Is this mare barn sour? Food dominant? Why so aggressive? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-29-2011, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Is this mare barn sour? Food dominant? Why so aggressive?

(I wasn't sure which forum section to put this in, so my apologies if it belongs elsewhere.)

I recently began working at a farm feeding and bringing in the horses twice a week in exchange for a weekly lesson. There are 14 horses and 2 ponies. Two of the horses are pregnant mares in their own pasture... this brings me to my question...

One of the mares is clearly dominant and comes to the gate first. She is a bit feisty when I bring her in to their barn, but no more than the geldings are when they are hungry. The second mare is the problem. She stays back until I've taken the first mare, then she rushes to the gate. She lets me clip a lead on her, but she starts dancing around right away. Once she is through the gate, she is pulling and tossing her head and trying to run me over. It's very frightening. She doesn't even seem like she wants to run back to the barn; just away from me. Several times on our way across the pasture, I have to stop and make her run in circles around me a bit in hopes of keeping a little control. It's a fight all the way to the barn.

At this point I should tell you that the barn manager/trainer was a little surprised when I told her how the mare was acting and she has said that she will be out there tomorrow when I feed again to see what she can do to help and make sure I'm not in a dangerous situation. I should also tell you that my only contact with this mare is at feeding time. I'm just wondering if anyone might have some insight for me...

Could any of you give me any advice on how to better handle this mare? Is she behaving this way because she is preggo (she's due in May)? Or is she just trying to assert her dominance over me? She is a freight train and I have no hope of using any muscle to pull her back. What can I do?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-29-2011, 02:11 PM
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At my stables we had a mare like that, we thought it was because she was pregnant but then after the foal she was still acting up, but after a few weeks she settled down
Hope this helps
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-29-2011, 02:12 PM
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Could you bring in the problem mare first? Drive the feisty one away from the gate then get the problem mare.
Maybe bring a handful of hay out to the gate and put one bit in one area, for #1 mare, then take #2 give her a handful, then take her to the barn. I dont' know. It' s possible that that is not the best way. kind of cheating, but sometimes if you dont' have the time or place to train in better behavior I have had to use cheats at times.
I am sure some of the other posters with more experience with difficult horses will have better advice.
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-29-2011, 02:54 PM
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Sounds like she is 1. Buddy sour (not barn sour) for the lead mare 2. Has no manners and 3. Very used to being rewarded for this bad behavior by a bucket of grain waiting in her stall.

All of the "fixes" for these problems require constant daily work on manners, changing her routine and changing when/where she gets grain until she learns to respect handlers a little better.

She may also just be doing this to you because she has realized you are timid around her. Hopefully her owner can show you what to do and work with you on correcting the issues.
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-30-2011, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your comments.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-30-2011, 08:55 PM
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I agree, sounds like a hormonal buddy sour mare. Ask if you can use a stud chain on her or some other control device. I would also try and take her out first if the lead mare will let you.
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-31-2011, 10:31 AM Thread Starter
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Well, last night the barn manager came out to the pasture with me when I brought them in. She took the dominant mare and stood aside with her and I took the one I'm having trouble with. I told her that I doubt she'll act up since she can see the other mare standing right there, and I was correct. She was a perfect angel heading into the barn.

So now I know that if they are brought in together everything is fine. The trouble is, when I bring in the horses, it's usually just me out there - there's no one else to help me. So.... I'm back to square one.

We'll see how she does tonight, I guess... But I think you're all correct - she is buddy sour. Any additional thoughts as to how to make the situation safer for me would be much appreciated. Thank you all for your comments!

Oh, and regarding the use of a stud chain... I've never used one, so I think I'll see how things go and if she's still acting up as violently, I'll ask the barn manager about using one and if she will show me how to use it correctly. (Do people have strong opinions about stud chains? I thought someone had told me before that they could break a horse's nose... which I think sounds a little outlandish, but I don't have any experience with one.)

Last edited by Rockey; 03-31-2011 at 10:35 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-31-2011, 05:02 PM
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Can you tie the dominant mare up just outside the pasture or barn? Then lead the trouble mare in.
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