This is my eight year old QH/morgan gelding. He has been leased by the girl riding him for two years now. He is a fabulous riding horse; she has been riding him english mostly and started jumping him last year (which he is really good at).
My problem is not with him as a riding horse, but when the halter is off and he is in "his" pen. He is very scary looking agressive over his fence, at feeding time, and with the vet. He has never bit anyone, but he always looks like he is trying to. He is easy to halter, lead, and do everything with. He shows very little agression in his pen toward the girl leasing him. I definitely feel he does well attaching himself to one person (although he lets anyone ride him).
He seems most aggresive with strangers (especially people who do not know horses well) and the vet. I am writing this becasue when our vet came for spring shots he basically chewed me out about what a dangerous animal he is (he raised his head and pinned his ears when the vet tried to vaccinate him - I had to use a lip chain to calm my horse because the vet wanted to sedate him - incidentally my horse did not get a general health check over as a result of him scaring the vet). I go through this every year with one vet or another. I finally found a vet who took the time to get to know him, which helped, but then we moved to another town.
I got this horse when he was three, and he has always been agressive in these areas. I have never condoned it, and it has not gotten any worse or better.
I am wondering if there is anyone who has run into a horse like this before, and if anything has helped. I am okay with dealing with my agressive horse; I know him, and I know how to handle him. What I worry about are the people who come to our property. I really do not want this horse to injure anyone. I have recently moved him to one of our pens set a little farther from the house area to discourage people approaching him, and I have put signs on his fence. I am wondering if there are any other safety precations that might help.
Hi there, sounds to me like your boy is practicing herd dynamics with his humans He possibly see's his rider and yourself as the leaders or Alpha mares and he is the leutenant and anyone else is lowly and not to be tolerated Not much fun for anyone else but perhaps he hasn't learnt that he doesn't have to be like that and I would guess that your vet behaving nervously will just reinforce that he doesn't have to tolerate anyone else. This behaviour doesn't mean he has been abused or mistreated, I think he may not know how to behave otherwise, enlist some calm/horsey freinds to come and befreind him and slowly begin to handle him all over, I think the important thing is to not reward him by backing off when he commands it, but backing off when he stands quietly and happily, I mean have a freind stand at his stall gate and stand their ground by chatting and not reacting to his grumpiness and as soon as he gives up the grouchiness give him a pat tell him he's great and then reward the good behaviour with going away. And if he remains grumpy just stay there (lots of patience) until he does give it up. As he gets better you move to the next step. Hope you understand what I mean. Sounds like you have put up every precaution you can with him and as far as the vet goes, well in my opinion if they are not patient and understanding with animals then they aren't worth the money you pay them!!!! Find a new one
Thanks for all of the advice :) The herd dynamics aspect really makes sense. I have really thought about that before because when he is in with our other horses, he is the low man. I always say that he is trying to get a higher ranking place with people because he can't with the horses. He knows that his rider and I won't tolerate his shenanigans (sp?), but he knows that pretty much everyone else will back away when he lunges his head around with pinned ears.
I suppose the challenge will be to find people (even horsey people) willing to be in the line of fire :) Do you think these people should stand up to him and shoo him from the fence when he shows attitude or simply ignore him until he softens??
I agree that he was probably not mistreated. He was born and raised to age 3 with a fairly inexperienced lady who seemed to spoil him a bit, and seemed scared of him. That should have clued me in then, but here we are now :)
Thanks for the thoughts about the vet too. I felt like a horrible horse owner when this vet chewed me out about keeping a dangerous animal (even though all of my other horses were angels). I am not sure exactly what he wanted me to do?? Selling him would just transfer the problem (possibly to someone less experienced).
Hi there, glad I could be helpful. In my opinion your person is going to have to stand there ground because it seems to me now that backing off when he's grumpy gives him a win, I had originally thought just to ignore it but reading over the posts again it really stands out that he is really really grumpy! You don't need to hit him, but if he comes at you wanting to bite it wouldn't hurt to meet that with a stone fist, not a hitting one but a stone cold fist that he bangs into, otherwise when he comes hissing he is met with a teeth bearing arms raised up roaring human/lion, funny I know but the second he takes a double take or steps back the lion/human becomes just a calm person again. I think he will try this out a few times before his horse brain works out that his aggression is going to be matched......and that his kind and compliant behaviour will be matched with kindness and caring also.
Also when things are going great let him know or feel that he is number 1 and the greatest horse that walked the earth I wonder if getting people in passing to say hi to him would help in his journey to broadening his people acceptance skills...just an idea. Hope this helps
Thanks so much for the ideas. I will definitely be seeking brave horse people to help in my quest. I worry a bit though that if he scares even one person off, he will continue to lapse back into aggressive mode...I will definitely keep working on it.
I am not sure if having people casually go by to say hi will help him unless they are ready to challenge and face any aggression he shows. Otherwise I envision people walking by as he pins his ears and him thinking that he "showed them" as they move on :)
I definitely like the lion human thing :) That is a great analogy!
Well......lets see here this reminds me alot and I mean alot of Junior. Junior....wow this is going to be long. Junior was and still is at times an aggresive horse. He would charge at people and hold his ears back but people would run away from the charge zone and keep out of his way. Including me when he did it. It only got worse. So we couldn't keep doing that because he would run all over us. So we worked and worked with him. We kept him solitary from all the other horses. And well we always kept a close eye on him so to speak. I always visited him though but once he got an attitude I left and just went back to the other horses leaving him alone.
Eventually we brought him back with the other horses but kept his halter on just incase he tried anything he was an easy grab. I worked and worked to gain his trust and well I did eventually. The only thing though was he was still aggressive. I will never forget that day he charged at me for the first time and now he's a sweet little angel how did it happen? Well alot of bonding and showing him that I was in control. If he even put his ears back to me the slightest bit I would pop him. He has bitten me,charged at me, attempted to kick( but didn't), and just ran all over me. I worked and worked and popped that butt and he's an angel for me now.
Well as for the other people thing not so good. Well the people who come to the barn alot showed him that he couldn't run over them either and now he's an angel for most everyone. Although I do get those complaints when I come back from trips and stuff that he acted up or something. Well he's kinda got this one person thing in him too, I would just say let everyone show him that they are boss. Bring a whip with you and when he puts those ears back you pop him. He turns his butt you pop him and so fourth. He'll eventually get the point. Once he puts his ears up though you quit and leave him alone or just pet him and walk away but if they go back pop him and don't leave. Tell him this means war.
Also with other people I still can't trust other people around Junior it scares me inside to think he could charge at any moment if he just didn't like that person the littliest bit. Well its strange with Junior I don't know if your horse is the same way but if I don't like someone and they come to the barn and come near Junior its almost as if Junior can feel it and he will flatten his ears to that person. Yes I know weird but sometimes I think your horse knows something about whether you like someone or not. Well for the people thing I don't know exactly if I can help much because I think that any horse with a behavior problem will run right over everyone if they have the chance. I would just keep a close eye on him when others are around if he knows your boss he probably wont try anything as long as your looking.
Well I hope I helped some with my old problem relating to yours and all. If you have any more questions just ask.