Anyone have success training horse not to kick other horses in the pasture? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone have success training horse not to kick other horses in the pasture?

I rescued a very sweet arabian mare in October. She has fit in with my other 2 mares very well. I was calling them 3 peas in a pod. Over the last 2 months she has started randomly kicking and going after one of my horses.

I was thinking it was her moving up in the pecking order or even being jealous of my working with that horse (It was happening after I would work the other horse) since she was only targeting that mare. My other thought is that she has come into heat and this may be linked to her cycles. Yesterday she did it to the boss mare who is older and can't move as quick as her.

So this is what happens: horses will all be hanging out, not eating, just in mellow rest mode, all 3 within touching range of each other, by choice in the pasture. The kicker will suddenly just let her back legs start flying at another horse OR if she is facing that way, lunge with her teeth first and then wheel and start kicking. Other horses do not make first move. No pinned ears or moving torwards her at all.

If I am out there when it happens I will make her move until she submits and gives me licking and chewing. I haven't had her go after the other horses within the same day after doing that correction, but I am obviously not out in the pasture 24/7 to monitor them.

I am looking for anyone who has had success with teaching their horse not to go after other horses while loose in the pasture. Separating them for long period of time is not an option.

I cannot tell if the kicker is in heat but I do know that my boss mare is right now. The problem maker otherwise is sweet and polite with me and other horses. Just the random outburst that last 30 seconds and then she is right back to being nice an social next to the other horses. I have not tried any supplements for moody mares since she really isn't mareish or moody other than these random outburst (Maybe 5 times in the last 2 months that I have seen).

Also to note, no horseflies or other biting insects have been present when I have witnessed the outbursts.

I have the vet coming out friday to do shots and coggins, so I will inquire with her too
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 09:34 AM
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I guess it could be medical/physical, but based on your post, it just sounds like normal horse behavior. Horses test because they want to make sure their leader is still their leader, competent, and paying attention. While some horses reign their entire duration together, some horses, for whatever reason, fall in the rankings. She could be noticing your other mare getting a little older, being not as fast, and not on her game as much as before.

I do not know about "random" outbursts. Horses are very good communicators, and they are always watching and listening for the slightest cues. What may seem "random" to you, they could have given a warning as slight as "that look", a tail swish, or a head gesture. Some horses aren't as tolerant to being ignored and will get more aggressive after that; not all horses give larger indicators, such as ear pins. If it really is "random" (which I don't think it is unless it is medical), then that's not really typical horse behavior.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, you change the environment and dynamics when you are out in a herd, which therefor changes the way horses act; you are an added stimulus. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. There are things you can do to minimize or enhance your interference. However, you cannot adjust and do so accordingly unless you are aware of what you are doing.
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Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-08-2019 at 09:48 AM. Reason: Adding.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 09:43 AM
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If "boss mare" doesn't make "kicker mare" regret her actions immediately, she's not "boss mare" anymore. I think you are having a change of leadership in your herd.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 10:03 AM
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You can't police what they do on their own time. You need to manage the triggers, be that pain, hormones, personality conflicts, space, food aggression, ect.

It could be something like transient pain, maybe reproductive, where there will be a twinge of pain randomly. She then takes it out on one of the other mares.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 10:40 AM
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This is normal horse behavior. It sounds like she is working on controlling the space, which means making other horses move when she says to. Once they start accepting her as the one who controls the space, they'll move with less incentive and things should calm down.

Training cannot change what horses do when left alone in their herd. No matter what you do when you are with the horses, that will never change what they do when they are on their own.
The only thing you can do is change the environment or who is in the herd.

It is important to realize horses act on instinct in their herd environment, and cannot be thought of as "good" or "bad" horses by their social interactions with other horses. Some horses will take chunks out of other horses' hides, I've even known a horse that killed another with a misplaced kick. He is still a lovely horse. That is part of the nature of horses and has nothing to do with their inherent "goodness" or "badness." We just have to keep horses safe by changing the environment if two horses do not get along or are not safe to be kept together.
Not every horse can be kept safely with every other horse.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 11:27 AM
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Some mares can get extremely cranky and/or flirtatious when in heat and that will create tensions.
We seem to have settled the mare we have that fitted that description by keeping her on a maintenance dose of magnesium all year round.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 02:22 PM
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Sorry to say, there is not much you can do. She may respect you when you are there, but as far as she is concerned, the others are fare game. If they are letting her do this then they are not her leaders. A true boss mare would not let a lower herd member come in aggressively like that. She would push that mare out of the herd until she decided to behave civilly (which is what you're doing when you are out there).
This may subdue her for a little while, but eventually she will go back to pushing the others around because the hierarchy in a herd is not decided by a vote. It is a 24/7 battle for them and lower members will always test and try to gain dominance.
What you have is a young horse testing her dominance and, as others mentioned, she will be giving signals and you may just be missing them.
Now, this may be hormonal - hard to say. Some mares are stud-like and though they may not be in heat themselves, they will become aggressive towards other members in order to keep them away from the mare that is currently in heat (dominant/possessive behavior). Some horses are just strange like that.
You mentioned it is not an option, but the only thing that you could try would be to separate her for awhile. Find somewhere else to keep her for a few weeks and then reintroduce her to the herd. This may be just enough to knock her back down to the bottom, or she may return just as bossy as ever.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 05:15 PM
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Agree with others. It sounds pretty normal, but IF it's truly random - not that you're missing subtle signs or such, agree also she could be cranky due to intermittent pain.

I can tell you though, there is training that I've seen work very well. That is, the horse getting kicked spins & double barrels the other twice as hard & keeps doing it until the instigator backs off - that tends to knock them down a peg or few!

Originally Posted by Joysthe14me View Post
If I am out there when it happens I will make her move until she submits and gives me licking and chewing.
This exercise will be totally unrelated for the horse. Horses can't think rationally to link abstract ideas like humans can. They need instant, direct consequences, not random stuff done minutes - or even more than a couple of seconds - later.

If you feel the need for punishment, you need to do it immediately, AS the horse is doing Wrong. And you don't keep doing it for some proscribed time, but the punishment must stop when the Bad Behaviour stops, for a horse to be able to learn the desired lesson.

So... not that I suggest you punish the behaviour we are speaking of but IF you were to do it in an effective manner, using 'make the horse move' it would be along the lines of... Horse starts to go at another with hooves or teeth, so you run the horse off forcefully. Maybe with a sting of a whip over her too. As she is moving away, she is not aggressing on her mate, so there is no need to continue punishment. If she comes back aggressively you again run her off. If she stays away or comes back meekly, you don't punish that.

Another reason I wouldnt punish this is, punishment is not well understood by an animal - or fair - if it's not consistent. You can't punish a behaviour sometimes but let it go at others(& of course you're not always out with them, let alone beside her to punish appropriately). The best she will likely learn is that she had better look out for you when you're close by.
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Last edited by loosie; 05-08-2019 at 05:21 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-08-2019, 07:20 PM
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Mares will be mares. I agree with others that this is absolutely normal behavior. The only other thing I can point out is horses buddy up in pairs, and you have an odd one out with no buddy. I am old fashioned in that I keep mares and geldings seperate. I don't need the studly Mr. Gelding mounting a mare or causing a stir to protect his mares. Is there another mare available to turn out with them so all can have a buddy?
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-10-2019, 05:54 AM
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I had a mare who was especially nasty with another mare. Something that helped with our specific situation was adding space. We put them out in a larger area and with there being more space to cover, they didn't tend to go head to head (well, unless it was time to come in... sometimes). Like others said, it's normal! I've personally found that I have successfully diluted the tension by giving them more space to roam.

I realize this may not be an option, but I felt it was worth mentioning! :) Good luck!!
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