HELP!!! Is my gelding being aggressive?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
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HELP!!! Is my gelding being aggressive??

I bought my gelding about a week ago, and everything has been going well until this morning. Every morning I give him some apple and spend time with him. This morning he wasn't in the best mood. He ate his apple and when I was petting him he let out a squeal and pushed my shoulder back. The push wasn't hard but just enough for me to back off. There was also a bit of teeth involved. I took the hint and left him alone. A little background on the horse, he was owned by a guy who had never been around horses. He pretty much rode him 6 times a year, and is all the attention he got. He left the horse in a halter and a round pen because he is a hard catch. I have made alot of progress bc he no longer runs from me in pasture, but I am worried ab his attitude. Is he just annoyed with attention or is he being aggressive? Any advice would be helpful!!!
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post #2 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:14 PM
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Answer: yes.

I wouldn't use the word "aggressive" so much as "testing you to see who is the top horse". This is a normal behavior horses engage in with each other all the time. You backed off, so you told him very clearly, "you are the top horse, not me."

Expect this behavior to escalate quickly unless you put an end to it right now. If you don't know how, then you are going to need experienced help.

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post #3 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:21 PM
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No more treats until he starts to do something to earn them - even if its just being caught, led somewhere and tied up to be groomed and checked over. He can then have his treat when he goes back out - provided he deserved one

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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I was worried this was a dominant behaviour. What would be your suggestion to stop this? The previous owner is shocked he is doing this. Is he just pulling my leg or is it just me?
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
No more treats until he starts to do something to earn them - even if its just being caught, led somewhere and tied up to be groomed and checked over. He can then have his treat when he goes back out - provided he deserved one
Agree.
You are becoming a personal vending machine for him, with his assuming his right to those treats.
Hand feeding treats, done by someone who knows their hrose very well makes sure the horse never becomes food aggressive, is done by many of us, so I won't just post the golden rule of not feeding hand treats, as a dozen or so people with quickly state that they do so, but if advising someone not that experienced with horses, certainly will give that advise.


Feed a treat, in a bucket, AFTER the hrose has done something to deserve it,like being easy to catch and halter. Making sure the horse always remains respectful is key.

There is the story of the woman, who always carried treats in her one shirt pocket, with the horse knowing that fact, allowed to nuzzle her in that general area, looking for that treat. He was not really aggressive, but not being corrected, one day escalated to giving her a partial mastectomy in that area!
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ashnicmo View Post
I was worried this was a dominant behaviour. What would be your suggestion to stop this? The previous owner is shocked he is doing this. Is he just pulling my leg or is it just me?
It is you. You are on your way to making hi into a spoiled horse with no respect
What should you have done?
First of all, if not able to see when ahorse starts to become pushy, demanding, and correct immediately, dON"T feed hand treats.
When he showed that attitude, you should have gotten after him, hard enough so he understood his place and remained respectful, knowing he had crossed the line.
Stop trying to win his affection with hand treats. He is not a dog.
Making you back off, 'with some teeth involved', is not acceptable. Yes, he has decided that he is dominant to you, and was not teed off at the attention, just that no more treats were forth coming, so he just decided to tell you to buzz off!
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Im not used to a horse who is hard to catch. My other gelding comes when called, but I have had him since he was 3. I knew he was a hard catch, but the owner reassured that apples and/or sweet feed would guarantee an easy catch. I gave him a treat bc he actually came to me this morning. I may just be in over my head. I try the pressure/release approach to catching him, to no avail. The previous owner just chased him until he tired.
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 01:18 PM
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Yep. He decided that since you didn't have any more treats, you needed to get lost. You should have gotten after him and worn him out for that, but since you didn't, I'd carry a crop next time you go in. If he comes at you, make him realize that is a VERY bad idea.

This horse sounds like a disrespectful, lazy cuss used to being left alone. It's fixable, but it will take some commitment and learning on your part. Since you have a round pen, look into the basic groundwork methods of Chris Cox, Clinton Anderson, and Warwick Schiller. All are similar, and all start with teaching the horse respect, and at the same time, how to work in partnership with you. This will also go a long way toward the catching issue. If you're frightened of the horse, you may need to work with a trainer to get the foundation of your relationship going in the right direction. Right now he views you as a walking vending machine. Horses figure out very quickly who can be bullied and who can't. Most likely he never tried this with the previous owner, or if he did, they got after him and he stopped.

Look at it from the horse's point of view-- he's new. He came to your place and you put him in a pen by himself. When you visit him, you pester him, but you bring him treats. He's now decided that the treats are good, but then he wants you to go away, not mess with him. He's in a new place with new people and is getting the lay of the land, and having no leader presented to him, he's decided he's in charge.
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post #9 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 01:45 PM
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There is a gelding on the property where I board that has learned at a previous boarding facility that charging people with teeth out gets the food. He's a sweet gelding any other time except for feeding time. He went after me once when bringing hay to my mares. I had no choice but to drop the hay and leave. I promptly came back with a lunge whip and reclaimed my hay. I no longer go around him without a whip at feeding time. He has learned to stay away from me at feeding time but I can almost guarantee that he would try it again if he doesn't see the whip. Other people still just drop the feed and run. If he were my horse he would get the C*** smacked out of him and chased off. I would make him stand out there at the far end of the field while everyone else with good behavior is eating. This gelding that I am talking about is the low guy on the totem pole. Humans are the only ones he can push around for food. My yearling filly is even dominant over him.

This behavior with your gelding needs to be nipped in the bud right now or he will one day hurt you or someone else. A funny thing happens when you make it clear that you don't want a horse to come up to you. They then want to.

There will be only one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-20-2017, 02:30 PM
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What other people said. I do feed treats as a reward for coming across the pasture to get their fly masks taken off so I don't have to walk out there. After the masks come off, they get their treats and wander away. My horses know that being pushy in any way gets pushed back hard, so they wait obediently. My filly came to me rather spoiled by being randomly fed by well-meaning strangers so for a year or more she was on a treat fast, until we came to an understanding. It was not a single lesson, but hundreds of subtle interactions over many months.

If you don't know very clearly how to reward behavior using food, just don't do it at all.

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