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swamp shuck 01-13-2009 11:57 AM

A question about horse behavior?
Hello, I'm new to this forum and I thought I would jump right in and ask a question. A little background:

I am by no means a horse expert. I live on a farm and have a few horses that have basically been dumped. I have 3 pasture pet horses, 2 riding horses, 1 driving/riding horse and a less than a year old that looks like a Belgium that was just tied to the mailbox post a couple weeks ago. One of my riding horses is a seven year old quarter horse that was trained as a cutter. The people who had him thought he was mean though and I took him because they said they were going to put him down. He's not mean, in fact with his herd he's quite protective. That's the horse I'm going to ask about.

Now my large barn (I have several small barns and sheds) is where my horses stay. I have a few stubborn chickens that would rather stay with the horses than the other chickens and I don't fight them too much as long as they are inside and safe from predators. I have a baby monitor set up in the barn so that I can see and hear what goes on out there when I'm in the house. The large barn is shut up at night in the winter except for one stall that is left open for my quarter horse and his buddy. The two of them don't do well locked up and so I let them come and go as long as the weather doesn't get to cold. Okay, that's the barn.

Last Saturday, when the moon was so bright, I did chores a little later than usual. I was out in the barns until about 8:30pm, then I do one last round before I go to bed. I went back in the house and was feeding the dogs at about 9:00pm when I heard a horrible rucus happening on the barn monitor. I looked at the monitor and I could see a fox running down the center isle after a chicken. I quick grabbed my walking stick and a coat and ran out there.

By the time I got out to the barns my quarter horse was not in the pasture he was suppose to be in. He had bent in half the large round pen panel that was seperating his pasture from the lane to the other pasture. The panel looked like a giant had just twisted it in his hands. He was unhurt (thank goodness) and was not scared or even wound up. He let me lead him back into his pasture and played with my hair as I tried to straighten the panel by hand. It took me getting out the tractor and rigging up a pulley to straighten the panel.

When I went out the next day the tracks in the snow showed the fox ran out of the barn with what looked like my quarter horse in hot pursuit. The fox ran under the panel exactly where my quarter horse crashed through it. You can see where my quarter horse chased the fox actually up a tree at the edge of the back pasture. After asking everyone I know if they had ever heard of a horse going to extrodinary measures to chase down an animal I was told that no one I know had ever heard of that.

So my question, after this very long first post is; has anyone here ever heard of a horse that was willing to hurt itself to chase an animal out of their territory? My boy has never even pushed against a fence and this was a big steel round fence panel that he just destroyed. I didn't actually see him chasing the fox though I have seen him herding animals with that cutter training of his. I just have never heard of a horse going all crazy like that.

He's a good boy and I am so, so happy he didn't get hurt because if one of those steel bars had snapped it could have speared and killed him. He walked away without even being stiff or sore. I just need to know if anyone has every hear of this or seen this and what anyone would recommend to make certain the big dufus (said affectionately) doesn't get himself hurt while he's trying to keep his herd safe.

Thanks so much for listening.


3neighs 01-13-2009 12:30 PM

Wow, he really wanted that fox out! We've witnessed our pony chase coyotes out of the pasture before when they were lurking around our goat pen, but not so aggressively that he'd go through a fence or gate. I guess I don't really have any advice for you. Maybe after that experience he's taught himself not to go through such lengths again! :lol:

BTW, welcome to the forum!

whitetrashwarmblood 01-13-2009 05:36 PM

Well I've heard of horses doing things like that. Usually stallions or stallions that were gelded at an older age, but that doesn't mean a mare wouldn't do something like that to ESPECIALLY if she has a foal.
Anyway, I'm not sure how you could keep your gelding from chasing unwanted animals, but maybe you could set up humane traps for foxes, raccoons, etc. That way it would keep both animals safe. :-)

mlkarel2010 01-13-2009 07:58 PM

I knew mules have a strong dislike toward small animals, but it isn't as strong in horses. Some horses dislike small animals though. But their instincts cause them to do that. Wolves and coyotes would hunt horses, so dogs and foxes aren't much different. Do you have dogs? You can condition him to accept small animals, but a familiar one he could easily get used to, but that doesn't mean he will treat an unfamiliar one the same way.

PaintHorseMares 01-13-2009 10:01 PM

One of our Paint mares will pin her ears and run off dogs IF they start barking at her, otherwise she's more than happy to touch noses with them, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a horse run off a small animal.

booner 01-13-2009 11:02 PM

Wow what a wonderful herd leader he is! More power to him and maybe that fox was lucky but if it were my chickens he was after I'd say let that horse stomp them to death!!! Hopefully for the foxs sake he wont be back and he'll tell his friends not to bother.
Hope he doesnt get hurt though.Good Luck...

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