My horse is being picked on..... is this really normal behaviour?
Ok I realize horses have a hierarchy and they do bite andkick each other, but how much is too much? I have had my horse (first horse) for five months and he has been in the same field with the same pasture mates for 5 months. He is a gelding and only 4, the youngest in the field. There are four other gelding sand two mares ranging in age from 8-28. I took his winter blanket off three weeks ago and he is now covered inhorse bites. Not just missing hair patches, but big bloody ones too. His blanket must have been helping to protect him as it was shredded with rips.
I talked to the barn owner on the weekend and she said heis at the bottom and it is just normal behaviour. Are bloody bites the size of my hand normal? I’m quite worried and feel so bad for him.
The field is big enough but since there isn’t any grass yet they all hang around the feeder. Just this past weekend a second feeder was added, and another mare and another filly will be added to the herd soon. There isn’t another field/paddock to put him in.
Is there anything I can do to help him? Put a blanket/rug on him? Any that will not shred with the constant biting? Can I coat his hair in pepper oroil to keep them away from him? Is this behaviour really normal? I would have thought after 5 months they would have settled down andworked things out but with new horses I’m afraid the situation will get worse.
I am willing to find a new place for him, however he is currently 5 minutes away from my house and board is very reasonable. Moving would be an extra $75-150/mo and 20-40min away (+ gas expense). Worth it if he will be safe.
On a side note – he has also been kicked in the head resulting in 3 vet visits. Although the vet assured me this is a common injury in horses, I don’t feel any better about it.
BTW I love this site!! You guys are so helpful!!
My horse is on the end of the dominance line, so he gets all the bites. But The worst he has gotten is a little bite that bled for two days, but then nothing else happened. If it got worse with my horse, I would try to separate them, but otherwise I am no expert on this.
Yes, it is normal behavior, but I am pretty sure it wouldn't be that bad.
I would try some more blankets and stuff. It might help and it might not. My horses are boarded 20 minutes away from where I live and it is the best place around, so I won't be moving my horses for some time....hopefully.
And just to say, I have never heard of a horse getting kicked in the head to be normal behavior or something. It might be true, but I have never heard of it.
But yea, I would try some blankets if it won't stop and if you can't seperate them.
You say this person is a boarder? WHy doesn't he/she have other pastures??
As far as I see it, horses kick and bite each other. My gelding would get bullied by his own shadow - unless I want to keep him alone he is going to get picked on. It's just a fact of life for them when they are turned out in a group setting.
Welcome to the forum:-)
Some arguments over feed, pecking order or mares is normal, and to be expected. Five months is not normal.
You say there are 4 other geldings...could be they're arguing about the mares.
Don't know what type of hayfeeder is used, but one for 7 and no other source of hay might be the reason for it.
Could be there is a particularly dominant horse in the herd, or your gelding wont accept his current position.
And it will get worse for some time once the other mare and filly arrive.
Does he have a best friend? If so, would it be possible to separate him and his friend from the herd?
If not, I would move my horse. A little arguing and even fighting is normal, but not to the extend you describe, for such a long time.
I agree with everything "deserthorsewoman" said but, I can put yet another spin the situation:
I have 22 acres, more than enough space for four horses.
Third in the pecking order is nothing but a bully - he's been with me 16+ years and I can't tell you how many times I've come close to giving that agitating SOB a lead earring.
He has deviled both the Lead and Second-in-command horse when they have been sick.
He devils the begeezus out of the 4th in order horse and will pin that horse in a skinny minute and either bite or kick him, if he can get away with it.
I even went to the time and expense to open up a section below the paddock and put a second gate at the bottom end, so horse #4 could get away from the Bully.
Horse #4 absolutely is not a fighter - in the 6+ years he's been here, he has never shown one inth of a moment of agression or challenge against another horse.
^^^^that may be your horse.
So the BO kindly put in a second hay feeder and is bringing in another mare and filly? Sweet -- sounds like the main focus here is $$$$.
It appears the other horses are using your horse for a whipping post. Survival of the Fittest is still in the modern-day gene pool and they will have no conscience about beating him down until he can't stand up for himself.
Pretty soon your horse may start losing weight because they won't let him near the feeder - they will intentionally starve him out - I helped get a mare in that kind of situation. I took the videos.
You also run the risk of the horse developing ulcers from the stress of never knowing when he's going to get slammed. I doubt he even has the opportunity to lay down and rest.
If my Bully horse feels the need, he will charge my #4 horse when that horse is lying down to enjoy a good roll. Unless, I'm close on the 4-wheeler to give him some of his own medicine with the buggy whip.
I know it's more money and a further drive but given three kicks to the head, and big pieces of missing flesh, I would get my horse "the flock out of there" five minutes ago. JMHO:-)
You need to move this horse. BO does not care about if he is going to get hurt, and he can't call you and tell you he is going hungry or getting hurt.
At this point? You KNOW this is happening and if you do nothing about it and protect him? It is your fault, no one else's.
There are some horses which are perpetual whipping boys, yours may be one of them, but eventually they will either run him through a fence or corner him and hurt him so badly you will have to put him down.
I am having to make this decision on Kola, and he was only cornered once, but it has ruined his near fore to point I am considering having him PTS soon. He can't move good, and lays down quite a bit now.
He was arthritic this time last year. Close to 20, but would still trot some. Now he is damaged beyond help. Due to long story which won't go into? 5 other horses got into his area/stall and ran him through a wooden cattle chute, and into hay area. Only reason they didn't kill him is they couldn't get to him.
Would they have? Without a doubt.
Kola has never in his life hurt anyone, not offered to bite, kick, buck, nothing. And then for this to happen to him just breaks my heart. I've had him since '99 I think, but most of his life, and now I'm trying to make decision to kill him.
I moved him to vet for week on the Sunday it happened. The next day? I walked 80 acre pasture to catch up Baby Huey, Bonanza met me quickly when went out there, oddly enough.
Had he not gotten kicked and bitten and attacked? Kola would be easily looking at another 10 years of life. He will be lucky to last 10 more days, as I can't stand to see him like this any longer.
And I had NO IDEA this was going to happen either. He had his own 2 acre area, and 10x20 stall. No way other horses would be able to have hurt him, except 2 people screwed up and let it happen.
Horses will always have a pecking order and there will usually be a bully and a victim type but when the bullying becomes bad enough to damage blankets (they aren't that cheap to keep repairing and replacing) and the bites and kicks involve vets bills or a horse being constantly off work or badly blemished then its probably time to draw a line under things and look for some other way to keep your horse.
A normal 'alpha' type establishes itself with no more than a dirty look and maybe a threat and a bit of a scuffle and then its all over with but these bully horses just never give up and go out of their way to inflict injury on others so are usually better off separated.
I had to have a lovely horse shot after its back leg was completely shattered by a 13.2 bully pony so its made me very cautious of horses that are overly aggressive towards others.
Here are pictures of him after being attacked. The only place he didn't have marks? His ears. There was not one place on him that had not been bitten, kicked, scraped or hurt.
The September before, 2011, I had had x-rays done of bad knee, and vet said only arthritis, and could bute if wanted to ride him some.
X-rays taken Sept 2012...showed upper joint capsule damaged beyond any hope. He's had cortisone shots, 2 so far, in on joint supplements, and have tried to keep him trimmed.
To address the being kicked in the head part...yes, it happens in normal herd dynamics. My gelding is a 4yo 16.1hh draft cross. My new BO put him out with four other geldings for turnout after getting my permission. Aires is like everyone's kid brother, so why not? I went to pay my board last month and we were chatting about how Aires was doing with the other geldings. Turns out that he's the natural leader. Problem is, he doesn't really want to be. But, he has always been good at herd dynamics, so he has become the leader. So, when one of the BO's geldings got a little too pushy, he put the gelding in his place with a sound kick...that happened to land on the gelding's jaw. Luckily the other gelding wasn't hurt (vet checked him over when he was there taking care of another horse), but he could have easily been hurt by Aires dinner plate-sized hooves. Point being, even unintentionally, horses kick each other in the head.
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I can't get the pictures to load right on here.
At any rate, Kola is paying the price for the bullying of the other horses.
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