Why is he so aggressive? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-12-2012, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Why is he so aggressive?

Luca and I are best buds. Now all of a sudden, he's been acting very aggressive towards ANYONE! He is normally the sweetest horse ever, amd totally cuddly, but a few days ago, I noticed him change. I came over to him for a pat and a cuddle amd he put his ears right back amd napped at me! So I left him alone, thinking that maybe he was in a bad mood or something. Always when he behaved like that, so etching was not right. He either had to do his "business" or there was some itchy spot on his leg...so I came back a while later and went onto the paddock. Luca immediately came towards me- amd leapt at me with his teeth bared! I was quick enough to escape but was totally crushed emotionally. Why had my sweet gelding who would hurt a fly turned into a mean, grouchy and DANGEROUS horse? I dont want to lose him! :(

Now, guys, think whatever you want from me, but I tell you, it actually happened. No, this is not a troll. I have always had a special relationship with horses. So I took Luca to the grooming place (a pole with a ring on it) and he was totally normal. Just when I let him go on the paddock with no halter he was a monster. so I groomed him and he liked it (like he normally does) amd then I thought to myself: "people tell me I can understand horses well. I'm not so sure about that but why not give horse whispering a go?" I rather thought of it as a silly experiment but I did it anyway. I stood in front of Luca and asked him to "connect with me" like I had read about in horse whispering books when I was about 10 years old. To my surprise, he immediately dropped his head u to my arms and stood there with closed eyes! I was kinda weirded out and excited too, so I continued: "tell me, Luca. What is wrong with you?" nothing happened. "Please Luca, tell me. Does something hurt?" sometimes Luca picks up his back hooves and stomps them when he's bored but this time, he lifted his front hoof and TOUCHED his belly. "If it's your stomach, nudge me. If its something else, stomp your hoof." I felt like I had asked too much so I didn't expect anything to happen. And nothing did happen, and I stood there stupidly...and then I felt the gentlest nudge from my horse. "Hurts like a colic, nibble my arm, hurts like something else, nudge me again." I asked the nudging bit last, just to see whether Luca was just nudging me for the sake of it and not actually communicating with me. But he then gave my arm a strong nibble, which hurt a bit, but I asked for it. I put him back on the paddock and now he's trying really hard not to be so aggressive, but he sometimes has his moments and I'm still not confident enough to cuddle him properly or to go in with him without a halter. So...I think there's something wrong with him. I strongly believe that it's worms. Here are the symptoms I spotted on Luca:

-he's lost some weight and it's hard to put it back on
- he seems to be constantly hungry, looking inside his bucket frequently although I give him his normal ration of food twice a day
- he is acting aggressive (but mostly now he's fine)
- although he has lost weight, he is a bit bloated
- his worming session is due in a few days anyway

Soo....is it worms? Oh and also, that woman who has horses (she's our neighbour) washed her horses with anti-tick stuff and she gave me a bucket with some in it mixed with lots of water and she said she uses it on her horses all the time so I washed Luca with it. The woman gave the empty container (of the anti tick stuff ) to my dad, who put it in the shed. Today, I went to read the label and directions of use, and I noticed that this stuff WASN'T ACTUALLY FLR HORSES AT ALL! It was for household use. In the WARNING section, it said: NOT TO BE USED ON PETS (well I don't know if a horse is ck soldered a pet...) and it also stated: CONTACT WITH SKIN RESULTS IN SKINN IRRITATION AND SKIN NUMBNESS. EXCESSIVE INHALATION WILL CAUSE ORGAN FAILURE!!!! I have learnt not to trust that woman. I washed my horse with that stuff! Well, her horses are acting fine...but still. What am I supposed to do now? I need to know if Luca is in danger. I'm not allowed to call a vet because my parents say that we can't spend too much money before chirstmas!!!! But Luca is IMPORTANT! What if he needs a vet??? So please tell me...do you think it's worms or do you think the anti tick stuff is doing it to him...if you really want, I can upload a pic of the anti tick stuff container and labels.
Thank you
Dreamcatcher5 (worried mum of Luca)

Proud owner of a Standardbred!
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-12-2012, 10:31 PM
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sounds like an ulcer to me. And I suggest keeping him on your regular worming schedule.
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post #3 of 11 Old 12-12-2012, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm...how can I treat an ulcer and what exactly does it look like? And what effects does it have in the horse? And why does it form? Sorry, I'm not so great with ulcers...

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post #4 of 11 Old 12-12-2012, 11:56 PM
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"I came over to him for a pat and a cuddle and he put his ears right back amd napped at me! So I left him alone"

RED FLAG! Your horse is training YOU to leave him alone. If you retreat when he says GET AWAY! you are asking for trouble. This is how horses establish leadership within a herd and he is using it on you!

You move HIS feet away from YOU when he acts like that! Tell HIM to get away from you very hard and swng a rope at his butt or spank him if it takes that to make him realize you MEAN it! You have to get very big and project alot of energy at him and MAKe him move RIGHT NOW! He isnt allowed to be sluggish and if he looks ugly you get after his butt and spank him for a couple seconds. Then, when he is moving away well and every time you ask and has his ear on you and isnt looking hateful anymore, catch his eye, let him stop and try to catch him again. (Id recommend looking at some videos explaining how to do this properly and catch his eye to teach him to turn and face you also. There is more too it than just making him move away, but it is the appropriate response to a snapping lunging horse towards a human. DO NOT ALLOW IT ever. )

If he is ugly or even make an ugly face or pins an ear, you make him move away from you hard and fast till you can catch his eye, walk up to him and he keeps a plesant attitude. Pain or NO pain! Feeling good or not! This is important. This is basic horse language 101 and will keep you and anyone else who needs to handle him safe and him respectful of a human's leadership position over him.

It does sound like ulcers or possibly a bad worm load or both. I would have the vet look him over.

And no, it isnt crazy to "talk" to your horse. I have knows some people who seem to have a knack for it. Just dont let it get in the way of real diagnostics and science. Use it as a tool. You know where to look so start looking there and see what you find.
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Last edited by Trinity3205; 12-12-2012 at 11:59 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-13-2012, 04:51 AM
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This doesn't sound like a case of the horse training the human. A dramatic change in attitude is usually a health/pain issue and not a behavior respect issue. I agree that actions should be corrected immediately. It is okay for them to have an opinion, they just have to learn the best way to express that opinion. Dirty looks are fine, lashing out is not. It is very unfair to expect the horse to be cheerful and relaxed while in attitude altering pain. A kind horse who seems to enjoy contact and attention suddenly turning into a dragon means he must have some very sharp pain somewhere, especially when there were no other behaviors leading up to the change.

What I would do would be to have a vet come give him a good ol' fashioned check up. Tell him your concerns, have him check, see what advice he would give on the issue, and see if he can find anything else that is or could turn into a problem in the future. If your car starts making a funny sound, you usually try to get it to a mechanic before it breaks down to head off a disaster. Or you can wait and see if the funny sound goes away and take your chances. And as I am sure you know, taking your chances can turn a $50 repair into a $1000 repair if left untreated. Similar with horses. He is telling you something is wrong. It is time to schedule a vet out so he can put that something into words and treat it.
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-13-2012, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher5 View Post
Hmm...how can I treat an ulcer and what exactly does it look like? And what effects does it have in the horse? And why does it form? Sorry, I'm not so great with ulcers...
You will need to contact your vet and have them out to check (scope) for ulcers - and, if that IS the cause, treat as prescribed by the vet. Ulcers are an internal affliction so there is nothing for you to see on the outside of the horse.
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post #7 of 11 Old 12-13-2012, 03:46 PM
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LadyD. This is the exact kind of horses who end up hurting people. I'm speaking from a position of experience here. The FIRST time can be all it takes for the horse to figure out they can make a human move away from them by acting ugly and lashing out for no reason. (this person simple walked up to the horse to pet it. She wasnt doctoring it or anything but trying to pet it and walk into its pen!)

Pain is NEVER an excuse to snap or lunge at a person for simple walking up to it and yes, it IS this exact type of behavior that escalates into bad habits. Never! never! never! is it OK for a horse to give me the proverbial finger. Never. I dont care what is wrong. That is completely different than having an "opinion" or trying to simply communicate to human that something hurts or so forth. It is outright disrespect. When you are forced to move a horses feet because he is acting out, you MUST get the right answer and that is a pleasant attentive and/or soft look. To accept any less is training the wrong thing. Once you enter a training situation, you can accept no less than what you are seeking even if its only a second of ears up and pleasant.

Im not saying dont go forward with your gut and figure out WHY horse is grumpy because there may well be a problem there.....but DO NOT allow outright blatant disrespect like that because Miffy doesnt "feel good" and then REWARD the horse by taking the "pressure" away by walking away after he has TOLD YOU to get! Wrong. Dangerous. You will soon find that Miffy suddenly doesnt feel good most of the time because Miffy is smart and if you persist in bothering MIffy, she will escalate her language in telling you to scram! with hooves and teeth and charging!

This is 101 horse training. I have red flags popping up all over when I read things like this. People have been seriously injured including broken collarbones, scalpings and ripped off ears and more because of horses deciding they just dont want to be messed with and knowing that the human will retreat when they lash out. It is serious.
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Last edited by Trinity3205; 12-13-2012 at 03:52 PM.
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-13-2012, 08:07 PM
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I agree with trinity pain or no pain they should never come after you with ears pinned and teeth bared. I had a horse like that except he didnt get me too leave i made him get back and out of my way. I ended up getting rid of that horse he could never be trusted and once i had my daughter, couldnt take a chance on him hurting her. I found out years later the stallion he was by was mean.
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-14-2012, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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He did it again, I to,d him no, have him a smack on the bum :p
I stood my ground and looked him in the eyes. He stared back and then got bored of it, so he gently sniffed my arm. He's getting wormed tomorrow. Right now, he's behaving great. I massaged his head and he almost fell asleep. All of this, on the paddock, no halter or lead rope. :)

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post #10 of 11 Old 12-14-2012, 08:27 AM
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I do not take biting or nipping or pinning ears lightly. One day my mare who has never ever offered to bite (after 10 months of owning her) tried to bite my hand. (I think someone was giving her treats when I wasn't around) As soon as she did it she knew she was in trouble. I turned around and she went flying backwards but not faster than me. I gave her a good punch on the side of the face. Then we continued as normal back to her paddock and she hasn't tried it since. And no she is not head shy from hitting her face once.

Yes some horses might not do well with hitting the face area but this wasn't just trying to nibble she tried to bite, teeth barred, so I reacted with enough force to put an end to that immediately. If I would have smacked her on the butt there is no way it would have even caught her attention. I just don't put up with disrespect, I value my fingers and my life too much.
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