Horse is aggressive around me

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Horse is aggressive around me

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    02-14-2010, 01:15 PM
Horse is aggressive around me

It's a question to "equine behaviorists" here.

My paint is aggressive towards other people when I'm around her. She pins ears flat on them, bare teeth, up to the point she may attack (I had it happened couple times and that looked pretty scary) or kick out. She does it to my parents, trainer I used to work with, etc. She's fine when I hold her for farrier and such, but if she's loose free or I'm on her she's nasty if someone comes too close. When I'm not in field while she doesn't like to socialize much with other people, she's not aggressive and let them brush, put blanket, etc. (as long as she knows the person well enough). Just a different horse.

So my question is why is she so aggressive? I tried to find some information, but without much success.
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    02-14-2010, 01:21 PM
Green Broke
The simple answer would be that she views you as being "her's" rather than the reverse (and, arguably more preferred) where you would be the leader and she is your's.
    02-14-2010, 01:22 PM
Green Broke
It's funny you should mention this, because I'm experiencing almost the same problem - except it's with horses.

Jynx is the lowest gal on the totem pole, and she knows her place. Until I'm working with her. When she's tied up, she's constantly trying to bite other horses on the face (Shay-la or Ashley will tie up across from me). When I ride her, I've had her delibrately deek out a good foot to the side to take a chunk out of someone's bum. Everytime someone passes me, she pins her ears and tries to dive for them.

I can't figure out if she thinks she's protecting me from them, or if she's figured out they won't fight back when being worked with and getting her licks in while she can. I'm hoping some of the advice you get can possibly help me to!
    02-14-2010, 01:44 PM
Interesting thread. What else I find interesting is that, so far, both horses are mares.
    02-14-2010, 01:51 PM
This is on your shoulders. You must demand more of your horse in the company of others. Every time she does this, she usurps your role as leader, and that's a no-no.

It's akin to the horse that pins its ears every time they pass another horse in the show ring, only your situation is a notch higher.

It's also a display of insecurity by your horse. If she felt safe and protected by you, there'd be no reason for her to take a dominant stance.

So, the answer is to improve your relationship with your horse and establish your role as a powerful leader who can be trusted to keep her safe in all situations.
    02-14-2010, 03:02 PM
Originally Posted by MacabreMikolaj    
It's funny you should mention this, because I'm experiencing almost the same problem - except it's with horses.

Jynx is the lowest gal on the totem pole, and she knows her place. Until I'm working with her. When she's tied up, she's constantly trying to bite other horses on the face (Shay-la or Ashley will tie up across from me). When I ride her, I've had her delibrately deek out a good foot to the side to take a chunk out of someone's bum. Everytime someone passes me, she pins her ears and tries to dive for them.

I can't figure out if she thinks she's protecting me from them, or if she's figured out they won't fight back when being worked with and getting her licks in while she can. I'm hoping some of the advice you get can possibly help me to!
Interesting enough Jemma is like that with other horses too (but not people). She knows it's forbidden for her to bother me or Kiara when I work with Kiara in field (like brushing her etc.), but if I just do something around the field or mess with Jemma she keeps our space and other horses are not allowed in (it's easy for her though, because she's always been alpha mare).

I'm not sure about the "relations" thing. She's looking for my guidance when I take her out to ride or work on ground. Also she knows I protect her from Jemma if needed (if she tries to get to Kiara's bucket), so she just steps away a little and wait for me to correct Jemma. She generally is a low-in-pecking-order horse. But as long as she's free in field she shows such a nasty behavior towards people. Also it's hard to correct because she's free and all that can happen on distance from me.
    02-14-2010, 08:01 PM
Green Broke
Mercedes - I disagree. You are "assuming" a lot about the situation, which could very likely have more then one distinct answer. In my case, Jynx does not act like this in the pasture - she stands and eats and grazes with these horses happily, and share scratches. Which is exactly what makes me think she is attempting to "protect" me. She doesn't spend all day running away from Justus - they eat and drink happily beside one another, and get along fine. Yes, Justus is an upper mare when it comes down to nitty gritty, but we rarely have squabbles.

So I do not see how this equates as Jynx not feeling "protected" by me and having to bite at other horses while under my supervision. She doesn't have to do it in the pasture, so what is it about standing at the paddock with me that makes her feel unsafe enough to bite Justus? These mares are not showing a single indication of aggression, which is yet ANOTHER reason why I tend to think she's taking advantage of the situation. She's lowest on the totem pole, and it's a brief moment for her to assert herself while the other mares aren't doing anything about it.

In my opinion, you are far to quick to blame the human in your posts, without even stopping to examine further possibilities as to the occurance of behavior. Maybe you prefer to dominate your horses every second, but I rather dislike beating them for every infraction to ensure they know I am "boss". We are seeking out answer, not accusations.
    02-14-2010, 09:15 PM
Lol while this is not desired behavior, in a funny kind of way take it as a compliment....however it has got to stop!

She is simply acting like the dominant horse and is keeping others away from are HER herd. The simplest way to fix this is to have a rope/training stick (not really a lunge whip as that can sting) with you and the MOMENT she starts acting aggressive drive her away or back her up assertively (I'm assuming you don't have a halter on her when she acts up). Keep your feet still as much as possible, this will drive home the point that you are the dominant one. Do not let her come back in until she softens and you think it's ok. Rub her and act like nothing happened.
    02-14-2010, 10:45 PM
I'm stuck in the middle on this one. I agree with Mercedes that it is an insecurity issue. However, I would see it not only as your relationship with the horse, but more so with the horses self experience. If I'm not mistaken, we are not only talking about two mares, we are talking about two fairly young and inexperienced mares, both mares that are low on the totem pole and in a state of social "awkwardness". I have two like that, I'll admit it, a 4 yr old and a 5 yr old, both with a bit of trauma in their past, that have some insecurity issues.

For Jynx, her insecurity is increased because her fight flight ability has been comprimised by being tied up. A horse with any insecurities relies on that mechanism more than anything. When we take it away or limit it, then they are going to be required to be on guard that much stronger. My 4 yr old is like that in her stall with other horses. Out in the pasture, she's bottom on the totem pole but gets along with everyone. Once in her stall, she turns into kung fu woman, making any observers think that she must be one bad lady. Many people immediately assume that since she is in her stall, she thinks that she can be mean to the others and be safe doing it. Looking at my personal horse's weaknesses, I disagree, I think that's putting too much human emotion into it. Looking at the horse, her past, her rank, her experience, I believe that she is explaining herself pretty well. Defensive patterns arise when the horse feels a reason to be defensive. This could be because they are physically limited by boundaries such as a rope or a stall wall, or because there is someone new approaching their herd, be it person or horse.

I do know another horse that shows similar issues towards people that kV is describing. He is not a young mare, but actually an 11 yr old gelding. He lacks social skills so is emotionally comparable to a young horse figuring out where they are supposed to be. He gets increasingly aggressive if his owner has company. I have taken care of him when his owner was away and although his manners were lacking, he was not aggressive. His owner says the same thing kV does, that he isn't bad if there aren't other people around and she is by herself. This horse is very insecure. Even though he has had a lot of undersaddle work, he is pretty physically wrecked from excessive drawrein use and poor training originally, he has minimal turnout, and he is only allowed to make visual contact with other horses, so he acts worse than my young girls by far. When these horses are reliant on whoever is around, they are going to feed on things that you may not even know you are experiencing yourself. We all get a little different when introducing our horses to new people. Your confident horses can shrug it off pretty well, but the insecure horse is like a sponge, not only taking that emotion, but quadrupling it before acting on it. With my friends horse, I found that it wasn't that he was defending her, but rather reacting from her increased energy levels when someone else was in her barn. If I could change her mindset, lower her energy and relax the situation, the horse also relaxed and his defensive patterns slowly became less extreme until they were gone. Keep in mind that these changes that I'm speaking of are so small that some may not even think that they are happening. I speak from experience, I also tend to turn into a ball of nerves when introducing someone new to my horses. My seasoned guys are very capable of blowing me off and taking care of themselves emotionally, but with a sensitive, insecure horse, the tiniest increase in heart rate can be easily blown up by them as there must be something to worry about (again, increased defensive patterns, fight or flight, due to insecurity).

Now, please don't jump down my throat about not knowing the horses or not knowing the people. I fully confess that I myself have contributed to a horse getting overly upset over nothing and I also have some insecure "defensive" girls that have a lot of work to do. So I do agree more with Mercedes on the insecurity aspect. I do not think that they are being overprotective of their people or taking a cheap shot because they can. I believe that it is more defending their space when the space is limited. I also think that they will get better with more experience. The have to be more secure in their skills and stronger in their bodies. Each horse is different, but they all follow the same rule book, sometimes they are just in different chapters.
KV, if I were you, I would do as Spirithorse said towards that behavior. I'm guessing this is when you are bringing people out to see her, which automatically puts her on a pedestal and throws the ball in her court. See if you can take someone out there with you and just ignore her. If she approaches with any type of defensive/aggressive behavior, send her away. Don't accept her into your herd until she is showing acceptable behavior. I hope this makes sense, its somewhat of a mouthful, I apologize.
    02-14-2010, 11:07 PM
^^Excellent post Flitterbug. Reading your story, I came to realize that my boy does this as well! This was a few months ago, but I literally spent fifteen minutes just trying to put a halter on him in his stall. I was in tears, no lie.....and of course I was just trying to show him off to my cousin, who's ten. I like working alone, so I instinctively just do things around him by myself....I ride in the arena by myself, I often make trips out to the barn when there are no people around or, if it is a busy time of day, I am off in the round pen while they are in the jump arena at the other end of the property. He is more aggressive towards me, other horses, and other people when I am around, and I have known that he is insecure about just about everything; his surroundings, his feet, sometimes me and what I'm doing. I've just never connected the two occurrences together. Lately we have been doing a lot of ground work, and it does seem to have made a difference in him overall.

I should mention that he is a race track veteran, and he's only been retired for about a year and a half. While he does seem to tolerate noises, happenings, and being worked on well for the most part, crowds and high activity make him strung out.

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