new baby, overprotective mother. need suggestions please

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new baby, overprotective mother. need suggestions please

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  • Overprotective of baby mom
  • Mare overprotective towards foal

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    07-29-2008, 09:24 PM
new baby, overprotective mother. need suggestions please

I sure hope someone out there can help me. We bought a horse 4 months ago, and did not realize at the time that she was pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful black and white tobiano filly. However, she won't let us get near her or the baby. If anyone tries to approach her, she pins back her ears and lunges at them. We really need suggestions on what we should do. This is all new to us and we don't want to inadvertantly hurt mom or baby by doing something wrong. Neither do we want to get hurt. Any suggestions.
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    07-30-2008, 06:34 AM
Sounds to me like she doesn't trust you yet. You are "new" to her after all. My mare tried to rip the face off her bestest buddy of years when that gal stretched her head around the corner to sneak a peak at little baby Dash.

Many mares are over protective for the first week or so. Others are the looit-what-I-did-show offs. Are there other horses there? I bet she acts the same way with them.If you have other horses in the field, Momma should be much much better after the first group turnout.

Is she stalled or open pasture? When did she foal? Has the vet checked out Momma and foal?

Be very careful,(duh, huh?) but I would suggest paying attention to the Momma only. If the filly is bopping around, turn your back to it. . Not in a "I'm going to kick you" manner, but in a "I'm not interested in you, squirt" way. Let the filly explore - sniff, rubb on etc - you first through the gate or fence.

Phone calls to the vet for info are free. Don't be shy to call. The vet may suggest a light sedauion for the mare so she can be handled. They also might not, because whatever you give Momma goes through the milk into the foal.
    07-30-2008, 09:15 AM
When my friend's horse had her foal earlier this year, she
Stayed in the back of the pasture with it and everytime we
Would approach, her and the filly would trot off. The mare will
Seem anti social when the baby is first born, but will gradually
Get better.

You also said you purchased the mare 4 months ago, you
Haven't had her to long, maybe the reason she is in "attack
Mode," is because she hasn't gained your trust yet.
    07-30-2008, 10:06 AM
Super Moderator
Catch the mom and tie her and then feed her while you get to the baby. Watch moms back feet. You need to get your hands on that baby!
    07-30-2008, 11:24 AM
It sounds to be like she doesn't trust you yet. Some horses don't trust people until they have known them for a long time. It took Sonny about 3 months to start to trust me and I didn't rush him into anything.

I agree with Dash, just give the mother attention and ignore the baby...that way the mother can realize that you aren't going to harm her baby. Maybe bring some carrots in and give to the mother. Don't start trying to pet the baby until the mother starts opening up to you more.
But don't force yourself on her, that will only make her frightened of you and defiantely won't open up to you quickly.

Yes you want to get your hands on the baby as soon as possible, but tieing the mom up isn't going to help. Soon you'd have to do that every time because she won't trust you. Work with her for maybe an hour a day and then work up to twice a day and so on. Build up her trust and let her realize that you aren't going to hurt her.

Also it could be somewaht of a dominance issue. Was she always acting mean towards you?
    07-30-2008, 01:06 PM
Super Moderator
I don't think it's that she doesnt trust you. It's that she's a good mommy and she's doing her job protecting her baby. My mare was like that to us and I know for a fact she trusts us! LOL... she was actually scary to go into the stall with because she was so nasty, ear pinny and longey... She was protecting my Riley! So we kept a halter on her and would tie her in the stall with the baby and then we would catch him and work with him a safe distance from her but in the stall where she could see us. She got better but it took a couple weeks.
    07-30-2008, 01:14 PM
Originally Posted by farmpony84
I don't think it's that she doesnt trust you. It's that she's a good mommy and she's doing her job protecting her baby. My mare was like that to us and I know for a fact she trusts us! LOL... she was actually scary to go into the stall with because she was so nasty, ear pinny and longey... She was protecting my Riley! So we kept a halter on her and would tie her in the stall with the baby and then we would catch him and work with him a safe distance from her but in the stall where she could see us. She got better but it took a couple weeks.
This is exactly right. We've had mares that will welcome anyone into the stall after birth and others that will attack anyone whether they know them or not. Its just a mom mare thing. One reason to get a halter on mom ASAP and tie her so you can do what ever you need to with the baby. Don't worry too much she will get over it in a few days to a few weeks after the baby is born.
    07-30-2008, 03:25 PM
In a perfect world, we would all love to desensitize the foals to humans and handling as they are popping out the shoot.( I was **** lucky... I got to! ) Doesn't always happen that way. Yep I sure agree that getting your hands on the foal sooner is better than later, ( Am a BIG fan of Dr Miller and Imprint training,) however, the foal will react as Momma reacts. If you stress Momma out , or upset her, baby quickly learns that humans are something to stress over. IMHO you will stress Momma but doing exactly what she fears - separating her from her baby so she can't protect it. Sometimes it works. Sometimes you have a major car crash. I always vote for the way easiest on the horse. You win the foal by winning Momma.

And yes, just because Momma doesn't trust you ( or anybody) right now sure doesn't mean she doesn't trust you at all. She IS being a good Momma - defending her foal. I suggest the better she knows you, your habits, your methods, the more quickly she'll come around.
    07-30-2008, 09:39 PM
thanks for the suggestions

Up until baby was born, we had no problems handling mom. She came to us with no problem, stood for grooming, etc. my daughter and I have spent hours with mom prior to her giving birth hoping that she would trust us enough to handle the baby. I will give her a couple of weeks to calm down, but if still not responding to us again within that time period, we may have to try something different. I really do not want to have to seperate them to handle the baby, but may have to by putting mom in the stall. There are no other horses around. She is in a pasture with baby. We got hold of mom today by bribing her with feed, but she broke lose as soon as my husband got hold to the baby. She has never tried to bite us before, but now she does try to bite anyone that reaches toward her as well as the ears being pinned and lunging. Vet has checked both and says both are healthy, gave both a tetanus shot. We had penned up mom and baby for when he got there we wouldn't have to try to catch them. I really do not want mom to become distrustful of us, but also do not want her to think that this behaviour can continue. I appreciate all and any suggestions. Thank you.
    07-31-2008, 06:54 AM
Darn, other horses generally help.... how long has it been? Not all horses "read the How-to-be-a-Horse book" and react the same, but I have found that two weeks is generally the magic number.

However, I take any new Momma and her threats very seriously.

Can you do all her feeding close to the fence line to keep an eye on her? If you are having a hard time getting close to the foal, it's still important to see and be seen. Do lots of pasture chores.

One way is to try to separate Momma and filly ( very strong fence, I hope.) How you manage that..... well, good luck, huh? While Momma gets upset, kneel in the center of the filly's area. The filly should run to Momma at first, then when you don't move, she should come to investigate you. Try not to separate them for more than ten minutes or so. Repeat several times a day if possible. That may be impossible to do, sorry for the lack of help.

You don't know any history on the dam, right? First foal? Maybe last foal weaned too early? Maybe this is just normal behaviour for Momma?

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