Our mare is 11 and her colt (gelding) is now 5. They are boarded each winter at a wonderful horse ranch. The head of this ranch always separates our mare from her colt (she goes to an area about 1/4 mile away from him/colt). He found it necessary to separate them so he could train our colt. All goes very well. That is, until they come home. I do not have the space to separate them with such distance. They are fine horses, but we are having "buddy sour" comments from their farrier and their veterinarian. Also, and more critical - the colt took a nip at my elbow creating a huge bruise and broken skin (through my shirt no less). I was putting grain into his trough - so nothing should have precipitated this behavior (I was stunned to say the least).
I walk them down to an additional pasture and they walk along in a very well-behaved manner. When our colt first comes back from boarding his behavior is perfect - it is after a few weeks that he starts the nipping. My brother in law was here for a visit and was holding their 19 month old grandson up to see the horses. I cautioned them not to get close to the colt (or mare for that matter) - sure enough, I saw the colt try to nip at the little one. I did not want to make a big issue of it, but I have it my head that no one is safe around this colt. I still handle him with a degree of confidence, but I clearly have very little faith in him after he nipped my elbow. Our mare is very easy going and not difficult, but when the farrier or vet are here she acts like she's trying to protect her colt? I take one or the other out of the barn and turn into a small pasture right next to the barn - they carry on as if they're crazy.
Can this be fixed? I am wondering if the only real solution is to sell the colt. He is very smart and his behavior is as it should be when he's not around his mom. Our vet said he thought the mare would be fine as an "only horse." I sure would like to solve the problem without taking such a drastic step. Taking a whack at him when he nips has been offered as a reaction to the nipping, but there has to be some other way? How will this solve the "buddy sour" problem?
If anyone can relate to these issues and has a suggestion, please do reply!