Out of control Colts
I'm caring for many horses at a barn. The trainer quit a couple of months ago. I have had experience with young horses before but only one at a time, and they were all pretty easy going.
We have two colts at the barn. They are about 10 months old. We haven't had much problem with them up until now. When they were weaned the colts were moved together and they have become very close. A few weeks ago we had to move them into the bigger barn where most of the horses are (there was 4 other horses with them in the small foaling barn). They each got a stall, side by side with wire fencing over the top half of the wood wall so they can still see each other.
They weren't used to being led very much until then, in the small barn, where they used to be, they had run out stalls. Now they have to be led out. We turn them out together in an outdoor ring, the rest of the pastures are electric fence, which they are not used to.
I expected a little adjustment. The bigger one, older by a few weeks, seems to have adjusted, but the smaller one, Casper, has steadily gone down hill and become increasing hard to handle. Before he was basically very quiet, the usual colt playfulness, but easy to work around.
He has started biting. He bit me so hard the other day he left a bruise on my arm and he constantly tries to bite as I put his halter on and lead him. He screams when the other colt is not next to him and rushes and jumps as he is being led. The owner suggested putting the chain over his nose, I hadn't until now because I don't like to with young horses (I'm afraid it will break their nose- which I heard from someone could happen). It helps a little, but only for a moment, it's like his mind is somewhere else.
I know this is probably just a bad adjustment and needs time, but he has also seemed to find out he is a male too, with a vengance. He tries to mount the other colt and herd him and they fight, sometimes playfully, sometimes agressively. I thought leading the two out together might help the younger one, but when I tried he stopped dead in his tracks and waited until his brother went by then tried to mount him. They were too hard to handle together.
When I lead them out seperately it has become a horror to try to get the second one in the ring because they start jumping on each other. I of couse yell at them and get them to back off which only lasts for a second.
Yesterday as I was putting the second colt in the ring they charged each other. Casper reared up on me coming very close to stricking me and I was pinned between them and the fence. It was a very scary moment. I smacked the other with the end of the lead and shanked the one I was holding to get him to stop. They both only stopped for a second and did it again.
I am totally fed up with this and don't want to end up under their hooves. I'm usually alone when they go out, so there isn't anyone to help. There isn't another wood paddock to seperate them into, and i'm not sure if seperating would help or make it worse anyway.
First of all, I would suggest you wear a helmet when you are working with them. Just because it sounds like they are quite exciteable.
I would also suggest a chain-but only if you know how to properly use one. Normally I'm very much against it, especially for younger horses, but it sounds like your safety is being compromised.
But understand that the chain is just there to reinforce. You need to work with the colts, they need to understand the principle that when you stop, he needs to stop as well. I'd also suggest on working with them in understanding what personal space is.
But, that being said, I hope you're getting paid for what you're doing. If not, I wouldn't waste my time, and I would have as little contact with them as possible.
The other thing I would suggest is seeing if you can turn them out in seperate pastures. They are obviously quite the terrible twosome, and it sounds like they might need a feisty mare to beat them around the head a bit ;)
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