Extreme herd aggression! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Extreme herd aggression!

Right now we are in a sticky situation. We are looking after a TB gelding (13yo) called Fleet. He has his own paddock right now, because when we put Luca (my gelding) and Syd (my sister's gelding) together with him, he started to seriously attack Syd, and I don't mean simple nips or the occasional charge or kick, no, Fleet kept CHASING Syd around and around the paddock, biting down on Syd HARD, with his ears back and eyes showing pure FURY. While I know that this is here dynamics, Syd got badly injured by Fleet's bites, he still has three big scars on his bum from it. AND he's terrified of Fleet. So we put Fleet on his own paddock, he fretted a bit but then calmed down. And he's still there, while the other two are together....and now that there is one big paddock ready to be grazed on, we are thinking of putting them all back together. Now here are the questions:

Is it a good idea to put them all together?
How should we do it?
Was what Fleet did normal herd behaviour?

Here is some info on the animals:
Luca: 6yo Standardbred gelding 16hh
Syd: 15-17yo Standardbred gelding 15hh
Fleet: 13yo TB gelding, about 15.3hh
Goats: 3 adult goats, get on fine with all the horses, kept on a paddock with Luca and Syd.

HERD ORDERS AND RELATIONSHIPS:
Luca and Syd: best buddies, Syd is Luca's boss at feed times, but a little nip and flat ears is the worst he's ever done.
Luca and Fleet: okay together, but Fleet is the boss at all times and sometimes threw a bite at Luca when they were together.
Luca and Goats: Get along fine, but Luca likes to take his anger out on them and bares his teeth at them and strikes his foreleg at them, making sure to miss by a mile, though. he doesn't hurt them, they normally keep a little distance.
Syd and Fleet: Syd is terrified of Fleet after the attacks. He keeps well away from Fleet.
Syd and Goats: no problems at all, he sniffs them and walks off, doesn't attack them at all.
Fleet and Goats: Fleet charges at them occasionally (when they were together) but never intends to hurt them.

Soo....extra info:

-When Fleet attacked Syd, it was the first time they were all together.
-The goats were not present at the time of the attack.
-Luca used to be with Fleet.
-Luca stayed with Syd when we got him home for a few weeks (Syd is the newest horse on the block) , leaving Fleet on the old paddock for a while.

Wow..that was a lot. Cookies to all of you who read the whole thing
But yeah, the questions are somewhere at the start...
Thanks!


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post #2 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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I really need some advice...


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post #3 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 07:43 PM
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Has fleet been with other horses before, In a herd situation? How long have you known fleet? Etc.. I suspect fleet is the problem, hence the focus on him. Sounds proud cut, or even cut late to me. Some act fine, some do not!
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for answering, Phly. *
Now, to your questions:
- before Fleet came to us, he used to be with other horses. In fact, he was always the least dominant! Also, with Luca, he was never REALLY aggressive and acting like a normal gelding in a herd situation.
-I have known fleet for 2 and a half years, but he has been in our care for about 1 year. I always thought of him as a calm, gentle horse who could sometimes still have his "TB moments".
-I will ask his actual owner (we basically free-lease fleet since the owner has no space for him) if he was proud/late cut, but he normally behaves like a normal gelding when he's with Luca or in a quiet place. When he's excited or startled, he normally throws a little bucking fit. He's a very frustrating horse to work with, but he really is a sweet horse (to humans) deep inside.*

So, what should I do about this situation? Any ideas?


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post #5 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 08:32 PM
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I personally would keep them seperated, and sounds like you can. That's the safest option.

Was he with your horses and acted ok till now? Or straight outta the gate he was a dink? If he was fine before, I'd double suspect proud cut.

If it started straight away, it's less likely. But still an option.

We sold a gorgeous paint that was proud cut, well actually auctioned. (And even with full disclosure, hand brought good money). We got him in the summer, he was a dream horse, pastured with mares and geldings 24/7. He was low man. Fast forward to next spring, he went nuts!! Seriously, he lost his mind.
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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It was actually Fleet's owner's idea to put them back together..I personally wouldn't put them back together. Syd really doesn't deserve to be beaten up like that again.*

-Fleet actually grazed ok with Syd and Luca for about 15-20 minutes and the first attack actually started when Fleet was being led around on the paddock (I can't actually remember why we were leading him) and out of the blue he charged at Syd, ripping the leadrope out of my hands. We left the horses where they were, thinking this was just herd dynamics but then Fleet attacked again about 5 minutes later.*

The problem is that there aren't any other paddocks available for fleet...that would mean that he would have to stay on the paddock he's on right now, which is going low on grass. As I've said...a sticky situation...
We can't halve the new paddock with hot wire because the goats keep wrecking it for the sheer entertainment AND every time I separate some part of a paddock with hot wire (hot or not) the next morning I find Luca either grazing on the other side of it or all tangled up in it. He's already had 2 (minor) injuries because of that...

But do you think we should give it a shot, putting them all together (without the goats at first)?


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post #7 of 15 Old 05-28-2013, 09:31 PM
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I wouldn't risk one of the horses getting run through a fence. That's just me. Sound like its above and beyond just some bite on the rump.

Though if you do try it again, I'd leave the goats. They may keep fleet busy and take some pressure off the other horses. I've had good luck with bigger herds over smaller ones. The aggression can be spread out better.

Well there's another way, and its labor intensive and some would say its too harsh. If ya wanna know though, you can PM me. Really it's not that bad but some folks can be a lil sensitive.
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-29-2013, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Well, yesterday I took Syd to see Fleet. I left him on a long lead rope so he didn't feel pressured. Fleet was on his paddock. I led Syd over, who stopped a little bit behind the fence, obviously unsure. Yep, he still remembers what fleet did to him and he was looking at me like, "Are you seriously suggesting I go over to THAT BEAST to say HELLO???" But Fleet walked over, gave a little nicker and stretched his neck over the fence, trying to reach Syd. Syd didn't move at first but then extended his head a little and they sniffed each other for about 5 seconds before Syd moved away a bit and started sniffing the grass. Fleet turned around slowly and started to graze, still close to Syd. I've heard somewhere that it means that Fleet is saying,"I am in a vulnerable position, I am not going to attack you" Syd started to graze close to the fence, not very nervous anymore. He was still a bit wary, though, but I would be, too, if someone had attacked me like that a while ago. But yeah, I see SOME progress here...and after Syd left, Fleet neighed after him.

I think we will bring Syd to Fleet again today, just for another "hello".
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post #9 of 15 Old 05-30-2013, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some pics of Syd and Fleet sniffing each other. The second time I brought Syd over, he didn't seem so freaked out anymore! And Fleet seemed really friendly.

Why, hello there!
http://i1168.photobucket.com/albums/...ps4bcf3f0f.jpg

AWWW....
http://i1168.photobucket.com/albums/...pse9d39bb3.jpg

They seem pretty fine with each other! I think we'll put them all together this weekend....I hope it works out *fingers crossed*


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post #10 of 15 Old 05-30-2013, 05:14 PM
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I'm considering writing a primer on basic new owner horse owning bc newbies and less experienced horseman do not find out about some of these horse behaviors before they buy one or a small herd, as you have done.
#1 Not all horses have been socialized
#2 You do not EVER put a new horse directly into an established herd
#3 Some herd leaders are both bullies and cowards

Horses do not understand equal. One is first and the other is second. Horses love routine. A new horse upsets the routine bc everyone in the herd has to find out where he is in the pecking order. I take months to introduce a new horse into my herd. When the two strongest personalities get turned out together, there WILL be a fight. Some horses almost make it a "stallion-like fight to the death"...or until somebody goes through or over the fence.
Usually I put a new horse in the next turnout area for several months and they get to know each other over the fence. It is always best to evaluate horses when tied up and working with each other. Once they behave under saddle together, and get trailered with each other, you can start turning them out together for short periods and then permanently. I have the Vet bills to prove when I didn't understand this. Sometimes a horse can die under these circumstances. Horses are not the only animals that operate this way, although there are intelligent enough to be trained to put up with each other. Unlike chickens, where only roosters raised together won't try to kill each other, you can work a new horse into an existing herd, but you have to be smart about this.
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