Bullying Habit forming... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
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Bullying Habit forming...

My saddlebred is my heart. He is almost 6, a gelding, and as he was growing up, he was the submissive horse (rather, forced to be). Now, he is home with me and as I bring a new horse in, he becomes aggressive. Not all the time, mind you, but more like a sudden urge comes over him to be mean to a more submissive horse. I worked through the last horse that came in when he was a little testy with her, and he is fine with her now. But I just got another one in (rescue situation), and I was horrified to see my "pride and joy" behaving so mean! Needless to say, I separated the herd in different pastures so they cannot even see each other. The one that is getting picked is terrified of him. I don't want to get rid of him, as I've had him since he was a baby. I have 5 including him, and he is perfect with the other 3. I know there is a horse pecking order, and that is part of being a horse.. but I see this as something that could worse if I let it. I will continue to implement some training and work with him, but if anyone has a good cure (other than a good "come to Jesus" meeting.. we've had a few of those). I thought I would throw out my situation and hope that someone out there has some good sound advice for me and things that they have done. I just know that I need to curb this behavior asap before it becomes a monster and gets out of hand.
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 08:25 PM
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If you had disciplined effectively in the CTJ meeting, you would not still have an issue. My guess is that you are nagging ar him rather than truly letting him have it so that he thinks he is going to DIE for about 3 seconds. I mean scare the living tar out of him. That will work when you are around. There really is not much you can do to control him when you are not. But nasty aggressive behavior is NOT acceptable when a human is present. EVER.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by franknbeans View Post
If you had disciplined effectively in the CTJ meeting, you would not still have an issue. My guess is that you are nagging ar him rather than truly letting him have it so that he thinks he is going to DIE for about 3 seconds. I mean scare the living tar out of him. That will work when you are around. There really is not much you can do to control him when you are not. But nasty aggressive behavior is NOT acceptable when a human is present. EVER.
I agree. And I have no problem bringing him within an inch of his life. He's usually a doll... and NEVER agressive around humans. He's the social butterfly of the herd. When he did this, I was on the other side of the pasture, so I know he didn't think I was watching. But I don't want this to be an issue with ANY horse at any time in the future. I'm completely bewildered at his actions today. It's so not his personality.... I've owned him since he was 6months old, so I know him pretty well. I want to implement any behavior modifications that I can so this doesn't go any farther.
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 09:11 PM
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You did the right thing separating your horses

There are some horses in this life that are just bullies.

My horse #3 of 4 is a bully - always has been but he's gotten better now that he's older (he's 20). He wants to be the leader and is hesitantly being groomed for that position by the strong alpha who is a long 26.

Bullies are not being kind to other horses because they want to be, they are behaving because those other horses will knock the snot out of the bully if it doesn't mind it's manners.

My 13.3H 28 year old Arab is #2 and what is known as a "passive leader" but he does not have a bit problem taking a hunk of flesh out of the 16.1H bully if he has to - lol lol

The bully horse used to try and run my #4 horse thru the paddock corner if he got up on the wrong side of the sawdust that day but he's pretty much stopped that nonsense.

Just as an FYI with your horse, that might be of some help:

My bully horse is grain and soy sensitive so, I removed all of that from his diet. He is on a grain and soy-free ration balancer which is also low in protein and fat. I don't worry about low protein and fat in the feed pan because he is on 20+ acres of pasture:)

He also appears to be magnesium deficient as he has really stopped going after the #4 horse since I started him on Remission. Remission is magnesium and a lot of Vitamin B that is fed to horses with suspected insulin issues.

I started feeding the Remission as this horse shows subtle signs of insulin problems, I had no idea it was going to make such a kitten out of him, which he has even stopped going after the cats when they slip thru his stall

I'm not saying these are issues with your horse but while he's separated from the rescue, it wouldn't hurt to "rat experiment" with him on the feed and the Remission. Remission won't hurt him, he will dump it from his system if he doesn't need it; you will just be out $20 or so for a small tub at Tractor Supply

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 10:34 PM
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Well….even if you "cure" him, you may never 100% trust him. I have an old retired Clyde cross….biggest puppy dog ever. Never wanted to be alone-would go through fences to have friends, and not a mean bone in his body toward person or horse….except once-maybe twice. Once my BO put him in with her mare….she happened to look out the window at some point in the day and he was wailing on her. Had her covered and was trying to kill her. SO uncharacteristic of him. Somehow she managed to get them apart…never happened again. But it did bring to my mind that when I bought him as a 4 yo his breeder told me of coming out one day and finding one of the horses in his herd was kicked to death while he was still there.

Ever after I have kept him with geldings only, and am a bit cautious with turnout groups. He is currently a therapy horse….he is that gentle.

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post #6 of 7 Old 06-27-2014, 10:44 PM
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True enough, a horse like that can never be trusted 100%. If my #4 horse were to get sick enough to where he doesn't want to graze with the other three, I would pull him out of the pasture for his safety.

I am thankful to be retired and home 99% of the time so I can keep on eye on them. That alone makes a huge difference because I can holler out the window at the bully horse. He doesn't know if I am coming after him with the buggy whip or have I'm in dish soap up to my elbows. I've gone after him a few times on the 4-wheeler

Taking him off grain and soy and adding magnesium has made a huge improvement in his warring attitude; being 20 doesn't hurt either

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-28-2014, 09:46 PM
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Unless you can live with your herd 24/7 it is highly unlikely that any training you do with your horse will change his behaviour towards other horses. Exposing him to a CTJ meeting which involves punishing him within an inch of his life will do nothing except likely scare him, cause pain and seriously damage the relationship you have with him. He won't have the faintest idea why about why he is being punished. Ensuring that he is under your control whenever you are present is vital, but there are so many better training methods than making him think he is "going to die." Good groundwork which results in him responding immediately to light pressures from equipment is a must, irrespective of the situation. But it won't solve the problem of within-herd aggression.

He is a horse. Horses are sometimes mean to each other. Some horses get along just fine with others, some don't. Its in their individual temperaments and their DNA. In the wild, horses that experience repeated aggression from other horses simply leave or get out of the way. Its only when we keep them in paddocks with fences they really run trouble because they can't escape.

There are a couple of solutions to this issue. The first one you've tried is a good one. Separate either the aggressive horse or the picked on one. You are in effect doing what they would do naturally.

A second option is to let them sort it out. In most cases, the level of aggression will die down, usually within a week to 14 days. If you do try this method there has to be enough space for the picked on horse to get away from the aggressive one to reduce the injury risk.

I have horses coming and going on a regular basis and use this method a lot because it usually works. While the aggressive horse may chase and kick at the new horse a lot in the first few days, by the third day they will often be standing near each other and within a few more days they will be mutually grooming. I always closely supervise these encounters to begin with and if I think its getting out of hand, usually if the aggressor keeps on chasing rather than giving up when the new one moves away, then I will intervene and separate.

Alternatively I change the group arrangement for a while. I take away the aggressive horse's buddy and put them in the yard next door and introduce the new horse. There will still be the aggression for a while, but usually because the aggressor has lost his social support buddy, it quietens down more quickly.

Another option is to put them in a paddock next to each other provided the fences are good. To begin with there might be some fence patrolling and aggressive displays, but over time the aggressive horse usually comes to accept that the new horse isn't going away. Once the displays are reduced it can be useful to try them in the same paddock again. In cases where one horse is extremely aggressive I use this method and I've only had a few occasions in over 250 horses where it hasn't stopped the aggression.

In the rare occasions when the aggression doesn't dissipate I accept that for whatever reason those two horses can't live together and keep them separate.

When it comes to feeding time I make sure here are 2 or 3 piles per horse so the new horse still gets his fair share, and I make sure they are widely spread so no-one has to invade another's personal space to eat.

Horse to horse communication is far more complex and subtle than we may realise and although their behaviour often seems pointless or illogical, it makes sense to them. It is highly unlikely training has much or any impact on how horses relate to each other, especially when we are not around. We should certainly not punish them for what after all is natural behaviour.
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Horses are blameless participants in training- its up to us to get it right
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