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Can horses be intentionally mean?

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    06-28-2011, 06:22 AM
  #11
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocky pony    
I don't believe in such a thing as a horse who is just flat out mean on its own for the hell of it.
You haven't met my friend's horse then. This was a mare that ended up being shot because she was 90% of the time a beautiful, loving, kind mare, and the other 10% she was just off her head violent. Put my friend in hospital MANY times. This horse was suffering, BADLY, and there was nothing that could be done to help her, but all the same, my friend did everything right with that mare, and she would just go off her face for no apparent reason at all. This is JME but sometimes horses ARE insane for no real good reason. My friend used to refer to her horse's flip-outs as 'episodes' - ever heard of a human or a dog having psychotic episodes? My friend and I both think that that's what the mare was having.
     
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    06-28-2011, 06:29 AM
  #12
Started
Mental problems, those I believe in. I do not personally consider the mentally ill to be "mean", however.

Mental problems do seem rarer in horses than in humans, though. Or maybe they are just better at coping with them. It is rare enough, though, that I've certainly never personally encountered it- things unprovoked by humans, that is.
I do personally own a horse who was formerly viciously abused for most of his long, long life. He reaches a point when you're riding where, well, I don't even want to find out exactly what he will do if you don't get off. He gets extremely uncomfortable and flattens his ears and starts crowhopping and bolts this way and that, entirely unprovoked. It's not from physical pain, only mental. He reaches a limit and it must be respected. We tried to help him through it for years and it only got worse, so now he is happily retired from riding. He hasn't been blamed once for being the way he is; he's a sweet old man. I think maybe he gets flashbacks.
     
    06-28-2011, 09:07 AM
  #13
Weanling
I've met two horses that I would classify as "mean" in my life.

One was an OTTB mare that I owned. No matter how much care and understanding I gave her, she just didn't like people. I still know this mare although I sold her, and she is still the same way. She can be nice sometimes, but vicious the next and has never progressed very far in her training because of this. However, I think that this is an attribute of bad handling and mistreatment when she was younger and racing. She came to me very underweight and her demeanor just screamed abuse. I do not blame her for this, rather I blame the people who ruined her.

The second horse was much worse. She was a TB mare that I cared for at a job that I had. Supposedly, she was born and raised on the farm, and had never raced or been mishandled. She was 4 yrs old at the time. IF, and I say "if" because many other horses on the farm also had behavior issues, this was actually true, then this mare was just born mean. She would lunge at you with teeth bared, try and kick you at any moment, and was hardly even able to be led from the paddock to the stall. I had to make sure that I had everything (food, water, etc.) in her stall before bringing her in because she would attack you the moment that her stall door was opened. My hat saved my head from her teeth on one occasion. She was no better in the paddock, and just getting a lead rope on her was like trying to harness a wild animal. In the short time that I worked there, this mare broke a girl's back by kicking her when she tried to catch her after she escaped. Now, because I don't really know her background, I can't really say for sure if she was just a mean horse. I guess the most I can say is that I do believe that it is possible, that like humans, a horse could be born with a severe neurological condition that could result in inborn meanness. It seems only probable to me that both being living organisms, we can share this trait.

I do not however, think that it is as common in horses. Most of the horses that I have known to be labeled "mean" have either been handled incorrectly or are suffering from a physical ailment.
     
    06-28-2011, 09:22 AM
  #14
Showing
Often times fearful horses become aggressive ie I'll get you before you get me regardless of whether it's with people or other horses. OTTBs have been pushed in their training thus developing no real social skills with people or other horses because they are isolated in a stall and only a few people handle them. One young lad bot an OTTB and spent many hours in this horse's stall, just standing by the door, waiting for the horse to investigate him. The trust the colt built with him was amazing and they went on to become successful on the local jumping circuit. Just spending time with a horse is a step we often ignore yet it's time well spent.
     
    06-28-2011, 09:25 AM
  #15
Weanling
I've been lucky and never actually had to deal with a mean or dangerous horse. I've seen horses who became nasty in the stall because they didnt get enough turnout etc.
Personally Im glad I've never came across anything like that, but I do think it is possible for the brains to be bred right out of the horses and to end up with occassional horses who have flawed minds. (crossing related horses too closely)
It happens in other breeds so why not horses?

Im certain in my mind that we had an old mare (22 years old) that became senile and forgetful. That in itself is not the same thing but she became out of character enough that after being a great partner for my son for about 10 years we had to retire her and not allow him to handle her anymore because she would seem to forget and we were afraid she might kick without thinking.
     
    06-28-2011, 09:39 AM
  #16
Showing
I have met a truly mean horse. I won't name names as he was a very prominent stallion in the QH world years ago. He was NASTY MEAN. To the point where he had his own barn and if folks wanted to see him for breeding consideration they did so through a viewing room. A few of his foals had the same god awful temperament. A few incidents I know of him having, he picked his very large male owner up by the tendons on top of his shoulder and threw him over a pipe gate, he removed fingers, as well as part of a breast of one unfortunate woman. I'm sure if any of those folks were asked, yes he had INTENT. To be bred he was handled with a log chain. Do I think he should have been bred, no probably not. In fact if he had been mine, he would have been a prime candidate to euth. Did I however own one of his daughters, yes and she was a wonderful kids horse.

I don't think they are just mean to be mean in the sense that higher intellect beings, ie humans, can be. Humans interaction, nature's influence, genetics, mental illness, just a few of the things that can make one mean.
     
    06-28-2011, 09:51 AM
  #17
Doe
Weanling
As I say what is 'mean'? At least in horse terms.
That stallion sure sounded like red zone dangerous, but ultimately aggression is part of a stallions nature. When it comes down to it, a stallion only lives to secure a herd of mares and procreate. Aggression and dominance is part of that. The more of that he can display the more alpha he would be.
He isn't designed to be sentimental and feel bad about injuring others. He's just reacting to his environment.
     
    06-28-2011, 10:04 AM
  #18
Started
I mostly agree with Doe, particularly on the first two points. I do not think any horse is out to be mean. They react regarding instincts. They do mirror the owners and there are a lot of stupid and angry people in the world. MHFoundation - I would imagine that the stallion mentioned had a motive for being "mean". For one, he was taken out of the environment he was meant to live in (herd). As I always say, "What was the horse doing out in the pasture before the humans walked up?..." Was he cooped up in a barn 24/7? Did he have a hormone imbalance or thyroid issue, pain, previous improper handling etc...? Cause and effect like Doe was saying. Something caused him to act that way, no matter how small it was. And keeping him a breeding stallion was stupid on the owners part. I mean, come on, if someone handled you with a log chain would you be kind enough not to remove a finger here and there? Sounds like a two way street in that story and the 1100 pound animal with a walnut sized brain, no logical reasoning capability and too much testosterone was NOT going to "be the bigger of the two".

That said I have a wonderful gelding here who is very intuitive and quick to react. I am selective with who rides or handles him as he can quickly become "a problem". While many other people might disagree, I've left him be as he has every right to use his instincts regarding people and how they treat him. (I am sure he is only escalated by my lack of tolerance and anti-socialism that he sees, again with horses mirroring the owner) I had a friend who always carried a nasty attitude around horses, she loved to work with them but she needed to learn to control her anger and that always irritated me. If she came near him she was sure to be bit, kicked or ran out of his fence. We had a "know it all" cowboy farrier show up last month and asked if we needed a farrier. I declined but this gelding came over and lounged at him over the gate. To be honest, I didn't like the guy either. The gelding is also great with polite kids with "barn manners". However if there is a bratty, loud or misbehaving kid he will lounge at them. Before I knew he had this quality, as a yearling, he picked a five year old up by the hood of his jacket and tossed him over the fence (the kids fine, he thought it was fun) I didn't think it was fun though! Obviously, given the nature of the horse and the ever changing moods in some kids, the two are kept separate. But when he reacted I was about to swat the boy myself. His short fuse and gut sense for people seems linked to mine. Riding wise he is similar. If you're not paying attention to him, he notices and is off doing something else. If you're angry you might as well not even bother, he's up for a fight and you will not win. He is a great horse to teach the men who "man handle" horses, I will say that. He also loves to pick on a farrier with a short fuse but again, he sums you up before you've walked up to him.

So all in all, yes. He is intentionally "mean". He formed a decision based on his instincts to react and react how he saw fit, "mean". But no, he is never mean for "no reason" or " for the fun of it". I always see fault in the person he is reacting to. He always has every right to react and I have not discouraged him from this, if anything I'm sure I've promoted it some how as lets just say, if I'm not out there no one is stealing my horses with him around :)
     
    06-28-2011, 10:11 AM
  #19
Super Moderator
I think they can. My qh bucked every 2 steps on trainer she didn't like (on walk, on trot, on canter, same tack so pain was NOT an issue) with extremely pissed face. I don't think it's instinct, it's definitely something she did intentionally. I know plenty of other examples, when instinct just can't be a good explanation.
     
    06-28-2011, 10:13 AM
  #20
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doe    
As I say what is 'mean'? At least in horse terms.
That stallion sure sounded like red zone dangerous, but ultimately aggression is part of a stallions nature. When it comes down to it, a stallion only lives to secure a herd of mares and procreate. Aggression and dominance is part of that. The more of that he can display the more alpha he would be.
He isn't designed to be sentimental and feel bad about injuring others. He's just reacting to his environment.
I agree. I don't think that horses can be "mean" as we humans perceive it. It comes from somewhere. Though in his case I truly believe he had a few wires crossed in his brain. He had a very experienced owner (I met him in the early 80's and he'd been raising horses & working with stallions for decades.) He went through dozens of trainers & handlers all with various methods from very tough to awww, let's be friends, most not lasting a day. He had been pastured but could not be contained, he went through every fence and went after any horse, human, dog, etc that was around.

A bit off track, but I own stallions myself and there has always been a stallion in our barn since 1958. We've never had one that was aggressive or dominant. I've met lots of studs that I'd call rank but fixable, there wasn't any fixing that one. If treated like any other horse & taught right from jump they can be very upstanding citizens. My guys can be pastured with the mares, worked together, lined up head to tail between 2 mares in heat and won't so much as squeal. I'm not so naive to think that herd leader drive isn't in there but the oldest stud is 29, lived here his entire life and has not ever acted like the proverbial stud. My boss mare displays more dominance and herd control than the boys would ever think about doing and she lets them know it
     

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