Sudden Behavioral Change
I have a 16 month old Miniature gelding named Koda. He is being boarded for the first time and has been there only 9 days so far. He shares a pasture with a 27 year old Shetland Pony gelding who is owned by the barn manager. The Shetland, Hammer, steals Koda's food and runs him around occasionally but generally they seem to tolerate each other. They exchange pinned ears and kicks but Koda steers clear of Hammer for the most part.
There is a noticeable change in Koda's behavior for the worst since he came to the ranch one week ago. He is acting liked a complete spoiled brat. He rears, bites, and is pushy while leading. I do not tolerate this and I am very stern with him - harsh voice, no shying away from him, slap on the shoulder, etc. I don't let him get away with things just because he's small and cute.
Could it be that he is "frustrated" at being suddenly moved to a new place with a mean pony that bosses him and steals his food? Is he taking it out on me? He was gelded in May and his behavior was steadily getting better, now he's a total brat all of a sudden and it's really annoying and embarrassing. Should I continue to just be stern with him and not put up with his foolishness, and hope he'll settle down to his new life soon?
(Side note - he is not all bad! This morning, though he did have some extreme bratty moments, he did load into his trailer with no refusal or fuss at all (lots of praise for that), and then while I was picking out one of his hooves, he unexpectedly just laid down on the ground, rolled over, and stood back up (no idea, lol). The other day, I gave him his breakfast and then I sat under a tree and read a book, when he was done he walked over to me, laid down, sprawled out, and napped beside me for an hour. I think he is just a bratty little yearling who has his moments.)
The picture is him sleeping beside me in the shade the other day. :-)
He most likely is stressed. He may also be figuring out that kicks, bites, and pushiness have the possibility of getting him what he wants (i.e; if he kicks the old gelding when he is trying to steal food, said gelding will go way) and he is attempting this same theory with you. Horses, especially young colts- tend to be very keen on what does and doesn't work. I'd say just keep on doing what you're doing. Carry a small crop or stick with you. If he pushes you, give him a good whack on the shoulder and make him stay atleast a foot away from you when walking. If he tries to nip you, slap his muzzle or his jaw hard enough to sting. If he tries to kick- well- tolerate that one even less. A kick should earn a HARD smack on the butt, and being chased away for a few minutes before YOU decide that he's allowed to come back. He'll eventually get the idea. Agression might work with the gelding, but it's going to be reciprocated by you.
I had to deal with this a year or so back with Sour. 1-2 year olds really seem to think they're 'high and mighty' at that age, and taking them down a notch is always a good idea.
Good luck to you, and he really is a cute little guy.
Thank you for the prompt reply! What you said really makes sense about him realizing if he can act like that with the gelding then he can act like that with me. I will continue to not put up with his attitude and will be sure to give him praise and scratches when he is leading well and acting like he should. Thanks again Endiku!
I don't think I'd be wanting to hit a youngster, expecially a mini. Light taps on the legs will get him backing away from you. Give him about 3' of lead so he can walk his own path parallel to you. Teach him to move his hindquarters away from you and backing up. If he tries to bite hold your fist out and let him run into it. As you lead him move your right fist up and down just out of the blue to keep his thoughts elsewhere. With a horse, flapping the elbows keeps the horse at a respectful distance.
dispite their small stature, a miniature horse should never be treated differently from a full sized horses. When I say 'hit', I did not mean 'beat him in until he's crying in pain,' as I'm sure OP knows. However, if the colt kicks- a good, firm smack and being sent a way are crutial. Just because their hooves are only 4-5 inches long does not mean they can't break something. Just a few weeks ago I had a 27 inch mare nail me in the hips, and I limped for days/had some NASTY bruises up my leg. This colt, while young, must learn his place in the 'herd.' The younger the better. I have worked with minis for almost five years, and never has a good slap with a crop or my hand actually injured a mini- whether it was three weeks old or twenty years old. When a wayward foal in a herd of wild horses gets too rough with it's mother, it's dam will bite it on the rump or neck hard enough to get the point across. A firm smack when they get too rough with us is no different.
ETS: a horse should walk along-side it's master, one to one and a half feet away without you having to constantly force them back. If you were to give it 3 feet of room- the mini could easily get infront of you and block you, or behind- and drag you. If it were to spook- you would not have proper control, also. I teach all of my minis to walk unrestrained, shoulder to shoulder with me- following my every move without having to pull them. As for biting. Running into your fist? That isn't going to stop him. He'll try again next chance he gets. He will only stop if he understands that it is of no advantage to him to bite, kick, pull, etc. That he will be instantly corrected.
Also, no one wants to have to flail their arms like madmen to keep their horse at bay. Imagine how silly it would look to other horse owners? I believe that push to get them out of your bubble, then a smack if they continue to crowd- will sufficiently teach them for the long-term, without you having to constantly move your arms...
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