Lead mare is getting nastier? Thoughts on how to help...? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 11-22-2014, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Question Lead mare is getting nastier? Thoughts on how to help...?

I am relatively new to horses in the sense that I haven't owned 'my own personal horse' for the past 20 years until this summer. I bought a 4 yo mare. She has lived on our farm for 4 mos by herself. She was a bit unsettled, paced a lot, seemed to always be a bit hyper aware and would have a tantrum if we changed anything...move from pasture to pasture, put in stall, etc. So we always intended on getting her a buddy. And we finally did at the beginning of October so she would have a buddy. The new mare is a 15 yo. Very quiet, submissive, non-dominant. A real sweet heart.

My 4yo mare has taken lead mare position. But as time is going on (week 6 of their life together) she is progressively getting nastier towards the older mare. I am seeing more now that we have had to pull them off the pasture because it isn't growing and it is way to wet. They are in the large dry lot by the barn all day/night so not to distroy our pasture. I feel that the 4yo mare has been picking on the other mare more. We even incurred our first really non-scratch wound from a scuffle inflicted on the older mare. Thank god no vet required. But again today, the younger mare started out 'herding' the older mare to finally just nail her with another violent kick.

It has freaked my husband and I out enough that we are now seperating the 2. So one horse is in stall while other one is out....and vice versa. This I don't see as a viable long term solution (way to expensive on shavings, way to much need for me to be home a certain times to turn out horses from stall, makes the horse that is in stall annoyed the other one is 'out'...list goes on. But this is what we have reverted to do to avoid drama between the 2.

So my questions are this:
Does this pecking order stuff subside after awile?
What is the typical time frame (if there is such a thing)?
Does it a get worse before it gets better kind of thing?
Is there anyway I can keep the younger mare from kick the stuffing out of the older mare? Kicking seems to be her go to weapon of choice...
Can you implement devises to make kicking less attractive (kick chains, electric shock -like a dog collar-I actually saw this on someones blog and was surprised...didn't know this existed as a devise!!!)
Is seperating the 2 the only option?
I realize pecking order dominance is typical but to what extent do you say it is way to dangerous for the other horse?

This is so tough, really freaking me out. I know they have to figure out pecking order but I feel that it was established. and clear leadership is with the 4yo big bad bully mare. But she just keeps harrassing the older mare.

Thoughs, suggestions, please help. I would greatly appreciate it!
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post #2 of 12 Old 11-22-2014, 10:32 PM
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Sometimes it gets better with time, sometimes worse. What was the 4yo living situation before you bought her?

She is still very young and often they get taken away from the herd before the herd has taught them "etiquette". She may be on a teen age power trip.
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-22-2014, 10:56 PM
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I have one horse who cannot be out with any horse at any time, he is violent, I truly think he would kill one of my others if given the opportunity so we keep him separate at all times. Yet he goes bananas when he cannot see the other horses.

Could you cross fence the area so they could see each other across the fence but not have access to each other. It may get better it may not, but cross fencing will ensure nobody gets hurt and save a lot of trouble in the end.
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-22-2014, 11:36 PM
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If it hasn't settled in 6 weeks I doubt it will get any better.
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 02:23 AM
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Give up the pasture. I'm guessing there is not enough room for those two to be together yet. It can take a long time for some horses to become pals and in the meantime they have to have enough *lots, of room to get away from one another. Your pastures will come back better than an injured horse. Just plan on reseeding in the spring. You might also try some raspberry leaf for the young ones nerves. Horses have a way of confounding us and doing things in their own sweet time and sometimes we just have to work with that. Please give them more space before the older mare gets hurt because if they are too close then the lead mare is going to keep getting nastier as she keeps telling the lower mare to back out of her space but she doesn't comply because she can't. Lead mare can't reason out why the lower mare doesn't do what she's telling her, she's just going to keep pushing harder and harder and your sweet ol gal is going to get hurt. And it could be bad as you obviously do understand.

Anyway, usually space is what they need. If she is actively charging after her with malicious intent then you may have to separate them. But again, you'll still need to give them space. For instance if you simply divide the space their in right now you still have the same problem and have simply added another element to get hurt on. Horses will kick at another horse regardless of the fence/barrier and those can be some nasty injuries.
It should eventually settle down. It does not sound like your young one is exceptionally nasty or aggressive, just bossy and high energy.
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 02:37 AM
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Your 4 year old mare would greatly benefit from spending some time in a herd environment with a very strong leader. Sometimes people want to protect a foal so they separate mare & foal from their other horses. I'm guilty of doing that with my first foal and I did him a huge disservice. What happens is that a brat is created that has no social manners. Mares don't tend to teach their own foals the lessons they need. They're like a doting mother who thinks junior or juniorette can do no wrong.

My gelding does accept living in a herd environment now but I had to turn him out with a couple of fillies that beat the crap out of him and it still takes a certain routine whenever I introduce a new horse to his herd so that he accepts them. He's 19 years old now and never gotten completely over being aggressive.
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 12:38 PM
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I only have males right now so i can't really say...maybe it is a mare thing? but usually the herd pecking order stuff sorts out pretty quickly like in a couple of weeks and then keeps on smoothing out over time...my boys play together lots and they bicker sometimes but i rarely see a mark on them and if i do it is just a little scratch once in a while...

if your two will not stop the fighting and it is getting worse instead of better it says that something is wrong somewhere...does your old mare have room to run off if young mare attacks? what does she attack over, is it food or just no reason? do they have access to hay 24/7? how large is the "large" dry lot? it should be at least 2 or 3 acres to give them enough room to gallop and enough space to avoid each other if they need to...if all that is ruled out...are there other horses sharing any fence lines or anything else that might be making one or both of them not feel safe where they are at?..

i would not use cruel devices to "fix" what is probably a man made problem...devices wouldnt fix the problem they would just hide the symptoms...hope this can help...good luck!!
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 12:48 PM
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Agree with the cross-fencing. Your older mare will thank you.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 01:24 PM
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Some horses just are not suitable leaders. I rescued a pony. My lead mare and her were best friends with in days. My other mare who is #2, absolutely hated the pony and had to be kept separate. I tried putting them together a few times and she chased the pony all over the property trying to bite her, kick her.

Now I know I will have a monster if #2 ever becomes a lead mare! She has all the signs of wanting to be a leader. She wants to ride out front, she doesn't mind riding by herself. The only reason my other mare is boss is because #2 doesn't care about food, and the boss mare does!

If it comes to trail riding, #2 has to lead. My boss mare does not like making decisions unless it is food related.

I free leased a horse for a short period of time who was absolutely nasty to other horses. Her owner said she knocked their gelding to the ground and stood on top of him! I kept her separate after she cornered my boss mare and kicked the daylights out of her multiple times and would not let her escape.

If some horses are given power, they abuse it. I love my old boss mare as she doesn't damage anyone, doesn't really make contact, and rules by kicking from 10 feet away. I will kick if I have to, but i don't really want to, so stay away!
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post #10 of 12 Old 11-23-2014, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCnGrace View Post
Your 4 year old mare would greatly benefit from spending some time in a herd environment with a very strong leader. Sometimes people want to protect a foal so they separate mare & foal from their other horses. I'm guilty of doing that with my first foal and I did him a huge disservice. What happens is that a brat is created that has no social manners. Mares don't tend to teach their own foals the lessons they need. They're like a doting mother who thinks junior or juniorette can do no wrong.

My gelding does accept living in a herd environment now but I had to turn him out with a couple of fillies that beat the crap out of him and it still takes a certain routine whenever I introduce a new horse to his herd so that he accepts them. He's 19 years old now and never gotten completely over being aggressive.
This. I would give it more time. 2 can be an awkward number... I know "horses are like chips" but without a herd setting it can be awkward.

Sounds like you are concerned but honestly scratches and a few cuts are not "beat the stuffing out of". Now if you have serious injuries or actually see the filly cornering her and "attacking" (and do have your fence set up so this CAN'T happen) that's a different story. So really don't worry about scratches.

You really need a horse to kick the filly's butt and put her in her place. Right now she's a teenager acting out. I think it will settle over time but it's not doing the filly any favors to learn that being a bully is ok. So find a herd or an old broodmare, that is NOT aggressive but has no problem teaching discipline and putting a little "punk" in their place.
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