Getting a gelding to act like a gelding. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 05:11 AM
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Will doing groundwork help him behave better in general?

He is amazing in hand. Doesn't cause any problems. He can be right next to a mare and if I see him even look at her all I have to do is say his name and he will look back to me. He respects space, doesn't try to run you over or pull you or anything. If he has a halter on or even a rope around his neck then he knows it is time to work and not act like a dingus. Of course he is still hot under saddle, but that is just his personality. On the ground he is great.

Put him in a round pen and you can just stand beside him, with no lead rope. If you walk, he walks. If you jog, he trots. If you stop, he stops. If you turn, he turns...etc. In that matter he is well behaved. He is just irritating with other horses when I am not there. I never actually get to witness the behavior I am telling you all about, I just hear about it from the barn owner.
Probably not to fix his manners (as he seems to already have them) but to give him something to think about and get him learning. They don't have to be respect exercises, could even be teaching him tricks like smiling (pretty sure he is flipping that top lip a lot anyway) or liberty work.

I found teaching Brock some more difficult liberty stuff really helped settle him down and he stopped being so fixed on his neighbours, whether I was there or not. I teach him new stuff under saddle too, but there are less limitations ability-wise and fitness-wise on the ground so the liberty work really does have value. He still will show interest in a mare in heat but jeez, they're flipping their tails and pressing their butts toward him and peeing everywhere - poor boy can't escape the female attention! They all seem to think he's the horse equivalent of Tom Cruise (only taller of course! ).
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post #12 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 08:01 AM
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I have seen behavior changes many times. Any horse's behavior with other horses is always relative to the herd they are in.

One of the most frequent causes is when a gelding is put in with or next to a mare. Geldings can go nuts when they fall in love with a mare. I have seen this many times. They just become a completely different horse.

They can also become a completely different horse when they have always been submissive and suddenly they have different horses in their herd and overnight they become dominant and act like a 'herd sire' that needs to control all of the other horses they are in with or near. I have sold timid geldings that barely came up to feed and the new owner called and told me that the horse ran her old gelding through a fence and ran around strutting like a stallion.

The first thing you need to do is address the herd-bound thing. The best way to do that is tie him up in a safe place as far away from other horses as you can and let him stand tied until he 'gives it up'. It could take all day or even all day for 2 or 3 days. They all finally give it up. This helps them a lot.

The other thing you can do is put him in with a very dominant gelding that he will instantly become submissive to. I have had to switch one around 2 or 3 times before I found a place for him that he had to be a low man on the totem pole.

A horse's herd structure and where they are in it determines a lot of their behavior. It seldom has little to do with Testosterone levels except in stallions. That is why a breeder like myself runs stallions together or with geldings. Their Testosterone levels drop immediately and they start acting like geldings. I used to have a Vet send off lab tests to test levels on geldings with stallion-like behavior. All but one came back normal and it was a horse with a retained testicle that had been sold to a lady as a gelding. And even he did not act out until he was put by himself. When she bought him, he was in with other geldings and acted just like one of them.

I hope this sheds some light on why geldings can seem to change overnight.
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post #13 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 09:17 AM
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They can also become a completely different horse when they have always been submissive and suddenly they have different horses in their herd and overnight they become dominant and act like a 'herd sire' that needs to control all of the other horses they are in with or near.
That makes total sense. Explains my old geldings behaviour. He was 2nd in command for years, and when the dominant horse was moved, he turned into an absolute tyrant.

If he's herdbound when you're riding him, you can also try working him harder near the other horses. Then, after you've worked him a bit, walk a little ways away, giving him a break. If he starts acting up, bring him back to the other horses and make him work harder again. Eventually he'll start looking for a break, and he'll realize he gets to relax when he's away from the other horses. It's worked for me.
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post #14 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 09:28 AM
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The biggest problems with working a horse instead of tying one to get it over being herd-bound is that if a horse is really wound up, they will cripple themselves before they slow down. This is especially true of hot-bloods like TBs and Arabs. Resting is not a reward. Also, with older horses or very young horses, the 'fix' can be really damaging. I think it is just better to tie one up and let him figure it out.

As for herd dynamics -- I love having a very dominant horse that is not mean or going to hurt other horses. It keeps every other horse in the group in line and makes them easier to train and handle in every way. Some still get herd-bound, but they do not go crazy enough to self-destruct or hurt other horses or people.

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post #15 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 09:39 AM
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I have a mare that would behave like this if she were kept in the same situation as your gelding - she is over protective of her space - doesnt like horses saying 'Hi' over her stable door and has to have a full height partition so she cant see the horse next door
If she's in the field with any other horse or trailer or riding out she is 100% sociable and sweet natured.
Some horses feel very vulnerable in an enclosed area - no means to escape an attack so feel they need to be constantly on the defensive
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post #16 of 18 Old 12-06-2012, 09:40 AM
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Worked for me. It took some time - maybe five to 10 sessions - but eventually he realized it was easier to just go for a ride.

I guess I should add I didn't physically work him super hard. Maybe worked him moderately hard in a physical sense (lots of trotting, some loping), but mentally I really worked him. Transitions, changing direction, not getting into any sort of pattern. Walking and trotting through trees and over lots and lots of logs, so he had to pay attention. Using leg pressure to direct him through trees. The further we got away from the other horses, the easier it was for him, and now he's generally well-behaved on solo trail rides.

I agree you don't want to end up hurting your horse, but I don't think you have to run them into the ground to make this work. Tying up might work, too. Different things work for different horses.
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post #17 of 18 Old 12-07-2012, 01:24 AM
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Yeah... I'd say teach him some tricks or something, and also having a pasture buddy will likely help as well. Horses are naturally herd animals, and do better when in groups or pairs

"It is the difficult horses that have the most to teach you" - Double Dan Horsemanship
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post #18 of 18 Old 12-07-2012, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Cherie View Post
The biggest problems with working a horse instead of tying one to get it over being herd-bound is that if a horse is really wound up, they will cripple themselves before they slow down. This is especially true of hot-bloods like TBs and Arabs. Resting is not a reward. Also, with older horses or very young horses, the 'fix' can be really damaging. I think it is just better to tie one up and let him figure it out.

As for herd dynamics -- I love having a very dominant horse that is not mean or going to hurt other horses. It keeps every other horse in the group in line and makes them easier to train and handle in every way. Some still get herd-bound, but they do not go crazy enough to self-destruct or hurt other horses or people.
Couldnt agree more. I ride a 4 coming on 5 TB who is awesome when his buddy's are around. One of em walks off or gets in the trailer. He gets all worried. So we intentionally leave him behind tied up. Gets better each time. Makes it even harder that he's top gelding. Oh well at least they know how to be horses.
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