Aggression at Feeding Time
So you know who I'm talking about:
Wes - My TB gelding, we got him about 3 weeks ago
Buddy - My husband's mule gelding, we've had for about a year
Buddy is a major feed thief. He's always eating from any pan other than his own.
Right now we don't have stalls built yet to get everyone separated.
Buddy is a good weight, and gets significantly less feed than Wes who needs to gain quite a lot of weight (OTTB), so Buddy's always done eating first.
During the first two weeks of having Wes, I actually went out and held the feed bucket for him while I sat on the mounting block so I could push Buddy away when he would try to steal Wes' feed.
This past week, I tried feeding our normal way, with pans spaced out on the ground along the fence line, but that wasn't at all successful. I'd guess that Buddy probably took close to half of what I had given Wes.
The past two days, I've taken a bucket into our run-in shelter so Buddy was blocked from 3 sides. Wes can pretty well take care of himself most of the time from one side since he has at least a foot of height on Buddy.
This is where the real problem comes in.
At first, Buddy's behavior was just annoying. Not he's getting more aggressive, and I don't really feel safe going in to feed.
The first day of feeding in the shelter, Buddy charged after me as I was taking out the empty bucket - ears back, head down, the same way he does when a dog comes in the field. I threw my arms up and he stopped, then I grabbed hold of his halter and made him back continuously for a good 2-3 minutes without stopping. He behaved much better after that.
Today, as I was walking in with the feed, Buddy spun around and tried to kick either me or Wes with both back feet. Either way, it was in my direction. Thankfully, Wes was between me and Buddy or he probably would have got me.
Wes turned to Buddy and bit him while I moved quickly away in case they were going to fight.
Once the bucket was hung and Wes was eating, Buddy came up, Wes was tossing his head and pinning his ears, the bucket got knocked on the ground and spilled, and then Wes came out to where I was looking for more, and Buddy ate every bite.
So now that he's been rewarded for what he did, I expect it to be worse tonight for evening feeding.
I get that they haven't been together long, and they have to work out their dominance issues for themselves, but Buddy used to know to not pull those stunts while I'm in the pasture.
I don't just want to separate them, or tie them, but I might have to for a little while so this can be fixed.
This winter, they'll be fed in their stalls anyway, but I want to really fix it, not just prevent the possibility since separation might not always be an option.
I need some kind of training solution to fix this permanently.
It's like Buddy has lost all respect for me, and I'm not sure why.
I'm not really sure what to do to get him behaving.
He's healthy and on 24/7 good pasture. It's not like he's starving, but he acts like he's never seen food before.
He just looses it as soon as he sees the bucket. He always has, but it's getting worse and worse, from excitement to annoying and now to this.
The only suggestion I've had so far from other sources has been to get him into a round pen and run him until he's on his knees. I'm not sure that's really the best way to go about it, but if it would work then that's what I'll have to do.