seem like pretty fair rules though!


    • hellomylivia 08/10/2016 / 2:44 pm

      I can get on board with a solid nose bop- agreed with staying away from those higher areas. I’ve seen too many horses become head shy from that type of discipline, which is why I tend to stay away from the face.
      It killlllls me not to give him treats! Like I’m probably sadder about it than he is haha.


  6. Liz 08/10/2016 / 8:25 am

    “you’re the size of an battleship” LOL!!!


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