Food Aggressiveness - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-28-2009, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Michigan
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Food Aggressiveness

I just picked up this mare Monday as a resale project for me. No one could get her to load into a trailer. I have worked with everyday since on the ground and she now loads beautifully and is getting very respectful and responsive. However, when I feed her she is terribly aggressive towards me. I literally have to take a longe whip out there with me and longe her first. If I don't have the whip she pins her ears back and turns her butt to me and has even reared up and struck out at me. She is not disrespectful at all anyother time.

So what I have been doing is longing her in the padock doing lots of changes of direction to make sure that she knows I'm in charge. I try to get her to join up with me then walk her towards the food. After I do this, she has really kind eyes and is not aggressive at all. So it seems to be working but I have to do this everytime I feed. She is not getting any better.

I have never dealt with a horse like this and I wanted some feedback to whether that is the right thing to do or if there is something else I could try.

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post #2 of 7 Old 03-28-2009, 04:18 PM
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Claim the food.

Go in with the hay in one hand and the whip in the other. The whip should be down. Not held up in defense.

If she is at the gate, wave the whip and "kiss" or cluck to her to tell her to back off the gate to give you space. Claim that gate. Claim the space.

Think of it this way, when you go to the grocery store and come back out with your grocery bags, heading to your car, you have a natural sense of "My car." Same as when you park in your driveway and head toward your front door, you have a natural sense of "my house."

Feel strongly about your paddock. your hay. the same way. Not in a negative way, but say to yourself: "this is mine."

With that, spank the gate, flicker the whip in the air to get the mare to back off from the gate.

When she starts to back off, put the whip back in neutral, pointed to the ground.

Enter when she is backed off enough. Any time she steps in ONE step toward the gate again, stop entering and flicker the whip in the air, "kiss" to her (or cluck, doesn't matter. the noise is the light pressure you'll use later on as a cue by itself without the whip to tell her to move)

So...when the space around the gate is clear and she's staying respectively away and waiting. Then step in.

Walk to wherever it is you set the hay down. Keep the whip down in neutral.

Any time she takes one step toward you, immediately raise the whip and "kiss" or cluck and flick the whip in the air, while looking at her shoulder or chest. Don't look her in the eye. If you tell the body to move, the rest of the horse goes with it, and eye contact can be deemed as aggresiveness.

The moment she moves away, the whip goes back to neutral.

So...point is,....only raise the whip and flick it when she moves forward toward you and the hay. Get as loud as necessary, but don't start loud.

When she moves forward toward you start with just the kiss/cluck sound and look at the shoulder or chest and tell that body part to move away by flicking the whip a bit, then louder then louder still, until you are really making a big commotion and if needed, walking a bit toward her (just a step or two. because if she doesn't move at all, then you'll make contact with her shoulder, her hip, chest, etc to let her know you are serious)

The moment she moves away, leave her alone.'re in the paddock and she's staying back. Doesn't move at all toward you or the set the food down at your feet. And stand there for a few seconds.

Then kiss to her to invite her in. Look at the hip, to drive it forward. Be quiet about it, not a lot of commotion.

If she walks up and at any time pins her ears, immediately go to high pressure by making a big commotion with the whip. Soon as she backs off, leave her alone. Don't chase after her, just don't let her come near you with ears pinned.

If she walks up with ears forward, head low, quiet and no tension in the body, allow her to come in toward the food. Sidestep if you wish, but don't back off, don't back up. Stand there, let her eat while you're standing there.

Her body is not tense, her ears are up and not pinned and she looks calm and quiet, then leave (don't turn your back on her) sidestep and walk out sidestepping, not turning your back on her (can't trust her yet)

Then walk up casually and if she shows signs of tension, shoo her away instantly. The moment she moves off, stop all pressure. Then invite her back in with a good attitude (on her part)

The point is...she's trying to claim the food because there has been a time when she pinned her ears or a person, and that person backed off. So, she thinks she needs to be dominant toward all people.

You're not punishing her. You're just telling her that you are the dominant one not her (in a good way). AND you are also teaching her to move off pressure. And that if she respects the pressure, the pressure will go away.

Soon you both get into a routine of this, she'll understand that she's to be respectful and never try to claim the food and run you off.

Then you can use the use the whip less and less and the kiss/cluck sound more often and then you can eventually phase out the whip altogether. Be sure to use the sound first before you raise the whip, so she can memorize the pattern of what you're asking.

There's 2 problems here:
1. she tries to claim the food and run off anyone else around her
2. she doesn't give to pressure well, because she doesn't understand it as she should. so, applying this lesson in steps, you'll be teaching her that she can find a release of pressure not by rearing or all that stuff but by simply moving her feet. She moves, she gets a release of pressure.
Calamity Jane is offline  
post #3 of 7 Old 03-28-2009, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Michigan
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Thanks a alot. That was a novel lol! I guess I should add that this mare also has catching issues so I would have to stand by the hay for quite a while just to get her to come to me. She still doesn't get the join up thing neither. I can walk all the way around her and she will face me the entire time but will not walk forward with me. She just locks up. I couldn't even get her to follow me with bribbing her with hay. Which I guess leads to her next problem. She rears to get away from pressure on halter, thats way no one could get her into a trailer. She is getting better with a rope halter but I guess your starting to see why I got this mare for free lol. I knew it was going to be work but WOW!

I bring her hay in on a wheel barrow and as I'm walking by her she starts pinning her ears (I'm on the outside) so I imediatley yell, cluck or smooch to let her know I'm not having it. If have a whip in my hand she stays back, but if i go in with out she is not intimadated by me at all! I can be pretty aggressive when I have to be and she challenged to me to where I had to chase her with the wheel barrow just to give myself some added protection.

She is very reactive to the whip so I think she needs a lot of desentizing to it. But like I said I havn't had her very long and I'm not expecting miracles.

Once I send her around a couple times and try to get her to follow me (she doesn't understand this and just stares at me! So this is the part that takes forever!) I walk her over to the hay and pet her and she is fine. Today I had to do it twice as long as usual so she is not getting better. I guess I'll have to try that waiting thing, but I know I''m gonna be there for a LONG time.

Its weird she doesn't really crowd me while I'm feeding. I could go in there and throw the hay down and walk out just fine, but I don't like the body language she is sending my way and I just want to correct it before it gets any worse. I think thats probably what everyone else did, just ignore it or reward her by feeding her first and fast. She has definetly got away with alot through out her life. This mare is really something else. I have never came across one quite like her. I hope to get rid of her soon! lol

cowgirlfitzy is offline  
post #4 of 7 Old 03-28-2009, 11:55 PM
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I think what you have been doing is a good idea.

bgood400 is offline  
post #5 of 7 Old 03-29-2009, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Michigan
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Today I just waited by the hay and she longed herself for a little bit then she came up and I just stood by her and petted her. It didn't take as long so I don't know. I like the idea of her coming to me tho. I guess I will just keep playing with things until I HOPEFULLY don't have to anymore. Or Hopefully I sell her before then! haha!

cowgirlfitzy is offline  
post #6 of 7 Old 03-29-2009, 03:25 PM
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I found a video what clamity jane was talking about, and I agree with her methods, they seem to work very well.

have a look see.

you can start with nothing, and out of nothing or no way, a way will be provided.
aruraeclipse is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 03-29-2009, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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What you are doing sounds about right.

What I have always done is teaching the horse that I and no body else is out to get her and her food.
Starlight is offline  

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