Any ideas on how to work this horse?
I've been a trainer for 10 years and this is the most aggressive mare I have ever come up against. I haven't had stallions that were this bad.
Here's her story- she's a 2 coming 3 year old Arab mare, has been kept in a paddock with other horses and does fine with them, but otherwise hasn't been handled since she was a weanling. She has very stallion-like behavior. She is very herdbound and will pace herself into a massive lather when stalled away from the rest of the horses. She rears, strikes, bites, kicks and will rush repeatedly. She is a spooky (spooks easily) mess to boot.
I have been working with her for a month and she has learned to lead, tie etc. She took a chunk out of the calf of the last trainer that worked with her. The first week we worked just on leading and space. She was very aggressive the first week. For the past 3 weeks she has been cooperative and willing, yesterday she had an aggressive outburst that was the worst I have seen. She didn't spin and try to kick me, but with a hairpin trigger will rush and strike and continue to do so. I haven't seen a horse in such a rage in a long time. I specialize in severe abuse cases and rescues, but she has no tell when she's snaps. I've never encountered a horse that doesn't portray in even the slightest way that there is about to be an attack.
I work with both of her siblings, (weanling and coming 2 year old) both of them are cooperative and have none of the same traits.
This is so not a helpful response but a sympathetic one. I saw this mare at an event and I thought she was a stallion from a distance because of how she was behaving and then I found out she was a mare. I thought well she must be in heat. Then when I started talking to the owner she had been spayed because her hormones were so crazy. The spaying they said mellowed her out about 15 percent. I couldn't imagine what she was like before. I don't know if you mares problems are lack of respect, or lack of confidence. I would say a mix of the two. She isn't very respectful or she wouldn't kick out but she must be doing it when she has lost her confidence. I don't know what to tell you but I would think that she needs to be brought up very slowly. We had a mare when I was a kid that was super mean and had these same types of outbursts. We took her with us to a clinic and learned that she was just really disrespectful. She is still not the horse I would just go out there and hop on but she is trustworthy enough that you know when she is going to explode. A trainer told me once that there is no such thing as "out of the blue". There are always warning signs even if you don't see them. I believe this is true. Although I have felt many times that certian things were "out of the blue" looking back there was always sometype of warning. With the exception of when my horse got stung on the lady town area by a bee. That was an "out of the blue" outburst.
When I first got my loan, he hadn't been handeled for a while, and I was almost biten nd kicked numerous times. Eventually she might get used to the attention. You could try using naturall remides to calm her down, or join up!
I totally get that it can't be actually out of the blue. I just couldn't pinpoint the trigger. I worded that improperly. I absolutely agree that it is a combination of a lack of respect and of a lack of confidence. I would equate her to the horse equivalent of a fear biter. All work is on a line right now, if you try to free work her she is a hot nervous mess, absolutely insecure.
I'm just looking for feedback- how would you handle a horse like this one?
First if you haven't already, I would get her thoroughly checked out, make sure that she doesn't have any infection, or other problems with her uterus, as well as any other possible pain. Then talk to the vet about possibly giving her some hormone shots to hopefully lessen the stallion like behavior. How many horses is she pastured with? If shes with a bigger group, I would if possible take out maybe 3 other horses that are calm, and middle of the herd in ranking, so she has fewer horses to deal with. I would look up David Lee Archer on youtube, he works with rescue horses, and problem horses as well, and he may have some better ideas of what to do. He helped me work out some of my horse's issues, and really made things click in a way that the horse understands as well. He also has written a book you might want to look at. I've worked with some aggressive horses, but nothing like what you are describing. Hopefully you can find that something that clicks that will help you work out her problems. Good luck.
As a trainer I would send her back to the owners and tell them you have done everything you can to help her. I don't keep horses around that are going to hurt me or tear up my equipment. I also don't want to put my reputation on a horse that very easily could seriously injure someone. I don't turn many horses away but I have turned away a few that have been dangerous.
I think they said she was spayed already, and that has improved the behavior slightly. A can appreciate that some people have so much patience with some animals....I am afraid I would not have as much, and if she is as dangerous as you are saying, I would have had her put down. I know I would never ever trusts her, and would not want her to hurt me or anyone else. If she is that herdbound, I would think it is only a matter of time before she starts going after anyone who comes into the pasture to get another horse....one of "her" horses. Sorry, but that would be my solution.
I applaud your dedication and patience with a horse that is truly testing your limits!
Although I can agree with the previous post indicating sending the horse back to the owners, specially due to the fact they are possibly spending money on something futile.
however, if that is not an option for you, after having her to the vet to ensure no other issues are occuring, I would probably lean toward helping build trust and confidence.
My suggestion would be to take a look at the amount of time you usually spend with her. Alot of horses need to know that eventually you will go away so to speak or relax. We sometimes get going with them cause they are having a good day....and don't realize we have pushed to far and then the "out of the blue" moment happens.
For example, the first ride may simply be get on, get off, thats it! The horse learns to trust the fact you will respect them and eventually release. Also by changing your patterns or amount of time spent every session, your horse may change its line of thinking from "how do I get out of this" to wondering "when will you release the pressure"
I hope that makes some sense, good luck and keep us posted
I want to second that you should look up David Lee Archer or try and contact him he's AMAZING. He worked with our mare that was just like the mare you have and he was great with her.
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Sometimes food can cause severe reactions and spookiness, has she had some sort of rhizome poisoning at some stage? Could she be severely deficient in some vital minerals? It is amazing how severe reactions to food toxicity can be. The other thing that I would wonder is what her breeding is like, could she be mentally impaired from severe in-breeding? I have read in different sources that overly close in-breeding can result in horses that are, quite frankly completely insane. All I can do is hope it goes well for you and please don't put this horses well being before your own safety. Good luck!
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