My pony turns into a monster when it's cold, any advice?
I know this time of year some horses get cranky, but I think my pony takes the cake. He hates winter, I don't blame him, but he seems to take things to an extreme. He can be aggresive in his stall any time, comes from being a rescue and being protective of his food, so that I am used to. As soon as the temps hit below 30, he goes from bad to worse, he will charge the front of his stall when you walk by, kicks the wall repeatedly for no reason and if you try to go in his stall, he will turn and try to kick you. I thought maybe he was just cold when this started last winter (last winter was my first winter with him) so now he is blanketed when it is below 30, despite his furry coat, doesn't seem to make a difference. When I brush him this time of year he will strike on the cross ties and try to kick at me, so now we compromise and do a quick soft brush before a ride and then a full brushing after, he is much better after he goes out and does something, but with the temps in the single digits like this week, there wont be any riding. I should also note he was given a clean bill of health by our vet this fall so there are no physical reasons for his behavior, she said it is most likely just a pony attitude when it is cold. Does anyone else have a horse or pony that hates winter? Any advice on anything else I can do or just leave him alone when it is this cold (other than cleaning his stall and fixing his blankets)??
If he is confined to his stall for long periods that could account for the frustration. I sounds like he needs to get his little butt tuned in, many of the things he's doing are totally unacceptable.
My horses love winter and are energetic and happy, even at -20 celcius.
I would also move on from the "he was neglected and is thus food agressive" thing. We have a gelding on the farm that was 500# under weight and near death. He has never even thought about being food agressive. The best thing you can do for a mistreated animal is forget they were ever mistreated.
I also agree that you shouldn't tolerate the attitude, regardless of the reason, good point. I think that just having him sit in his stall when its cold because of his attitude is making things worse. I say work him more when he's acting this way, and don't let him get away with the attitude. I am curious if he gets adequate turn out though. Posted via Mobile Device
He is out half the day in the winter, the boarding stable they are at has them split into 2 groups that split the day, he seems ok when outside, just a busy body, I tried putting him out all day last year and he just stood by his door the whole time (I think more bc no one would "play" with him, and there was one gelding that kept attacking him) so this winter I decided against it, and he is always excited to come in at noontime. I try to get him out whenever I can, even if its just a few minutes in the indoor to run and play.
I think a lot of the food aggression comes from the "foster farm" he was at, they never so much as yelled at him when he was being a snot, and she about had a heart attack when I smacked him for kicking me, needless to say he has been repremanded for his behavior, but when he is in a mood, he wont back down to you, he has actually come after me after repremanding him. He is a very smart pony, and I have done some clicker training with him to work on his attitude and outside of the stall it seems to work, I think my next project will be working in the stall with him.
Food aggression is part of the horse hierarchy. It sounds like he doesn't like his stall and many horses don't as they feel trapped. Some are more stoic and will mentally shut down. Horses worry about predators even if none are around. It's an instinct that's kept them alive, otherwise horses wouldn't exist. If he stands by his door during turnout, he's just protecting his back end when he's snoozing. Instead of cross-ties, why not just flip the lead over your shoulder? Again, he may feel trapped in the ties. Knowing he can escape the other vices may stop. Don't try it once, but do it for at least a week.
Sounds like he needs more exercise and an attitude adjustment. Have you thought of feeding him free choice hay with a slow feeder? That may keep him busier, happier, and the constant digestion may warm him up.