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Doesn't Like Men?
So... I'm encountering a bit of an issue with my mustang colt lately. He won't allow the man who works at the boarding facility to catch him, or at least not very easily. I was hoping it would get better over time as he realized that this man was only going to lead him out to the fields in the morning and back to his grain in the afternoon (good things, right?).
I'm just wondering, does this mean he's not fond of any men... or is it something more personal? I've been the one working with my colt primarily, gentling him and training him to lead, pick up his feet, stand tied, yield haunches, etc. There aren't many men around to offer a counterpoint to the female interaction he's had... except the vet who gelded him, which I don't imagine was the most positive experience. He also stood much more willingly for a female farrier to work on him, whereas he wasn't so keen on giving a male farrier his feet. I thought it was more an issue of their training approaches than gender.
Finally, what do I do? My colt is an angel for me to catch. He'll even come to meet me at the gate. Unless I'm able to come out to get him back in though, he won't be able to be turned out.
If it's possible, get a guy to hang out with him. Just so he knows that men aren't evil! It's just like a horse not liking getting sprayed with water or something, you just gotta show them that it's not going to eat them!
I had a welsh/QH gelding and he was soooo scared of men. He hated them! It didn't matter who it was, but if it was a guy, he'd just start vibrating. We raised him from birth and he was hardly even swatted by a human his whole life! He just didn't like men.
Eolith, I'm sorry I can't be of much help here but I just thought I'd tell you how much I love your signature. And good luck with the situation, QHrider's response makes sense!
I would not jumpt to a gender aversion based only on this.
How socialized has your colt been? I would suggest making a point of exposing him to as many different people (not just gender, ages, people with disabilities, people in hats, etc) as possible and constructing these exposures as positive experiences (ie scratches, pats, treats, etc) Think of it as being similar to exposing him to different situations (cars, bicycles, dogs, crowds, noise, quiet, wind, still, etc) to help him become accustomed to them.
You're right themacpack, he's still needing more socialization overall. He will allow other women to catch him however (still not super easily, but far better). It's just difficult to get him exposed to men in particular, especially considering that I can't really expect the guy who works at the barn to put down the hundred other things he has to get done in order to hang out with my horse.
Do you have any male friends or family members who could spare a few minutes/hours with you at the barn? It doesn't have to be a grand production or training session, even the briefest positive association is better than none at all.
There may be a couple guys I can drag out to the barn, but I'm a little leery of bringing non horse savvy people out to play with my still partially feral horse. I guess if we keep it super simple it should be okay.
Just having them be present will help. Right now it seems that males are an oddity in his life and with horses the unfamiliar = scary. Your borrowed males don't have to be working him at all. You can have them just be visible and NOT do anything scary or, if you feel comfortable, have them interact in a positive way with the horse. The idea is simply to allow him to generalize "people" vs the person he knows/all those scary strangers that look different than this person.
I used a trainer (for couple months or so) both my horses and my friend's horses hated. And I mean that. My paint didn't allow her to come close, my qh tried to smack her with the tail every single time she got too close. Was it a smell? A voice? Her movements? To this time I have no idea. But the fact was there.
I also used to board in place where all horses neither liked nor respected the BO including her own horses (she was a nice person, took good care of the animals overall, etc.).
So my bet is on something inter-personal between your horse and that guy.
My gelding doesn't like most men. He loves my BO (who basically raised him from a weanling until I bought him at 2-years-old) and he tolerates my farrier, but probably only because I make him. Other than that, good luck getting him to let a man come even close to him. When the BO's older son cleans stalls (he'll sometimes sneak in and clean my stall, even though I only pay for partial care :-P), Aires will be on the other side of the stall from him and watching him like he would watch a predator. The BO's son has never even touched Aires, to my knowledge (and I've asked both the BO and his son about it). I tried once to have one of the male boarders "love" on Aires to get him used to men and realize that they aren't bad. What I ended up with was a 2yo dancing around me, trying to stay as far away from the man as his lead rope would allow.
We attribute it to the fact that women are MUCH more likely to come up to a horse and love on it and give it treats than men are. Sure, some men will, but most men are very business-like in their treatment of horses. Because of this, we've come to the conclusion that a lot of horses will associate women with good things (petting, treats, etc) and want to be around them more, whereas they associate men with "bad" things (not necessarily "bad," but not good...like work, maybe being poked with a rake for being in the way, etc) so aren't likely to want to be around them.
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