Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Our mare is about 6 months in foal, and just in the last month, she has gotten positively nasty towards other horses when she is being ridden by the student in group 4H lessons. She hasn't tried to pull that with me yet, but I think she knows she can with the kids. When a less familiar horse (she is okay with her heard buddies) comes within range of her, she pins her her ears and charges toward them with her head ready to bite. She hasn't backed up her threats yet, but man what a difference in her attitude lately. Is this common with pregnant horses?
Just for my input: I agree with spirithorse that establishing your dominance from the ground and in the pasture will probably work wonders to show her that it is not her job to run off other horses from you, but your job to choose when to run other horses off from her.
When my stallion got a little upity (stallion territorial) with me while he was penned with our mare, I went after him like I was a dominant stallion. I used my posture and a very aggressive sort of horse bellow to run him all around the pen, but kept him away from the mare. She was freaked out at first until she realized that he was my "target", then she just stood there letting me run him around and keep him away from her. By the end he was standing at distance looking very alert at me like, "what the...??" He hasn't tried to pull dominance on me since, although I am sure he will again at some point.
I would practice keeping her away from the other horses in the pasture while you give them attention and also practice keeping the other horses away from her while you give her attention (rather than letting her run them off for you).
I bet if you can get a change in attitude from the ground, it will carry over well in the saddle. If you could do it in a controlled environment, you could then practice the same thing form the saddle. Maybe in an arena with one other horse..have them ride near you (but not near enough to get hurt), and then if she shows any signs (tense, pinned ears, starting to charge), get ahold of her, hop down, and run her well away from the other horse. Work her a bit while keeping her away from the other horse. Then get back on and give it another shot. Make sure your tack is secure enough not to get stepped on while you are moving her around at liberty. If you see improvements doing this with the first horse maybe try it with different horses or even multiple horses. Just make sure nobody gets so close to you that you can't get ahold of her before she is able to strike. You and the other riders would have to really be on your toes. I would definitely try to make the change in dominance in the pasture first, and then maybe try it from the saddle. I have no idea whether this idea would work from the saddle, but I say it is worth a shot if you can remove the behavior. :)