12 yr old adopted mare bites and corrals
I rescued a 12 year old mare from the slaughterhouse and dont know much about her history. She is my first horse. She finally trusts me enough to come running for a carrot or apple and to let me groom her. However, and perhaps I am reading her behavior incorrectly, if I do not have sufficient carrots (she likes 4 to 6 at a time at least) she will corral me when I walk back to the house. this has happened when I ran out of carrots or apples and only had one. She runs ahead of me and then blocks me with her body. When I did not respond and walked around her, she tried to bite me. Is there a way to curb aggression... yes I read I should frighten her. I waved my arms and shouted, she stepped back for a second and then blocked me again. As for the bite, she didnt actually bite because I backed away but she sure seemed like she was going to. She reached for my arm with open mouth and teeth showing. Thanks in advance.
1. Don't hand feed her.
2. Get a trainer ASAP and have them teach you and your horse all about ground manners / discipline.
no trainers, no budget
thanks Edith. I do not have the budget for trainers and there are none in this part of the country. Does anyone have any other advice that could help?
I'm sorry to say this, but if this is your first horse and you don't even know how to deal with this very common behavior, you need to sell this horse FAST before you are hurt badly or worse.
If she is threatening to bite, any advice we give about correcting it will just cause her to kick you instead. Stopping crowding and biting requires you to be able to judge her movements and know when to reprimand her with a swift and hard swat with a whip long enough to be out of range of her kicks.
Do you have anyone who has or at least knows how to handle horses who can help you? If it's just you and her, please, please sell her. There was a reason she was at the slaughter yard, my bet is because of her behavior.
I'm so sorry to see you in this situation with your first horse. :-(
Take a dressage whip or stout stick that is at least 4' long. No more treats for now unless in her pan. When you work with her and she crowds you deliver a good whack on her neck which will turn her away but watch out in case she kicks out at you. A tap doesn't count. If she invaded another horse's space she would likely be bitten on the neck or booted in the ribs, so make it count. When she has moved away, turn your whip downward so it's not continually threatening her. Now that you have that established you will have to be consistant in not letting her into your space a distance of about 6 ft from you. You can enter her space. A mistake you made, and likely the safest, was instead of making her move out of your space, you allowed her to move you out of her space. Try to never move away from her. The way to do it is to move so you (your body) is facing her shoulder (your shoulders parallel to her body),backing away a few steps then turning and leaving. In time that will become a signal to her that you are done with her and it's a safe way to depart. So for now always carry the whip. Most horses like to have someone take a leadership role. I'm not keen on the idea that my horse tells me how we will do things and I don't think you do either. Good luck and stay safe.
I'm also hesitant to offer advice because, as already pointed out, she might act out even more at first. I would say stop giving her treats, and don't bring her oats, either. You'll still have a problem, but giving her more treats will only make it worse.
If you could watch horses loose in the pasture, you'll start to get an idea of how they work out the pecking order. The top horse controls the other horses' movements, especially if there is food involved. The top horse will reinforce its status with a bite or kick if needed. This is what the mare is doing to you (and you were right to suspect she was going to bite you).
I would also recommend finding someone who has lots of experience help you. Is there a horse rescue place in your area that could help you with this?
I agree with the above posters. This mare is testing you and currently you are failing the test. The idea that she bites you because you don't have enough carrots or treats is not an excuse. Horses don't keep score like that. They are not spoiled children who say "My brother got 2 treats and I got 1 so you should give me more". Horses can't count, its not that you did not bring enough treats its that you ran out of treats. She is body blocking and biting because she has you trained and you are no longer giving her what she wants. She is approaching you not because she trusts you but because you have something she wants. When you no longer have what she wants she has no need for you. I don't mean to be rude or hurt your feelings. I just think that you are ascribing personality and thought patterns to your horse that she may not have.
If a trainer is not in the budget are some riding lessons? It might benefit you to have some experience with normal, equine behavior before you try to fix abnormal/undesired behavior. If thats not possible and you want to DIY this than good luck. You need to be firmer with her and what she does when you discipline her may scare you. I can see you getting hurt either way. If you don't correct her she will hurt you but I can see you getting hurt (based on what you said here) if you do correct her. Which is why I think its time to consider rehoming her and taking some lessons or finding a good, been there done that - got the t shirt horse to learn on.
watch as many videos as you can. She needs to learn you are the boss and not her. if she is in your way, she moves, not you. And if she bites or is getting to aggresive, smack under the chin and get her moving. beware she may not give up easy and may fight for her status. Keep a whip or crop handy and use it if you ever feel in danger. Hopefuly, she will learn some manners. She needs to get to know you and vise versa. back her up , out of your space. She will learn.
Frankly, for your own safety, you need to get rid of this horse. I realize that it sounds harsh, but her behavior is beyond anything you are capable of handling on your own and I won't offer any suggestions for the simple reason that most of the corrections for that behavior are dangerous themselves and risk getting you seriously hurt if you don't know what to expect. You've already said you can't afford a trainer, so I doubt you can afford hospital bills for when she hurts you badly.....and she will, it's just a matter of time.
thank you all for your imput. Now I see that she is crowding and trying to assume the leadership role. Apparently there was a vacuum. :-) I was so eager to give her some good treatment after what she had been through, that I wasnt assertive enough. For those who offered practical advice, I will start using the methods you described. Thanks for the movement Saddlebags, I instinctively moved away from her in that way. Going to need a stick or whip I see. LisaG, no horse rescue, am in the country in southern Chile, 5 hours from a big city. Rookie, yes I am guilty of anthropomorphism, thanks. I did not buy her to ride her, only to give her the freedom to be a horse in a nice environment and live out her years without being ridden or used to pull wagons etc. And to have a colt. She was mated last month. Thanks Spotted.
If I give up on her, it is a trip to the slaughterhouse. I have no intention of giving up. Will keep you all posted. If you dont here from me, I wasnt fast enough in moving away or firm enough. But I will be back. :-)
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