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Horse afraid of cattle

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  • Horse afraid of cows
  • My horses is afraid of cattle in fields

 
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    11-25-2013, 02:18 PM
  #1
Yearling
Horse afraid of cattle

How do I make him not be?

I live in a farming community. There's a field with cattle down the road from my house. The way my neighborhood is set up forces you to ride down the road passed the cows in order to get to the dirt roads, fields, and woods to ride. There's not another way to get there.

And my poor boy is absolutely terrified of them.

When he sees them he doesn't buck or rear or anything, but he starts sweating and he spins once or twice and once he just decided that he was done for the day, spun around and bolted for the barn.

I've worked with him to the point where he no longer bolts, but he still sweats and prances and veers to the way other side of the road and wants to just run by. He acts the same regardless of if another horse is there or not.

When the cows aren't in the pasture or are far enough away, he's fine. He looks at them like a champ and just marches right by, but heaven forbid they be by the road because then they're obviously a monster coming to eat him.

There aren't many cattle. Never more than 10. There's always a bull (kept separate most of the year), a few cows, and their calves. The cattle never pay him any attention, they always just eat.

What gets me is that he used to work with cattle. His old owner did rodeo stuff with him - barrels, flags, poles, and some team penning and cutting.

He was mostly a barrel horse, but he dabbled with the cattle.

So at one point in his 18 year life he was with cattle on a pretty regular basis. He was even kept with cattle at his old house.

Also, my father's slaughterhouse shares a driveway with our barn. My dad picks up deceased cattle on farms and processes them for the pet food industry. So he he sees cows -albeit dead ones- every day. The dead ones don't bother him. Just the live ones.

I've had him for nearly 4 years now and he's always been afraid of the cows.

Do you think something might have happened involving the cows and that's why he's afraid? Or do you think he's just using them as an excuse to be a knucklehead?

How do I get him over his fear?

Putting a cow in our pasture is not an option (Dad said).

Any other ideas?
     
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    11-25-2013, 02:38 PM
  #2
Green Broke
Are you able to set up some lessons? If so, find a cutter/roper type trainer and see if you can take a few lessons to get him over the cows. Lessons would give you a controller environment to work in.

(I'm in the middle of swapping barns but I myself have a barn on standby to do this very same thing with my horse.)
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    11-25-2013, 08:08 PM
  #3
Started
Don't despair. A lot of horses are leery of cattle at first. Continued exposure usually gets them over it. Being calm on your part helps.

It doesn't sound like you are going to, or wanting to, do cattle work with your horse, but sometimes the ones who start out a bit unsure become very, very good.
     
    11-25-2013, 08:19 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverSunRider    
When the cows aren't in the pasture or are far enough away, he's fine. He looks at them like a champ and just marches right by, but heaven forbid they be by the road because then they're obviously a monster coming to eat him.
When they're by the road, can you get him to stand on the other side of the fence and just watch them graze for a bit? Usually curiosity overcomes the fear. That worked for our 2 young mares who had never seen cattle. Just watch our for cows w/calves that come close to the fence. I've met some pretty mean cows trying to protect their babies.
     
    11-25-2013, 08:42 PM
  #5
Weanling
Exposure over and over. My mare was terrified of cattle and the first time she saw them turned and ran the other way. Now she loves to push them around;
     
    11-25-2013, 10:05 PM
  #6
Started
When I boarded, my mare was scared of cows too. When we bought our own place (complete with cows) and moved her there, she kicked the cows out of THEIR barn by the end of the day!
     
    11-25-2013, 10:15 PM
  #7
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverSunRider    



What gets me is that he used to work with cattle. His old owner did rodeo stuff with him - barrels, flags, poles, and some team penning and cutting.

He was mostly a barrel horse, but he dabbled with the cattle.

So at one point in his 18 year life he was with cattle on a pretty regular basis. He was even kept with cattle at his old house.
I'd like to draw everyone's attention to this bit. Not that I don't appreciate everyone's help and I'll be sure to look into everyone's ideas, but at one time in his life he was NOT afraid of cattle and now he IS. There lies the confusion.
     
    11-25-2013, 11:55 PM
  #8
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverSunRider    
I'd like to draw everyone's attention to this bit. Not that I don't appreciate everyone's help and I'll be sure to look into everyone's ideas, but at one time in his life he was NOT afraid of cattle and now he IS. There lies the confusion.
You're right. I did miss that. Sorry.

I'd still use exposure and I'd still ride him calmly. It's hard to tell whether those who used him on cattle knew what they were doing. He may be fine grazing with them, but get anxious when being ridden.
     
    11-26-2013, 01:34 AM
  #9
Trained
My mare has been penning, sorting, and gathering cows a million times and she still snorts and acts like a moron at first.

Push him forward and don't take no for an answer. He needs to be exposed and know that he is expected to do a job. Is it possible to push the cows and make the move away from him? It may be he is anxious as well, thinking he's going to get yarded on or cowboyed, if he wasn't put on cows properly he may be nervous about the work involved. If the cows move, he may go to work, or he may regain confidence that they are in fact going to run away from him instead of hurting him, and if you ride calmly but assertively than he will learn he's not going to be asked to work hard, and it's no big deal.
     
    11-26-2013, 12:45 PM
  #10
Green Broke
I got that be was not scared of cows before and now he is. It doesn't matter - horses don't use the logic we do. He could also have bad a traumatic incident. Point is, he's scared now so has to be trained the same way as a horse without cows in their background. You don't have a way to remind him that he used to chase them so you have to start from scratch.
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