URGENT: Aggressive Yearling
 
 

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URGENT: Aggressive Yearling

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    12-16-2010, 07:22 PM
  #1
Weanling
URGENT: Aggressive Yearling

When we first received our 2-year-old pony, she was very affectionate and "cutesy." She was well broke (for experienced riders), but spent most of her day tied up while the other horses got used. We never got people with enough experience (that were of the right weight) to ride her. We've had her now for nearly a year.

Unfortunately her behavior has taken a turn for the worst. After several barn hands decided to take disciplinary means into their own hands (going from smacking her neck and saying "NO!" to pinching her lip/neck and twisting her ear). Progressively her behavior went from that of a 2-year-old pony all the way to a hateful, malicious yearling.

At first I had no issues out of her. While she was biting other people and trying to kick them (she even chased one man out of the area), she would walk to me with ears pinned and quickly prick them to get a pet or to lick my palm, even though there was nothing there.

While she still gave at least one person no issue, there was still hope. But then there's the hay guy; while unraveling the twine, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with him while we pulled it off the large round bale. Some horses anxiously ate off of it. As he passed the pony he rudely shoved her head away from the bale and we moved on -- putting me into her path. She landed a good bite on my shoulder, at which point I turned and yelled at her.

Had I smacked her the situation then would have turned dangerous. It's when you reprimand this pony, even with a simple slap, that she will turn her rear towards you and make a blatant attempt to fire both barrels and connect. Putting "Hay Guy" in this position was not what I wanted.

Today, as always, I went out to do a wellness check (just a basic injury check). Pony approaches me. I pet and love on pony. Pony chases other horses away as I try to check them. Pony gets scolded. Since she wouldn't let another horse near me, I stood at a distance to check a gelding for any obvious injuries. As I stood there, with Pony's head at my side, I noticed she was turning away from me at an odd angle. I turn to look just in time to see a foot in the air and feel her hoof connect to the back of my thigh.

I scolded her and she was fine, approaching me and "licking" (using her lip to rub my arm, as well as licking it). To my knowledge this is an "equestrian apology."

Later, while I was trying to check a band over (a band of which she's a part, though the other mares disapprove of her and "bully" her as often as needed). Pony approaches me and proceeds to start moving her rear towards me. Sensing an incoming attack I moved a couple steps back, scolding her again. She continues twice more. Had my back not been to a wall (literally), I'd have been less inclined to move away as I did. "Whoever's feet moves first, loses."

Before leaving the pony tried to kick another worker multiple times. Before she was a 2-year-old, now she's a Holy Terror. Any tips as to how we should handle her? I'm at a loss and have tried several things. I want to do some respect lunge work but I'm barred due to a coming Christmas party (this Saturday) which I "have to help prepare for."

I no longer want to have to carry a lunge whip or crop (jokingly called the "Pony Paddle"), because it's when you smack her that Pony matches your aggression with a rear-end turn towards you. I would normally scold her and apply pressure to the bridge of her nose (similar to where some halters would cross over their noses). When her ears would come up I'd pet and love on her. But now I don't know if I should pay attention to her at ALL. It's a shame because she is gorgeous and is a good riding horse; she hasn't been under saddle for some time and the last time she was worked in the round pen she chased two young ladies out of it.

She's really gotten too dangerous, especially with children who like to pet and treat her and even children who work with the full-sized horses and enter the pasture. What else can I do about this?
     
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    12-16-2010, 07:49 PM
  #2
Started
First thing I would do is make sure that no one goes into that pasture unauthorized, or you move the pony to a more secure place where you can monitor who comes and goes, to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible. I would not ignore her when she goes to kick or bite at you, as that may cause her to start getting even more aggressive. I would make her move. Do it in a safe area to begin with, and have a lunge line or longer lead rope attached to her halter. As soon as she looks like she's moving her butt towards you, make her swing her butt away from you, and make her move her feet. As soon as she perks her ears up again, gets a soft eye, lowers her head, whatever her submissive cue is, let her stop. Keep doing that every time she tries to kick or bite you, until you get her respect back. Don't smack her with the rope, or whip, just swing the rope in big circles quickly, right next to her rear end, and that should get her to move away. When she is being good, show her lots of positive attention. It sounds like a combination of her getting tired of always being bullied and pushed around, and her being proactive about making sure that she can't get smacked or pinched, or whatever other means of reprimand were used. I wouldn't feed her treats by hand either for a while, cause that can cause her to be even more pushy in a bad way. She has unfortunately learned that if she's proactive, if she chases someone out of the stall or arena, or pasture or whatever, then they don't come back, and leave her alone, same with the biting and kicking. Now she needs to learn that those behaviors no longer get her left alone, instead they get her more work, in a non aggressive way if you can understand that, basically that she is no longer getting pain either from being bad. And as soon as she behaves that's when she gets all the positive happy attention. I'm sure others can come up with other ideas, and it may take trying several different things before you hit on the right one that gets through to her.
     
    12-16-2010, 08:02 PM
  #3
Weanling
Thank you, DressageBelle! I planned on using "Lunging for Respect," from an episode I took notes on from Downunder Horsemanship. But this party coming up puts a lot of stress on us and it's hard to find the time to work when the few hands we do have are all available.

I read up that when the horse shows like it's about to throw out an aggressive act to love on it, like Peppi le Pew (spelling?) and his girlfriend the black cat. Then the horse will really have no issue because, as it was said, the horse will "go to the other horses and say, 'I kicked her because she pet me.'"

When I asked if it could be jealousy due to the other horses getting more "love" than she has this year, I was scoffed at and told that "horses don't have that sort of reasoning." (Yet the woman who told me this has a horse with severe jealousy issues.) I asked this because, walking through the arena with the pony close at my side, my friend was at the arena door and started to speak. The pony looked at me, looked at my friend, looked back at me, and proceeded to pin her ears and try to chase the friend. My friend, who is an experienced horsewoman, knew better than to move and swung her arms and yelled at the pony, who them moved away and returned to my side.

That was a red flag; chasing horses away is one thing. But chasing people who I'm not even within touching distance of? And then today when she tried to kick me multiple times! I'm starting to feel like she's a lost cause and needs to "get lost," but I want to give her a much-needed chance to become that loving filly we bought a year ago. Not a malicious, deadly pony who hates all that come close.

What I find odd is, before she connected a kick, I was scratching and petting her without issue. Her ears were up and she enjoyed the attention. After I moved to check another horse for injuries, she stood grumpishly at my side and less than a minute later launched the "surprise attack." Maybe she sees me as her herdmate and is trying to best me? Being the pony she is, I dare not smack her; simply because I don't want to be "one of those people" to her, and because when you do smack her is when things escalate into severe danger.
     
    12-16-2010, 08:13 PM
  #4
Started
I think that some if it is jealousy, and some of it is that I think she's tired of being bullied by people and horses alike, so she wants that good attention you give her, but goes about asking for it the wrong way. I highly recommend reading books by Richard Maxwell. He's a trainer in England, and I started using his techniques with my Arabian mare, and she has done awesome. He has written Unlock Your Horses Talent In 20 Minutes a Day, and Train Your Young Horse, as well as a few others. He also has a website as well. Richard Maxwell - ABOUT MAX
     
    12-16-2010, 08:21 PM
  #5
Weanling
Thanks again! I'll definitely look into this and I appreciate your advice. I hope to do a lot of work with her this winter, both on her ground manners and under saddle. The woman who used to ride her had very loud, obnoxious hands (literally yanking on her reins) and I hope that softer, "more polite" hands will work with her as they did Creampuff (another mare I'm working with).
     
    12-16-2010, 10:02 PM
  #6
Started
I hope so. Keep me updated and pictures of said horses would be awesome :) I love seeing people's ponies in action.
     
    12-16-2010, 10:28 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by dressagebelle    
I hope so. Keep me updated and pictures of said horses would be awesome :) I love seeing people's ponies in action.
It'd be a pretty strange shift from being BEHIND the camera! Haha. First I need to buy a new one, since my brother got the one I was using (Canon Powershot A460, took some amazing pictures with it . . .) stolen. :/ The one I'm looking at now is $150 at a local pawn shop. XD

Hopefully I'll get some pictures of the pony and I so we can get some critique on the methods we're using, especially with body language. I could very well be sending her a mixed signal and not know it.
     
    12-23-2010, 08:13 AM
  #8
Foal
Have a read from Sylvia Scott Natural Horsemanship Training Sylvia Scott has a fair few pleas of help with vicious horses and I myself have used a few of them too with my qh yearling colt. She does a good job of explaining WHY they do it and HOW to fix it. Sometimes you think how on earth would that work? Even for me who is a Natural Horse Starter and problem re-trainer I was at whit's end with what to do when I brought Cloud home. His previous owner's now ex husband used to belt him over the face every single time he tried nipping which naturally only made him more sneaker and bite harder than before.... So much so that even with a close eye on him he still managed to sneak in a hard bite in very tender spots but I refused to hit him back knowing it makes most horses worse. I have dealt with a lot of problem horses from rearing striking tying up hoof trimming bolting etc but I hadnt come across one with so much intents to murder you sort of feel like my fella did.... So I looked it up online...... Sylvia went through the whole explanations of that its more so in a colts DNA (but also in every baby but comes across a stronger need in colts) to learn their games of tag which involve the rearing and biting as they are skills they themselves have to learn in the wild to protect their future heards from other stallions and predators. She advised another girl to send her horse away from her and wait for the Forgive me I'm sorry signs then ask them to come in.... Now I do that every single day with re training various things and imagine my surprise at how stupid I felt that I hadn't thought to do that with my little vicious baby!!!!!! I did and after just one day of doing that at his feed times even and he has not bit anyone since, he still attempts every so often with me testing to see if I will let him get away with it and everytime he tries he gets sent away again and tries again at a more elongated time. He has been so good I introduced him to our little cat and he sat there for 10 minutes just sniffing and behaving himself untill my cat started moving his legs lol then he thought they looked interesting enough to try to nibble... sent him away... let him come back in sniffed again and no attempts to bite! I am not saying this will work on every horse because I believe in changing my training for each and every individual horses needs. But it is worth a try. I do follow more of a Monty Roberts kind of style too..... Good luck and I hope she improves soon for you I know its hard seeing the differences though.
     
    12-27-2010, 12:52 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by StormvaleQHStud    
have a read from Sylvia Scott Natural Horsemanship Training Sylvia Scott has a fair few pleas of help with vicious horses and I myself have used a few of them too with my qh yearling colt. She does a good job of explaining WHY they do it and HOW to fix it. Sometimes you think how on earth would that work? Even for me who is a Natural Horse Starter and problem re-trainer I was at whit's end with what to do when I brought Cloud home. His previous owner's now ex husband used to belt him over the face every single time he tried nipping which naturally only made him more sneaker and bite harder than before.... So much so that even with a close eye on him he still managed to sneak in a hard bite in very tender spots but I refused to hit him back knowing it makes most horses worse. I have dealt with a lot of problem horses from rearing striking tying up hoof trimming bolting etc but I hadnt come across one with so much intents to murder you sort of feel like my fella did.... So I looked it up online...... Sylvia went through the whole explanations of that its more so in a colts DNA (but also in every baby but comes across a stronger need in colts) to learn their games of tag which involve the rearing and biting as they are skills they themselves have to learn in the wild to protect their future heards from other stallions and predators. She advised another girl to send her horse away from her and wait for the Forgive me I'm sorry signs then ask them to come in.... Now I do that every single day with re training various things and imagine my surprise at how stupid I felt that I hadn't thought to do that with my little vicious baby!!!!!! I did and after just one day of doing that at his feed times even and he has not bit anyone since, he still attempts every so often with me testing to see if I will let him get away with it and everytime he tries he gets sent away again and tries again at a more elongated time. He has been so good I introduced him to our little cat and he sat there for 10 minutes just sniffing and behaving himself untill my cat started moving his legs lol then he thought they looked interesting enough to try to nibble... sent him away... let him come back in sniffed again and no attempts to bite! I am not saying this will work on every horse because I believe in changing my training for each and every individual horses needs. But it is worth a try. I do follow more of a Monty Roberts kind of style too..... Good luck and I hope she improves soon for you I know its hard seeing the differences though.

Thanks, Stormvale!

In the past week or so, Pony (her real name is actually Socks) has been "touch and go." She has gotten better about ignoring people in the pasture and not trying to charge them, and even better with me; she has yet to approach me since the accident.

I also wouldn't suggest "hitting" anyone's horse. Then your horse isn't respectful, it's fearful. And, if it's like two of our horses (the pony and a gelding), they only get more upset and "vicious" after you hit them. I learned this when the gelding, who developed a kicking problem, would try to bite; I'd smack his neck and scold him (a quick and gruff "Knock it off!") only for him to turn his head away, pin his ears, and then come back for round two with more of a vengeance.

I don't know what's been happening to this horse. One minute she's seeking out one of my friend in the pasture (the one person she's tried to mutilate more than once), and then the next she's just standing there giving us tired, apathetic looks.

The vet speculated it was rank. She had been "bumped down" by another yearling filly not long ago, and the vet said she could be one of those horses who "just need the 'power' in the herd," and is trying to work her way back up -- starting with us. I've also noticed that Socks is now above the aforementioned filly yesterday while inspecting the herd. Perhaps the vet was right and she just wanted to be back in the "Top Hoss Band" (our little 'herd within the herd'). Though she isn't lead mare, she certainly hasn't been as bad.

Only time will tell and I'll keep everyone updated.
     
    12-27-2010, 02:09 PM
  #10
mls
Trained
Just how old is this equine? You say two and then yearling.

If the poor thing is indeed only two and spent the summer tied waiting for an appropriate person to ride her - she has a lot of reason to be naughty.
     

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