Kick-threat and food aggression TB
Ezreal my 6y.O TB is aggressive come food time and has a tendancy to kick-out at the lunge whip whilst lunging.
Firstly when lunging Ezreal I do my best to follow a Clinton Anderson-type technique. I have two troubles, firstly if Ezreal does not respond to the point and click I follow up by whipping the air, if he does not respond to that I tap his butt - the point and click and whipping the air usually get the result but if I have to tap his butt he kicks out at the lunge whip - I usually respond to this by getting him to run.
A couple of times he has been so "on-edge" that if I even lift the lunge whip up to send him out on the circle he lifts his head and does a lil freak-out dance raising his front feet and pushing into my space. If I take the lunge-whip out of the equation I can get him to walk around me, by just doing everything with calm request - However I prefer to have the lunge-whip as a tool because once Ezreal is on the edge of the lunge-line I won't be able to follow-through if I can't reach him. I also try to desensitise him to the whip noises and around him.
TL;DR Ezreal kicks out at the lunge-whip when it taps his butt.
Secondly - the food aggression, I have two horses so most of the ear pinning, jogging around and kicking is directed at my other horse. However he does approach us with ears pinned and tries to push in to get the food. I have just been working on getting a really firm "back" which I use to get him out of my space and I don't set his food down until he stands back and relaxes a bit.
However, sometimes when I get him to back or get out of my space, he spins around his butt to me, he doesn't threaten to kick; more like frustration of being told to get lost. However If i then approach his butt to send him off he threatens the kick. So i'm not sure how to not "back-away" and pressure him away, without getting kicked. When he has threatened to kick me, he is just about already running away since he knows it will get a negative response from me.
TL;DR If he turns and threatens the kick, I don't want to be behind him trying to smack his butt - how can I get-after-him without getting a running kick-out.
How would you deal with his Ezreal's food aggression
With food time I would separate the horses so they dont feel threatened by each others prescence and take a lunge whip/schooling whip with you. Do not tollerate Ezreal pointing his butt at you at all, even if he isn't threatening to kick. Its lshowing lack of respect. This is where the whip comes in. If he tries to get within the length of the whip around food, he gets sent away with the whip. If he turns his butt use the whip just off his butt and hit the ground with it to send him all the way away. If he tries to back and kick, move smartly out the way, yell/'tsch!'/'no!' at him and 'kick' him back with the whip. A dominant horse would never be kicked/threatened to be and not return the favour!
On the lunge, make sure the trouble with the whip isn't sourced from fear. Fear and respect are similar, but not the same. If he respects the whip but doesnt fear it you should be able to stroke him with it while standing at his shoulder. If he fears it, he wont let you get anywhere near him with it, and when a horse is scared, then he'll kick at it.
I got a nasty kick off alli very early in her training because she aimed a kick at the whip and got my arm. This was from confusion leading to fustration and fear, though, so make sure Ezreal understands the whip commands. Point at butt=forward, shoulder=out, flick='listen', crack='oi! get-ur-ass-in-gear-and-do-what I-say!!' If you think he doesnt understand, ask a friend to stay at his head and guide him untill he gets it. A leader also has a calming influence on him so he'll think straighter and hopefully behave!
the only rule is that YOU decide when he gets to eat, and the only thing he can do to influence your decision is to wait patiently a fair & safe distance away. untill then you can't allow him to have his food.
also i <3 TL;DR summaries.
In general most horses that are overprotective with food are lower down in the established pecking order - NOT ALWAYS - Excepting the air we breath and water, food is the most important survival thing for all mammals. My 4 horses are all out in the paddocks at present, I keep them in 2's on at least 2 acres and there is plenty of grass so they are all happy buddies but in the winter when I have to put hay out then the alpha in each group will claim the pile she wants, there is no aggression or running around they know who's the boss and the passive horse just walks away to the other pile. I never go in the field with them to put hay out, its there waiting for them or thrown from the fence, they come galloping over and it would be too easy to get in the middle of somewhere I'd rather not be. Thats not cowardice on my part, its common sense.
A lot of the overprotective with food problems are caused by the way we keep them, horses on small dirt paddocks with little space to get away from each other are more likely to have a problem than those kept singly or on large areas with more acreage per horse. If your horse is a TB then chances are he's not used to being fed out on a paddock with other horses, I never give what I call bucket feed to any of my horses anywhere other than in their stable, if I didn't have a stable then I would feed each horse individually on a yard, tied up at safe distances from each other or if its just one horse then you can hold it while it eats, taking buckets of feed into a small area full of horses is just asking for trouble and though flapping or even whipping a passive horse away will probably work it will cause a defensive horse to be more aggressive or turn a hungry passive horse into a defensive one. Food = Survival and survival is a strong instinct in all of us. You can think like a horse but you can't behave like one, they are bigger, stronger, faster, kick & bite a lot harder and if they are already showing signs of being disrespectful they won't lose any sleep at night if they hurt you. If my husband starts taking fries off my plate I'll be pretty annoyed with him.
Try breaking the habit by taking your horse out of the paddock to feed him and hold the bucket while he eats and then move to holding him while he eats from the bucket on the floor, he has to see you as the giver of the food and not the taker.
I have one mare who I've had for 18 years since she was 3, she's really greedy and get so excited at feed times that her impatience drives her to pull the meanest faces, dance around and swish her tail but she doesn't have a nasty bone in her body, its all bluff. She moves over when I tell her too and though I never usually mess with my horses when they're eating (God help anyone who messed with me at mealtimes) if I wanted too I could change her rugs, bandage her legs or whatever else I felt like. She trusts me, she knows I'm fair to her but if I'd maybe retaliated at the start by whipping her things could have gone very differently.
As for the lungeing. First off you are not Clinton Anderson, he is cool, calm and knows exactly where to place himself to keep out of danger. TB's are smart and they can know how to intimidate anyone they think is just a little bit cautious. Why are you lungeing him? Is he unbroken? If he's a rideable horse then maybe concentrate on that for a while while you get to know each other better. Maybe he's been abused with a whip so is being defensive against it, if he lunges without one then why not just have it lying by your feet 'just in case' and use your outstretched arm as a focus for him, the aim is to have him eventually move to verbal command without using the whip as an aid.
At present it sounds as if he's just 'trying it on' to establish who's the boss - that has to be you so he does have to learn to respect, trust, rely on and care for you. Only give treats as a reward for good behaviour. In the old days they called it 'stick and carrot' and it worked.
At the end of the day having a horse is supposed to be fun and if you're not really enjoying him that it might be the time to consider trading him in for something that isn't going to challenge you at every turn. Failure isn't giving up, its not knowing when to say its time to quit, success is when you move on to something that makes you smile
I agree with OBA on the food aggression part. Until you say its his food, its your food and he doesn't get to be anywhere near it til you say so. Hmph.
As for the lunging, try using a long lead or thick rope instead of a whip. My anne in the begining would see a lunge whip and go stark raving mad, racing around til she was dripping and huffing and I couldn't do a thing with her. I switched to free lungeing and using the end of her lunge line to encourage her. I flick it at her flanks when she gets slow,And if she stays slow, I move my position towards her to put more "pressure" on. When your horse does his little "dance" into your space, bend at the waist a little and walk directly at his shoulder. Make sure to stay out of kick range, but make it clear your chasing him out of "your area". Throwing out the rope while you do this will help reinforce your intent, and the point of the rope. I hold my hand with the rope in it up, at a ninety degree (until it gets tired and sags lol)angled off her back hip when I want her to stay steady, and drop the rope to my side so there's no pressure at all when I want her to slow down. All of this in combination with verbal commands has really helped her calm down.
When she does get antsy, or turn to kick out, she gets a smart slap on the butt with the end of the rope and must run for at least two laps. Then its a canter to trot transition and back to whatever I wanted in the first place. The more your horse offers to kick, the more work he's going to have to do, and eventually he will see that doing the work saves his behind, and he gets done faster. This method is also currently working for an ottb who shys away from even a stick on the ground. If its long and straight he's terrified, but he works nicely with just rope. Good luck :)
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