A horse that paws can be destructive. They can destroy stalls, barn aisles, and arenas as they dig through the ground with their hooves. This behavior can quickly form into a habit if not corrected from the beginning. Get to the bottom of this problem by finding out why your horse is doing it and how you can fix it!
Three Reasons for Why Your Horse Paws
1. Emotional: Horses experiencing boredom or frustration are emotionally pawing. It can be as simple as being tied up and not wanting to stand any longer. During training sessions, a confused horse may also paw.
2. Learned: This is a demanding paw. Your horse has learned that when he does this behavior he gets what he wants. It could be he paws during feed time and you reward him by giving him grain.
3. Investigative: Something new and interesting has captured your horse’s attention. It could be a new surface or walking into a trailer for the first time. He is trying to figure it out.
How to Stop Your Horse From Pawing
It depends on the type of pawing your horse does. First, you must figure out why he is engaging in this behavior. If his pawing is emotional, try to reward him for standing patiently.
For those that have learned to paw to get what they want, you must retrain them. Make your horse stand patiently before giving him grain. Never mistakenly reward the behavior by giving in.
Lastly, those that are investigating should be allowed to experience the new place or object within reason. Let your horse paw to figure out what he is looking at, but don’t let him get out of control.
Check out this video for a more in-depth training discussion on why horses paw and how to stop it: