Can you modify behavior in a bully?

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Can you modify behavior in a bully?

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    02-24-2010, 01:12 AM
Can you modify behavior in a bully?

Up until 2 mos. Ago, my herd consisted of 3 geldings. Our paint, Tahoe is the boss, then our POA, Spirit and then my 5 yr. Old draft cross gelding, Cody is at the bottom. We added 2 pony geldings to the herd as companions and everyone gets along except my draft cross. When I try to turn them out to pasture (they've been living side by side in electric fencing pastures for 2 mos) everyone settles down to eat except Cody. He's like a pony-seeking missile, chases the ponies allover until they run through the electric fence to get back in their own pasture....... When I first introduced them, the smallest pony (11 hds) went prancing up to Cody (18 hds), squealing and striking. Cody looked a little surprised, swung his head over and looked at me, then turned back, laid his ears back and proceeded to chase the pony in circles around our orange trees like a freight train. Scary! I've put him in his rope halter and fed him next to them, disciplining and isolating him until he can eat nicely but as soon as I turn him loose, off he goes. Any ideas for how to bring the peace back to my pastures? Right now, I can either turn him out with the paint and POA, or isolate him and turn everyone else out but him...... I was hoping my other two geldings might get after him for acting so a-social but they just busy snarfing down grass...... My feeling is that he's been bossed around for so long, he's thrilled to have someone to boss around but he's taking it too far and playing the bully. Makes me wish I had a shock collar with a remote for my horse! Normally he's very friendly and submissive.
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    02-24-2010, 10:23 AM
Can you modify behavior in a bully? Yes.

Can you have your way in this case? No.

Most times the obvious answer is the best answer. Don't put the ponies in with him. He doesn't like him. Not every horse is meant to get along with every horse.
    02-24-2010, 01:26 PM
It would be really hard to correct that behavior because he is being a bully when you have no control over him. Dobe used to be a huge bully but the only thing that changed him was that John got older and began to feel more studly until he just beat the crap out of Dobe one day. Now, he is not so much of a bully to everyone else. Cody may be confused and just trying to make his place in the pecking order and it all may work out in time, or it may never change. There is jut no way to tell.
    02-24-2010, 02:34 PM
How big are your pastures that the pony can't escape him? Normally, horses don't chase just to chase...they get whoever out of their bubble and then go back to what they were doing. Do you have only one feeding spot? With 3 horses that get along that's fine...but adding 2 new ponies and expecting them to all eat from the same spot still is a little unlikely. When we added 2 fillies to our herd of mares, we went from one feeding spot to 3. Yes they chased each other from pile to pile...but everyone got a turn to eat and we have an 8 acre pasture for them to give chase and run in.

My mom's mare sounds the same as your big guy...only she was never bullied, she's just a cow. In a small paddock, she'll chase until she catches, bites, kicks, and whatever else. In a small paddock, she has to be with someone she gets along with or things end badly...BUT out in the pasture, there's enough room for her target to get away and stay away from her that it's no longer an issue. Maybe it's best to keep things the way they were? Keep your 3 together and the ponies it only one pony he goes after?

We also have a 14.1hh welsh cross mare that when she figured out she COULD bully someone, she took off after my Clyde/TB filly like a bat out of hell! Sometimes, when they first figure out they don't HAVE to be lowest man on the totem pole, they take advantage of it.
    02-24-2010, 04:03 PM
Another question - How long did you take to acclimate these guys? You may need to reintroduce everyone slowly and in different groups. There are some good threads on here about introducing horses to each other.

But it very well may be like Mercedes says, Cody just doesn't like the ponies. If you have the ability to separate them and keep them separate, just manage them as 2 separate herds.
    02-24-2010, 09:00 PM
Let's see, the pasture is about 1 1/2 acres in a rectangle with some orange trees and I don't feed them all together. The ponies have their own separate pasture and the other three have their own also but there isn't much grass in those areas so I like to turn them out into the bigger pasture. Cody will chase the ponies from one end of the acre to the other and around and they finally jump through the fence to get away from him. He chases both ponies but is submissive to my 13.3 POA. I've never seen a horse chase others like he does. Usually horses just chase the other horse off a little ways and it's usually over food. This seems to be for fun or something else because it isn't about food. They are all fed in their own mangers, well spread out and do well except when I add Cody to the mix.

We had the ponies for 2 weeks in the pasture right next to the other geldings so they could see and sniff each other. The other geldings haven't really had issues, just the usual initial squeal, sniff and then run off and start grazing. After the initial bad start with Cody, I left things alone for the next month and let the other 2 geldings hang out with the ponies but I tried again last week and it didn't go well. Oh well, the ponies are on a feed lease and I'm taking them back in about a week as I have some other boarders coming in. Hopefully that'll go better as they are full-sized horses and mares. I can't see the mares letting Cody boss them around! Thanks for your thoughts. He's always been so easy-going, we can trail ride with anyone, never an ear laid back or anything so it's surprising to see this side of him.
    02-24-2010, 09:12 PM
Ok well 5 horses on less than 2 acres...there's no room for everyone to claim a "bubble" of space. We have a separate paddock the size of your pasture but we keep no more than 3 in there at a time and only as a holding pen most times. Not sure how you keep grass in there with 3 horses in there full time? In any case, I hope the boarders get along better...I'd give them a couple weeks over the fence like you did with the ponies and introduce them one at a time instead of throwing 2 new ones in. Start with the more dominant of the 2 boarders...
    02-24-2010, 09:14 PM
Sometimes, the larger animals won't like the smaller animals because occassionally they associate something small with a predator. We had 2 draft mules that ran my little Olen nearly to death one day when he got in with them. At least it won't be a problem for that much longer.
    02-24-2010, 09:23 PM
^^^ true...I never thought of that. Especially since the OP said when the ponies went in, they lashed out with front legs and squealed at him!
    02-25-2010, 02:30 AM
Evenging Shadows-you must be from somewhere that gets rain!! In southern Cal it's very rare to have grass at all. My grass pasture is temporary, until the rainy season is over and I turn the horses/ponies out every couple days to try to keep it as long as I can. Their own pastures where they actually live and get fed are their space. Compared to most horses in Cal that live in 24X24 corrals, my guys are lucky :) The mares coming in don't get along with each other so we'll definitely have to take our time and experiment to see who they will tolerate in the pasture.

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