please help with a aggressive horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-30-2011, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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please help with a aggressive horse

Hello everyone I will keep this as short as possible We bought a gelding about a month ago.The place we got him had video of him trail riding and a ten year old riding him in the round pin .Sense we've had him we have taking care of a bad case of worms ,had teeth floated,found out he was ten after he was sold as a seven year old,had his feet trimmed which took two hours and he tried to kick her at one time then she said he had light thrush in all for feet .We have almost took care of that now.We have been doing some light ground work,he is very laid back.I was lunging him at a walk ,he walks on his near side and trots on his off side. He started walking on his off side which was what i wanted.As i changed directions with him again his ears when back and head went up and charged me .I took him back to the barn to get a crop for my protection and went back out and try to move him
forward and he came at me again . I popped him with the crop and we had a stair down i took him back to the barn and walked away.

I have never seen a horse have aggression toward a human like that only to other horses.He has never acted in such a way he's always been very calm but keeps his ears back a lot but not back like they were today.

any help on what to do now would be greatly appreciated. thanks..........
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 12:43 AM
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That's a very intimidating experience. I was working with a mare one who did this. This was about 7 years ago when I had much less experience working with horses. She kept rearing and turning toward me and rearing AT me, then coming down and snaking her head out at me. She was normally a very nice lady, so I decided that she had a good reason to be that upset. I tried to push our out of it with a lunge whip, but she was determined to fight. so, when she was in the place of standing quietly, i quit.

I felt that I had failed, but my trainer (who was not there at the time) said I probably made the wisest decision. Sometimes a horse will make the choice to fight, no matter what. If I had had more experience, I might have been able to convince the mare that I was much more dominant than she and that she would be best to give up the fight. As I could NOT make her believe this fully, she was willing to fight on and I could have been seriously hurt.

If you are with an aggressive horse, you have to be able to convince it that you are dominant, and that it is better for that horse to cease fighting and start getting along (that's the most common response of horses; to just get along). IF you cannot convince this horse, then please seek help in this matter.

I would consider getting a trainer to evaluate this horse as it seems the seller did not honestly represent it. Could be that with some work, it will turn out to be a nice horse, but you might be better off to get some help for a bit.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 02:46 AM
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Um, pretty sure what is needed here is not an abusive trainer, but a good trainer....

Force used is irrelevant. You can beat the hell out of a horse and still manage to make it all the more aggressive and dangerous for your efforts.

OP, are you sure he was that aggressive, or just challenging you? Get your crop and whack him if he tries any of that nonsense, for sure, and also stand your ground. Don't let his intimidation tactics work, and punish them appropriately. I do think that an outside evaluation with a competent trainer is probably your best course of action here, though, especially since you are scared. I have to question just how violent he is, however, since you say you have been doing groundwork largely uneventfully...
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 05:24 AM
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Big prob...
Well when he gets aggressive with you just shake the lead rope HARD up and down and send him out again, that worked with my aggressive Q.H. stallion.
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 05:35 AM
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arm yourself with a big stick and defend yourself at all costs. make sure that when he's like that you NEVER step away from him. you can step to the side if you need too, but HE has to be the one who puts space between you and him.

alternatively, do as amazincaucasian said and find someone else who is willing to go the distance with him. not specifically "abusive", but rough enough to get it done.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 06:24 AM
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I agree with some of the above posts. Horses are largely prey animals with strong herd instincts. The idea of a relationship with a horse is to present yourself as a leader to that horse. If that horse doesn't percieve you to be their leader, or they perceive you to be a threat to them, they will respond with either fight or flight, depending on their nature. In this case your horse has chosen fight.

There are two possibilities in this case:
1. Your horse could be seeing you as not being confident enough to be a leader and is challenging your authority, or...

2. Your horse percieves you to be a threat to their leadership, and is treating you like it would another stallion.

In each case, your first bet would be to get a test to ensure your horse is not a rig. If the person who sold him to you hasn't been honest about other things, then there is a good chance he hasn't mentioned this.

Second, when you work with your horse next and he charges you, stand your ground. It can be sh*t scary, but it's extremely unlikely that your horse will run you over. This is one display of dominance that is the easiest and most effective. It proves to your horse that you won't back down and that his tantrums don't scare you.

If you really feel out of your depth, then you can bring in a trainer, but you need to work with the trainer, not dump him on the doorstep. You can pay the best trainer all the money, but once the horse realises that you're not the trainer chances re he'll just revert to his old ways. However, if you work with the trainer, they'll give you an idea of the horse's personality and ways to deal with whatever he decides to come up with.

Sometimes none of this works out, and I know from experience. I had a horse very similar, but he used to throw riders at every opportunity. In the end, I had to sell him to a cattleman who was better equipped to handle him. It broke my heart, but it was better for him and for me. I moved on to a horse who was absolutely wonderful, and I know he's better off chasing cows :)

Kind, Confident, Consistent Leadership = Trust, Obedience and Respect
There is no such thing as natural horsemanship, because nothing we do with horses is natural. There is only good and bad horsemanship.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 07:32 AM
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IF you are frightened of this horse, YOU are not equipped to deal with him. I am not saying this to be mean. I am saying this so that YOU do not get hurt.

Standing your ground is all well and good (and it is good advice) but if YOU are not experienced enough to handle this situation, then either get someone who is OR send the horse to a new home with full disclosure as to age and behavior or send him to an auction. I know that is harsh sounding but being laid up from a horse hurting you is even more harsh.

A video of a horse bring ridden quietly may have included drugs...

If anything, this story sounds like you were cheated by the seller and points out WHY a person who is not very experienced should get a veterinary Pre Purchase exam. If the owner is unwilling to allow a PPE, then there are other horses for sale out there. Lots of them right now (tho not lots of trained ones).

Horses are large and can be very dangerous so if you are not capable enough to handle him, get a pro or send him on down the road.

Years ago the person I worked for bred her mare to a very good QH stud. The resulting foal was handled correctly from day one.. never abused.. and was gelded at an appropriate age. He was extremely aggressive (tho a very good horse physically). As a 3 year old he would come at you in the pasture on his hind legs with every intent of bashing your skull in. I carried a pitch fork with me when I had to pick up horse piles out in the paddock (I worked for someone else and putting him IN was not an option). I did not hesitate to USE the pitch fork either (and the horse learned this quickly). He would stand about 20 feet away with his ears pinned pawing the ground and shaking his head while I worked. He was itching for me to let my guard down. NOT funny.

This horse was eventually sold and became a 3 day eventer at relatively high levels but he was nick named man eater. One time his owner was in the box stall with him and turned his back and this horse took a hunk right out of the guy's back.

Like I said.. he was a great performance horse but was NOT a pleasure to be around or handle.

If you are looking for a horse you can enjoy and relax around, the one you have here may not be that horse.


There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
(or woman!!!! ) Dinosaur Horse Trainer
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-31-2011, 10:22 AM
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Horses learn by repetition, and more often than not they would rather run away from you than fight you. I would sit and think as to what you were doing when he became aggressive. In my opinion, some people try to use "method" to training horses, when they should be sitting back and studying the body language to figure out why they are getting the reaction. I have a "difficult" stallion, and if I remotely tried to "dominate" him i am going to lose that battle. He has been there done that.

my advice. put him in a round pen and just watch him for 10 minutes. then take him for a would be amazed on how much you can learn from just walking with a horse. Break the schedule he has been on and retrain him using very interactive basic methods.

I took my 12yr old Standarbred stallion, he was greatly abused on the track with electric prods, stall training with whips etc and he now runs in field with a mare children can and do handle him, I have never used a whip and never used "dominating" tactics.....just my opinon
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-01-2011, 08:52 AM
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Could you get video footage of his body language when you work him?
Also, have you tried letting someone else work him to see if he acts the same way?

I don't think you should "stand your ground" with him. That's dangerous if you can't do it properly or if the horse is not a "stopper" and has an extreme intent on harming you. Plus, when they charge you, they are pushing into YOUR space and that is extremely rude in the horse world. My suggestion would be that when he shows aggression towards you (pinned ears) immediately drive him back (whether with strong, downward snatches on his halter or by popped his front legs with the lunge whip) drive him away from you and advance into HIS space and show him that you are the boss and can take any space you want. Get his feet moving AWAY from you and soon it'll click that you are the aggressor and more dominant than him. If you haven't already, look up some Clinton Anderson videos. They'll help.

But, also try and establish if this behavior could be fear based. Sunny, my gaited paint was so terrified of people when I first got him that he'd charge you while you were just walking across the pasture (my AQHA appendix saved my butt a few times) and when I put him in the round pen, he tried to climb over it, shaking and wild eyed the whole time. After a lot of tlc and working with him he is now a total lovebug and is very quiet and content, although he still won't walk up to strangers. Video would help us all out a lot in giving advice but for God's sake please be careful!
Good luck with him and do not hesitate if you have to sell him. Maybe he's just not the horse for you.
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-10-2011, 07:10 PM
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The only reason I said to stand your ground is that the post put up didn't mention any really aggressive behaviour, like rearing, trying to bite, or kicking, which is what I'd expect from an aggressive stallion. It just sounds like a case disrespect. I'm not telling her to "dominate" her horse, because most dominating relationships are based on fear, and that's not the kind of relationship you want with your horse.

It does sound like there might be something that you could be doing that is scaring the horse, or they're in pain, or something they have a bad experience with. Studying their behaviour is a good way to find out a lot about your horse. A chiropractor might also be able to help with any pain he might be in.

Apparently the word "dominate" was a poor choice. I associate it with hierarchy, respect and leadership, whereas apparently there are some who seem to think I mean using fear tactics. I don't use whips or spurs, purely by choice and no other reason.

pcsprincess thankyou for your post. You managed to say what I wanted to.

Kind, Confident, Consistent Leadership = Trust, Obedience and Respect
There is no such thing as natural horsemanship, because nothing we do with horses is natural. There is only good and bad horsemanship.

Last edited by iridehorses; 08-11-2011 at 06:37 AM. Reason: unnecessary remark
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