Colt and Mare are buddy sour
Our mare is 11 and her colt (gelding) is now 5. They are boarded each winter at a wonderful horse ranch. The head of this ranch always separates our mare from her colt (she goes to an area about 1/4 mile away from him/colt). He found it necessary to separate them so he could train our colt. All goes very well. That is, until they come home. I do not have the space to separate them with such distance. They are fine horses, but we are having "buddy sour" comments from their farrier and their veterinarian. Also, and more critical - the colt took a nip at my elbow creating a huge bruise and broken skin (through my shirt no less). I was putting grain into his trough - so nothing should have precipitated this behavior (I was stunned to say the least).
I walk them down to an additional pasture and they walk along in a very well-behaved manner. When our colt first comes back from boarding his behavior is perfect - it is after a few weeks that he starts the nipping. My brother in law was here for a visit and was holding their 19 month old grandson up to see the horses. I cautioned them not to get close to the colt (or mare for that matter) - sure enough, I saw the colt try to nip at the little one. I did not want to make a big issue of it, but I have it my head that no one is safe around this colt. I still handle him with a degree of confidence, but I clearly have very little faith in him after he nipped my elbow. Our mare is very easy going and not difficult, but when the farrier or vet are here she acts like she's trying to protect her colt? I take one or the other out of the barn and turn into a small pasture right next to the barn - they carry on as if they're crazy.
Can this be fixed? I am wondering if the only real solution is to sell the colt. He is very smart and his behavior is as it should be when he's not around his mom. Our vet said he thought the mare would be fine as an "only horse." I sure would like to solve the problem without taking such a drastic step. Taking a whack at him when he nips has been offered as a reaction to the nipping, but there has to be some other way? How will this solve the "buddy sour" problem?
If anyone can relate to these issues and has a suggestion, please do reply!
The colt has you sussed - he is way above you in the pecking order and your attitude of being reluctant to punish him for biting tells this.
Had he not stood away from his food area if I was feeding him then he would have been made to stand back. Had he pushed forward in a bossy manner I would have hurriedly given him his feed - still in the bucket but wrapped around his head in no uncertain manner He for certain would have jumped back and I would have still been after him, arms waving and making him run backwards around the stall until he was hanging from the ceiling biting his hoofs. He would think he was going to die BUT the only time he would have been whacked would be the initial wallop with the feed bucket.
Any punishment should be instant, the moment he snakes his head around or even threatens with his ears back earns an open handed slap across the muzzle which will sting but do not damage. He would know exactly what it is for.
As for the two being joined at the hip, this is difficult and more so because of them being mother and son. The fact that he has no respect for you exacerbates the situation.
If you want to keep both then you need to get a heck of a lot tougher. WHen either starts being stupid because they are not together you need to get tough and make them think that unless they are paying attention to you then you will make them die.
It has to be tough, it has to be consistent and it has to be fair.
Well, this is an easy fix: you aren't the boss. Sorry. Your horses don't respect you. The reason they behave until a few weeks after they come home from the trainer is because the trainer has taught them how to behave. If they test him, he quickly corrects him. So they behave for him.
Your horses test you as well. When they find that you aren't equipped to handle them, they have a field day and walk all over you.
Next time the gelding tries to nip at you, elbow him as hard in the face as you can. No, it will not make him headshy. No, it will not hurt him. The only thing it will hurt is possibly your elbow. You really shouldn't mess around with a young horse. They will constantly test you and if you can't correct them, they'll become little terrors who think they can do whatever they'd like.
As for when you were putting grain into the trough and he "bit you out of no where!", well, um, he wanted the freaking grain and you were in his way. So he bit you. And you moved. And he got his grain. Yeay for him.
Have you ever watched horses interact? When one horse bites another, it more often than not ends with the other horse spinning around and kicking the first horse. Do you understand how much force was applied to that kick? And the horse usually receives no injury from that. So how is your hand going to injure the horse? People think it's so drastic and 'mean'... but guess what? That's how horses talk. It's how they communicate. It's how they live. You want to keep speaking English to them? Go right on ahead. They could care less.
Thank you for your help. I will be more watchful for even the slightest indication of rudeness/disrespect from the colt. I never want him to nip me or anyone else. As far as their buddy sour behavior - I am going to put the mare in the side pasture without him. He's going to carry on, but just maybe he'll get over some of his anxiety? It is worth the effort. Last year I let our mare in the apple orchard (good clover and grass in the rows) - the colt went in initially, but was too eager to scratch himself on the trees. I whacked him on the rump. When he did it again - I took him out. Our mare just ignored his calling her with his sad whinnies - and grazed away. I guess she wanted the clover more than she wanted to comfort him. Did he learn anything? I will keep trying!
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