Need Some Advice With Herd Bound TB - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-07-2013, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 139
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Need Some Advice With Herd Bound TB

My TB gelding, Flint has recently become extremely herd bound to the point hes becoming unsafe to be around. Bit of a background leading up to this: We got snowed in end of march to the point my fences were covered and the horses had almost no where with low snow amounts to walk. Had to evacuate them to a barn nearby as they actually escaped on me and we had no way to clear the pasture. At first him and my WB gelding, TipTop, were on the bottom of the pecking order. Flint slowly worked his way into a small group and TipTop kinda floats. Then we got a two new mares and a yearling filly. They were picked on bad and out of no where Flint took over and started keeping watch of them and beating up anyone that came by them.
Forward to now, a couple weeks later, and hes extremely attached to all three but mostly one. If I try to take him away he calls for them almost none stop. Doesnt care what your trying to do and doesnt pay attention to you. First time after this I was grooming and managed to make it through. Sunday, a week after this, I couldnt even groom him as he would paw, yell and even try to kick. I try groundwork then try to go back to grooming and nope, same thing. Take him into the outdoor arena and work him on the line until hes calmed down. Hop up and ride him a bit. As soon as we stop and leave the arena hes a mess all over again.
Yesterday the farrier was out to trim them and a few others, one being his "girlfriend". He still calls even with her in the pen. We let him be the second last out of 6 to see if he would calm down. He appeared calmed but could hear the horses out in pasture and everyone starting calling again. He one foot done and she was trying to get the other front onto the stand. He just wouldnt. Then she tried to pick up that front one and with the same back leg he kicked towards her, just brushing her head. She said she couldnt continue and I dont blame her, so no finishing on one front and nothing on the backs (he was done 4 weeks ago so not badly overdue)
After we finished talking I went to work him in the round pen again and he actually got pretty sweaty and a good work out, was pretty tired by the end. Then again we leave the arena and he starts at it all over again.

Now, I cant work him extremely hard due to a SI injury 3 years ago. He can do w/t limited canter till he builds more muscle and no collection unless he does it all on his own on a loose rein.
Ive owned him since 2006 and hes 12 now. I have never had him act like this since Ive owned him so Im really confused on what to do. We are thinking of trying natural calming herbs or something of the sort. I would really like training advice too though. We really dont know what to do with him at this point

If you read this all, thank you! I know its long.
FlipFlopTipTop is offline  
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-07-2013, 11:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Eastern Virginia
Posts: 51
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My mare used to act like that, though after a while with me constantly taking back the lead role, cutting her from the herd while in pasture and not taking her dominate behavior, took 5 months of constant attention I also "took" over the herd, and about 4 times a month or when ever i feel like it I take the herd back as Mine, they don't leave the area i drive them to and she doesn't come in unless she submits and softens. To me that means, no pinned ears, soft calm walking, low head and lack of swishing tail when I know flies aren't present. Its not really a science but It worked on my mare, she was so bad in the first month I bought her she cracked my ribs, broke my foot and dislocated toes. Now she's fine, yes I have more work to do with her but she does just fine.

No idea if this will help you but maybe if you can take something from it it'll help?
boots likes this.
TruCharm is offline  
post #3 of 4 Old 05-08-2013, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
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Thumbs up Be a Herd Leader!

Sounds as though your TB is quite a handful. I understand and know how you feel. I have had horses like this and it makes riding -not much fun any more.
I was going to suggest you see if he was a 'rig', but you mentioned you have had him for a while and have not had issues until recently! I have found establishing a herd leader relationship with your horse helpful.

I like TruCharms idea of being herd boss.

And you also gave a good key when you said ...
"Take him into the outdoor arena and work him on the line until hes calmed down. Hop up and ride him a bit. As soon as we stop and leave the arena hes a mess all over again."

This identifies:
a) he calms down when you work with him
b) he is rideable and focuses on you
c) when he has no leader he becomes leader again!

So - Be herd leader.

You can do this by lunging, working in a round pen, ground work with many of the horsemanship exercises available. You may find it helpful to enlist the assistance of a local 'cowboy' or knowledgeable horse person to give you some tips on how to proceed if it is a new concept for you.

Focus on being the boss and establishing respect within the 'herd' (namely you and your TB).

This may stem from a dominance thing or maybe he is insecure and requires a strong leader to give him confidence.

USING HERBS/Essential oils
I use essential oils and direct pet and horse owners how to apply essential oils to help their pets, on many different levels (physical, physiological, psychological, emotional and 'spiritual'). I bring my expertise as an Certified Animal Aromatherapist so horse owners understand the complex nature of essential oil therapy and how they can use these oils to calm/heal and emotionally assist their horses, and themselves.

As far as calming goes - the standby 'go to' oil is lavender. It is known for its calming influence. There are many others oils you can use (geranium, vetiver - for grounding, but lavender is common and you can purchase it at most health food stores (just be careful of the quality) and it is safe to apply AND it smell lovely! :)

I have had success with lavender with an Arabian pony who was hot/cold. that is to say run away and lethargic all in the same riding session. I put one drop of lavender on my hand, rubbed them together and held them under his nose. He immediately pushed his muzzle into my hands and licked my hands. He was calm and interested in his work during his ride.

You may also try Marjoram - this help relieves anxiety, calming and an added benefit of helping reduce amorous advances of geldings (nudge nudge - wink - wink). Put a drop on your hands, rub them vigorously together to warm the oils - then offer the horse your hands to smell or lick.

If you would like more information please feel free to contact me.

~Laura at

Thank you for taking the time to write a post and be active in this forum. Please visit me at Thistle Ridge Stables. I'd love to hear from you!
ThistleRidge is offline  
post #4 of 4 Old 05-08-2013, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 139
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Thanks guys!
I have been working on trying to be his leader. Im familiar with natural horsemanship and try to work with him on it. Its hard though as I cant get out often. I have a young son and cant take him with me so Im limited to weekends really. I have just been finding hes getting worse and worse, even with me working with him.
He understands what Im asking. Will do groundwork perfect once calmed down. He will have his rope halter on and be on a loose line and will follow doing w/t sometimes canter. Stop as soon as I stop. Turns, backs up, will go off to lunging after a turn etc. Its just like he has no interest in me being herd leader or even listening to me once we stop working. I try to lead him out of the arena and we can make it out and towards the barn and then BAM he blows up again.
I know its all due to his herd and that this will stop once hes back home. Its just it makes me feel like giving up till he gets home but he needs his feet done before that. at 17hh, were not about to try to fight with him to do his feet when he acts out by kicking at us. Hes never been like this and it upsets me to no end.

Im going to look into trying to get some of the oils and see how it goes after that. I should be out again this weekend so Ill see then. Hopefully things start looking up. I gace the barn owner the okay to work with him if she wants as she has been working with his "girlfriend" on being herd bound. Shes seen him being worked in the arena so knows what shes in for with him if she does decide to try.
FlipFlopTipTop is offline  

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