Gelding with aggression issues

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Gelding with aggression issues

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    09-23-2009, 10:22 AM
Unhappy Gelding with aggression issues

My husband has a gelding that is 2.5 years old. He has worked doing some ground work with the horse is planning on some more intensive training.

Right now the horse is doing well accept for food aggression. Not sure why this developed, as he has always been well feed and cared for (no abuse or neglect in his past). Oddly, even when I am bringing him hay...he acts as if I am trying to take it away, He crouds and a couple of times has bucked and kicked. I think we have gotten the bucking & kicking mostly under control (but see below).

We have a colt that we plan to put in the same pasture as the gelding but am concerned on the level of aggression the gelding is displaying. Right now they are in pens beside each other. They get along until feeding time. One day my husband put their feed buckets on the same fence (but different sides). The colt moved over to the geldings bucket (he couldn't actually get to it) and stuck his nose through the fence to try and get the feed (much like he did with his dam). The gelding had a fit, rearing up and trying to kick.

Obviously they are a long way from being put in the same field together.

Any suggestions on how we might combat this aggressive behavior.
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    09-23-2009, 10:35 AM
Was he gelded late? Sometimes horses become territorial of random things and his behavior might not be about the food per say but about what it represents to him.

If you get a feed bucket and hold it, will he come to you and eat? Or maybe stand on the other side of the fence and add handfuls of grain as he calms down, if he's acting up he doesn't get any grain. If he's standing there patiently then he gets another handful.

If he is only posturing and not actually getting dangerous towards you with this behavior then I would take him in a ring or some place neutral with enough room to do the exercise and hold the feed bucket. If he's behaved he can come to you and eat, if he's not then you hustle his feet and get him listening to you. Back him up, move his shoulders, his haunches, make him do small lunge circles, etc. It doesn't really matter what you make him do as long as you're making him work and keep his feet moving until he calms down but I would suggest not doing just one thing or he will get bored and miss the point. The minute he stops the behavior and is calm, let him approach you to eat again.

Eventually he will figure out that bad behavior means no food. Also, if he's getting too worked up then leave him for a short time then come back and try it again. Don't just give up and give him the food, make sure that you have a chunk of time to see it through.
    09-23-2009, 10:55 AM
My paint Cochise was like that in the beginning..didnt even see it coming when I was cleaning out stalls they were eating and I went to walk around him he turned and tried to kick me...well suffice to say I had a melt down (LOL) yelled at him for about 30 mins (my horses think Im nuts anyway). Once I calmed down, I came up with my plan. I feed them grain once a day, usually in the evening, (I separate the horses for grain anyway because some eat much faster), so I held his feed bucket everyday for a week, so if he wanted to eat..he had to eat out of my hand so to speak. At the same time he was eating I would stick my hand in the feed bucket occationally just to let him know that I can do that. Eventually he would try to knudge his bucket over to the side of the corral with the hint to just hang it up and he could eat that way...but no my whole point was to show him where is food came from and I was his food source. It worked, did it for about a week, he has never become food aggressive with me or anyone around the barn again. All my horses tend to become more feed aggressive only with the grains (but only with other horses), as far as hay goes, the more company the better. Cochise is also my slowest eater.
    09-23-2009, 11:02 AM
He was not gelded until 24 months because he only had one testicle dropped. He had major surgery to remove the second. It has been only about 6 month since that surgery.

I have been told that this could cause him to be harder to handle. Which is why I am pushing for professional training.
    09-23-2009, 11:04 AM
We will try this for awhile and see how it works.
    09-23-2009, 11:23 AM
I would try what Nittany suggested, I would keep those feet moving. Moving,moving. And I would not put the two horses together yet,
    09-23-2009, 12:02 PM
I didn't mention the first time it happened was in his field right behind the covered shelter.

We usually drive up and throw the bales of hay over the fence (so we don't have to carry them as far), then move them into the covered sheltered area.

One day, when my husband was moving the hay bales the horse followed behind him and then reared up behind my husband. I yelled at him and he stopped but was being really pushing. I picked up a stick and held it at his chest level and he pinned back his ears. Finally he calmed down but then when I turned my back he came at me and reared up (I turned around to see him and yelled at him and luckily he stopped).

Next time we took hay out, I took a whip. When my husband went around the shelter to move the hay, I went around the opposite direction. That way my husband and the horse had to pass me to get to the shelter. The horse did the same rearing and I slapped the whip at him and he turned and ran.

Next time, we did the same but when he saw me he turned to run and kicked out as he did.

Next time, my husband was just acting like he was going to move the hay. The horse reared up on him and he did hit the horse (sorry to say we did hit him but he was being a danger and it was necessary to get his attention firmly). Since then the horse has never reared up, charged or kicked out AT US again (only took once)..... but he is still pushy towards us and aggressive to other horses when around food.

Yesterday I did stand right by his feed bucket and I could tell he didn't like it but I did it anyway. He kept knocking his bucket around, and I would just put it back.

To me we have to get this behavior modified or he won't be good for anyone. I do not trust but my husband thinks I am too concerned on this issue.

We will try the holding the bucket, that should be interesting.

I will not put the colt in with him unless we can get this resolved. I have put to much into the colt to see him get seriously hurt by the gelding.

We hope to move them to our pasture soon but I may have to put my colt in with my neighbor mare and colt instead of with our gelding....maybe by spring we will have him ready for a companion.

Any ideas are welcome, thanks
    09-23-2009, 01:51 PM
Ok now that I know he was gelded late it helps understand the behavior. Even though he is gelded he still has more testosterone than a normal gelding because his glands and sexual organs were allowed to develop longer than a horse that is gelded before a year old. You need to do A LOT of groundwork with him because my guess is that you kept him separate since he was a 2 year old stud? His problem is that horses naturally growing up in a herd learn their place and the social hierarchy. Since he is alone he has no idea that there is even such a thing and believes that he is the king, the czar, etc of his pasture and that you are merely his servant that brings things for him. You and your husband need to establish leadership with him on the ground. Starting with work on the lead and then progressing to liberty work with him so he knows that you are in charge whether you are attached to him or not. If you are not comfortable with this then I strongly suggest finding a professional to help you. Once he learns his place and what is expected of him he will be a much happier, healthier and socialized horse and once you have established that you are the leader you can introduce other horses and they will establish a pecking order. I suggest when you reach that point to put an older mare or gelding in with him to teach him his place before you introduce the stud colt. Good luck and keep us posted!
    09-23-2009, 02:18 PM
I defintiely think being gelded late has something to do with it. Getting his behavior under control with the colt starts with getting it controlled with you. Any time, and I mean ANY time, he pins his ears at you, postures to you or otherwise starts to escalate his behavior drive him away from you and don't let him come back until he has a nice look on his face. You don't have to yell or get big and aggressive, just drive him away from you with assertiveness. HOWEVER, it's up to you to feel how much pressure you can use safely because he does have a little stud behavior left in him and that can be dangerous if you over-step that fine line of being fair and unfair. He just needs to know that you aren't going to put up with snotty looks on his face! Lol.
    09-23-2009, 02:24 PM
The previous owner had him in with a herd of about 10 horses until he was about 14-18 months then separated him. Then we bought him and he was there until a few weeks ago when we moved him so we could work with him more.

He has had some ground work since he was 1 year old but I do think we will get professional help (once we identify the right trainer in our area). Right now he will halter, lead, accept pad and saddle but he needs a lot more work.

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