Turning Mean

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Turning Mean

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  • Ponies turning nasty when fed
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    02-20-2011, 10:26 AM
Thumbs down Turning Mean

Can a horse just "turn mean"?

I've come so far with Lakota over the past months and we were really starting to get things figured out but now I feel like we've taken so many steps backwards that we're worse than when I got him.

Yesterday, I was just holding him waiting to lunge him and he bit me. He broke the skin through my sweatshirt and it stung. I slapped him on the neck and backed him up a few steps. Then I was on him and he started bucking again, something he hasn't done in at least 2-3 months.

Today, I took him out just so he could run around in the indoor for awhile before the storm came and I brought his Jolly ball with us so he could play with that. Lakota was acting like he was confronting me/challenging me. I would try to get around him and he would block my movements. Then he would get really close to me and try to bite me, so I grabbed his halter and tried to lead him away and take him back outside but he kept trying to bite me and then he spun around me. I tightened my grip on his halter and he tried to rear up but I was standing right against his front shoulder/chest so he didn't but I felt him get light in front. I don't know what to do with him and I can't figure out why he's acting like this. Any help would be appreciated greatly.
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    02-20-2011, 10:38 AM
Ut, oh. That's a situation none of us want to be in. :(
This has happened to my friend. It hasn't gotten quite as bad as what you have described yet, but dangerous nonetheless. Her thing has become rearing.

It's hard to give advice without seeing you two together. Is there any way you can call a trainer (with good references) out to be by your side and give tips on things you might not be seeing? It's usually easier from someone on the outside to catch certain things that can be gone about a bit differently.

What kind of set-up do you have? Is there an arena or pasture-like run in when your horse can run but not get too far away?

It sounds like a bigger effort to establish your dominance needs to occur. Everyone does it differently, but I chase horses in their pasture with a lunge whip (I don't hit them with it, it's just an extension of my arm). In the wild, a herd leader will chase away a horse for nonsense. Be that horse. Let it be known who's boss. When you see your horse stop, lower his head, and mouthe, you can approach. If there is any sign of aggression or if he pulls away from you when you go to pet him, start the chase right back up.

My mare has been pushy in the past during feeding time. I did the same thing, but protected her feed with the lunge whip (again, not hitting) until she gave up. I decided when she could approach the feeder.

Dominance in the pasture is number one. Then, you can more safely establish dominance when she's on a lead.
    02-20-2011, 10:44 AM

Originally Posted by BackInTheSaddleAgain    
It's hard to give advice without seeing you two together. Is there any way you can call a trainer (with good references) out to be by your side and give tips on things you might not be seeing? It's usually easier from someone on the outside to catch certain things that can be gone about a bit differently.

What kind of set-up do you have? Is there an arena or pasture-like run in when your horse can run but not get too far away?
I actually board at my trainer's place, so I could get him to watch me pretty much anytime. I was thinking of maybe paying him to work with him for awhile.

We have an indoor arena and an outdoor arena, but the outdoor arena has kinda flimsy boards, so he might run through them and its pretty big.

I was thinking the same thing with the whip(which is what I plan on doing next time), but everytime I tried to get to the other end of the arena where the whips were, he would block my movements. Today was the only day that I've actually been scared of him.

I was wondering if this would make a difference...in his old pasture he used to be the more dominant one(he's extremely dominant)but in his new pasture with different horses, he's not the top boss anymore. Could this be causing him to want to be dominant over me?
    02-20-2011, 10:57 AM
Absolutely!! It sounds like you know your stuff. My mare turns into a big jerk when she's in pasture with other horses. She's ALWAYS low-'man' with them and because of that, she becomes way more testy with me. Horses instinctively fight for the 2nd spot on the totem poll if they're the last.

I've separated my mare from all horses. The difference is like night and day. I'm her only one now and she's a big teddy bear and that need to protect herself isn't there so she can relax.. Any other horses, she gets spooky in the hind end, paranoid, and un-affectionate.

That can be worked on, but it can be more of a challenge if you're having to deal with other horses.
Originally Posted by TheRoughrider21    
Could this be causing him to want to be dominant over me?
    02-20-2011, 12:42 PM

Originally Posted by BackInTheSaddleAgain    
Absolutely!! It sounds like you know your stuff.
Thanks! I needed to hear that after the past 2 days.

So, you think if I moved him back with the other 2 horses he was more dominate over, he'd start acting better? I might be able to talk to my trainer and have him moved back where he was.
    02-21-2011, 09:47 PM

Bump? Anyone else have any advice?
    02-21-2011, 10:29 PM
Moving him to the other pasture again won't really solve the issue. Regardless of what his dominance position is in the herd, he needs to know that you are more dominant than he is.

Don't ever go anywhere without a whip, crop, stick, chain, lead rope -- anything at all to make your space bigger. I would seriously spend several days not doing anything at all with him except free groundwork. So in the paddock herding him. Chasing him if necessary. Make him move. Every time you do anything with him, make it clear that you are allowing him to approach, to feed, etc. Do not let him approach you at all until you say it's OK.

He should not ever be blocking your movements. So, when you get a hold of a whip, keep it in your vehicle so you don't have to go anywhere specific to get it. In the interim, find whatever tool you can to make yourself bigger. Louder can help too. Not screaming and screeching, just when you say "move" say "MOVE". Be confident and pissed off. He will know it if you are.

If you move him to the other pasture again, it may be easier to establish your dominance in the first place, but after a while, I would put him back to the other and reinforce your control.
    02-22-2011, 12:22 AM
You are getting very good advice from every one.

The only thing I might ad is to make sure there is no physical or health reason for him to be this way?

    02-22-2011, 10:19 AM
Agreed :)
Originally Posted by NorthernMama    
    02-22-2011, 10:35 AM
I would not use a whip to move him. I would halter him so that you know where he is at all times. If he is blocking you from walking, a whip is not going to stop him because you would have to get within a few feet to use it. Plenty of time for him to swing his hind quarters and kick at you.

What is he like for others to handle?

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