Mare with extreme, escalating aggression towards geldings? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Mare with extreme, escalating aggression towards geldings?

Hello everyone, long time lurker here hoping for some advice.
Two months ago I got a 15 year old welsh D/arab cross on loan, with the possibility of eventually buying her. She spent most of her life competing until she retired due to injuries summer of 2013. After that she was sold as a brood mare suitable for gentle riding. Her current owner tried to breed her about a year ago, but it wasn't successful - according to the owner, the mare simply didn't want to/didn't accept the stallion.

I've had issues with her from the first week. She was a bucker in the school, which eventually improved (but didn't disappear) with determination and her being shod on her fronts. She was in good health according to the owner, and I had her back checked which was also fine. The other incident was after we popped a tiny jump out in the forest a couple of times, and she got so worked up she took off in an uncontrollable canter for one mile before I lost my stirrups and fell off on the last stretch home. I didn't manage to stop her no matter what I did.

End of February I moved her from a bigger DIY livery stable where she was alone in her field, up to a friends private stable, where my horse is currently pastured with two shetlands - a 7 year old mare, and a 26 year old mini shetland gelding who has always been very, very low in the pecking order. At first everything was fine and dandy between them all, the 7 year old bit my mare a few times but there was never anything serious. Problem now is my mare and the gelding. My mare started showing food aggression towards him, chasing him away, nipping him and such - but never really around me, only my friend.

Today was the worst by far though, and I have never seen or heard about something like this. My friend came at lunch to put up some new fencing where the mini shetland had been escaping into the neighbours lovely, green garden, and thus he had spent the night and half of the day inside in his stable. She let him out while she was in the field.. and my mare went absolutely berserk at him the moment he stepped through the gate. She galloped towards him, ears back and teeth bared, while he tried to escape from her running along the fence. She went after, pushing him up against it while biting and throwing her head. He got away, cantering desperately towards a fenced off area with machinery, planks and whatnot, and crawled under the lowest electrical rope to reach safety.. and my mare sets off at full speed after him again, JUMPS the fence which over 4 feet high, in order to go after him! My friend is shouting and going after her with a lunge whip, but my mare just continues biting and kicking and pushing the gelding up against the stone fence. Somehow he thankfully manages to squeeze past her, reaches the wooden fence going in to the neighbours garden, and breaks the lowest plank to crawl into their garden, leaving the mare cantering around the machinery and throwing a proper fit.

The gelding is very old and so small, and he has never, ever done anything bad or challenging to anyone, he always moves off and stays away. I can't fathom why my mare would go to such extremes to chase a horse like him, and actually jump high fences just in order to continue tormenting him! That can't be sound behaviour, can it?

Aside from these issues she's a lovely and well-mannered horse around me, she listens well, learns fast, and is brilliant with voice commands. But all of this is obviously a very dangerous situation for everyone involved, horses and people alike, and at the moment I'm set on the possibility of having to return her.

This turned out way longer than expected, so kudos to anyone who is willing to read this. If anyone got any ideas or thoughts about whats going on and what to do, I'd love to hear it.
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 12:51 PM
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Luckily she isn't yours!

She bucks, she bolts, and she is aggressive, I would just give her back and find another horse to loan/buy.

I suppose only you can decide if she is worth the effort. And your friend, since it was her little gelding that got the snot kicked out of him.
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 12:58 PM
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i agree that the mare is not "lovely" if she bucks and bolts and won't stop no matter what.

and, the mini was there first. you should move her or she'll cause him to really hurt himself.
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 01:10 PM
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It sounds to me like you have some very serious deeper issues going on here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divinity View Post
Her current owner tried to breed her about a year ago, but it wasn't successful - according to the owner, the mare simply didn't want to/didn't accept the stallion.
This was the first red flag that jumped out at me. Some mares that will not accept a stallion also will not accept geldings as, in their eyes, there is not much difference. Was she aggressive towards the stallion? Or did she simply not let him breed her? Those are two entirely different things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divinity View Post
I've had issues with her from the first week. She was a bucker in the school, which eventually improved (but didn't disappear) with determination and her being shod on her fronts. She was in good health according to the owner, and I had her back checked which was also fine. The other incident was after we popped a tiny jump out in the forest a couple of times, and she got so worked up she took off in an uncontrollable canter for one mile before I lost my stirrups and fell off on the last stretch home. I didn't manage to stop her no matter what I did.
Huge issue here that needs to be addressed. This mare is completely out of control and needs to be stopped now. Honestly, it sounds like you are in over your head. She needs some serious training to address these issues before someone gets hurt. Have you had a vet and chiro look at her to see if there are physical issues to be addressed? I doubt that will solve the problem but it is a place to start. I would have blood work done to check for hormone imbalances and vitamin/mineral deficiencies as some of those can cause strange behavior at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divinity View Post
...She let him out while she was in the field.. and my mare went absolutely berserk at him the moment he stepped through the gate. She galloped towards him, ears back and teeth bared, while he tried to escape from her running along the fence. She went after, pushing him up against it while biting and throwing her head. He got away, cantering desperately towards a fenced off area with machinery, planks and whatnot, and crawled under the lowest electrical rope to reach safety.. and my mare sets off at full speed after him again, JUMPS the fence which over 4 feet high, in order to go after him! My friend is shouting and going after her with a lunge whip, but my mare just continues biting and kicking and pushing the gelding up against the stone fence. Somehow he thankfully manages to squeeze past her, reaches the wooden fence going in to the neighbours garden, and breaks the lowest plank to crawl into their garden, leaving the mare cantering around the machinery and throwing a proper fit.

The gelding is very old and so small, and he has never, ever done anything bad or challenging to anyone, he always moves off and stays away. I can't fathom why my mare would go to such extremes to chase a horse like him, and actually jump high fences just in order to continue tormenting him! That can't be sound behaviour, can it?
Until you get the bottom of her issues, I would isolate her from the other horses. At this rate she is going to hurt them and herself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divinity View Post
Aside from these issues she's a lovely and well-mannered horse around me, she listens well, learns fast, and is brilliant with voice commands. But all of this is obviously a very dangerous situation for everyone involved, horses and people alike, and at the moment I'm set on the possibility of having to return her.
In what universe is this type of behavior known as "lovely and well mannered"? Did you not just finish telling us how she bucks, bolts, and attacks other horses completely unprovoked? I get that you want to see the good in her and I don't think she is a completely lost cause yet, but you need to get control of the situation now. If you are going to keep her, I would suggest getting a vet, chiro, and a reputable trainer well versed in dealing with these kinds of cases involved. If you cannot afford to take the steps needed to deal with her problems, or you feel like it would just be too much for you, return her if you can and be honest about why. No horse is worth getting maimed or killed over.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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Should have mentioned this in the original post, but the mini is safe! He is fine on his own, so he has spent the afternoon and evening inside, and tomorrow he will be outside while my mare and the 7 year old are being kept inside. Tomorrow evening I will be out trying to find poles that can build a big enough fence to separate them all, and my plan was to arrange to have the mare sent back this weekend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBayMare View Post
This was the first red flag that jumped out at me. Some mares that will not accept a stallion also will not accept geldings as, in their eyes, there is not much difference. Was she aggressive towards the stallion? Or did she simply not let him breed her? Those are two entirely different things.
This is what I reacted to as well - but since I have no experience or knowledge about breeding I figured I was just being silly and looking for faults. The exact words the owner used was "she didn't want to" - no idea at all what that included I'm afraid.

Quote:
Huge issue here that needs to be addressed. This mare is completely out of control and needs to be stopped now. Honestly, it sounds like you are in over your head. She needs some serious training to address these issues before someone gets hurt. Have you had a vet and chiro look at her to see if there are physical issues to be addressed? I doubt that will solve the problem but it is a place to start. I would have blood work done to check for hormone imbalances and vitamin/mineral deficiencies as some of those can cause strange behavior at times.
I'm definitely in over my head! She was supposed to be a calm schoolmaster, who I could work up my confidence on and actually enjoy riding on. Fair enough, she is a schoolmaster - she's taught me how to stay in the saddle. But that's not what I wanted, or was promised.

I had a chiro look over her, not a vet though. I've not received her passport or insurance papers from the owner yet (oh dear, that sounds so bad in writing!), and therefore I'm still restricted when it comes to blood work and medicines.. and as long as she isn't mine, I'm quite frankly not willing to spend that kinda money trying to figure out what's wrong.

Quote:
If you are going to keep her, I would suggest getting a vet, chiro, and a reputable trainer well versed in dealing with these kinds of cases involved. If you cannot afford to take the steps needed to deal with her problems, or you feel like it would just be too much for you, return her if you can and be honest about why. No horse is worth getting maimed or killed over.
I'm actually glad to hear you say that! At the old livery stable I was surrounded by girls in their late teens, who due to being brave and immortal, viewed bucking/bolting/rearing as something that was fun. I felt very old at 24, and always got the impression from them that I was too thin-skinned and touchy, and this was the way horse owning was meant to be like - that there would always be some sort of issue along those lines so I should just deal with it.

Thank you everyone for your comments! I really appreciate hearing them, and I won't have to second guess my decision to send the mare back, which is a major relief.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 04:21 PM
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After some bad accidents, the latest of which was a burst fracture in my spine (and I'm only 20...actually, turned 20 three months into recovering from the accident ), my motto is "if in doubt, get out". I believe you are making a wise decision. It is a pity for the mare but you must think about your own safety first. Trust me, titanium hardware in your back is a fantastic way to mess with airport security, but that's about the only upside. So I support any decision that leads to you not ending up in my position. Now I need to go find a time machine to hop back a few years and preach that sermon to myself a few times. Anyone have a spare one laying around?
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 08:00 PM
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that poor little gelding. i have and have had some horses that would find one horse that the would absolutely not tolerate being near, for whatever reason. I never understood why they were mean to a particular horse, but i would make sure they were kept away from each other.
In the wild , the other horse would be able to find a different range or herd. It could have been because they perceived the older horse as ill etc.
This mare could have problems with her ovaries.
It is good that you are returning this horse. I would look for a nicer mannered trained horse.
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-24-2015, 08:36 PM
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I have heard of ovarian problems. Not saying that's what this is, just that it's been mentioned to me regarding my mare.

She would try to chase off another mare we had vicisouly (sp?) . I ran out there with a lunging whip and broke it up, but I NEVER left them alone.

My vet mentioned ovary problems, but I never got around to testing before the "inferior" mare developed a huge health problem and we lost her.

I currently have my mare on "mare magic" to see if that helps. Just started, so don't know yet.

The point I'm getting around to making is that human safety comes first. Occasionally its a discipline problem when a mare chases another horses around like that.

My thoughts are if this is your first horse, I would return her and find something that you can learn and grow with.

If you feel that you are up to taking on this challenge then the first thing you need to do is enlist the help of a professional trainer. A true professional trainer. Bucking and bolting is not to be tolerated not matter what the conditions.

Only you can decide with you're up for.

Please keep us update on what you decided
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-25-2015, 09:29 AM
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It certainly sounds like this mare has too many issues and since you don't own her it is wise to get out of the situation before something more serious happens.

Some of my thoughts are:
Horses like people take a liking or dislike to certain individuals. Is it this particular gelding or geldings in general?

Refusing one stallion means nothing. I have seen mares, bitches, and other female animals be quite particular. The theory is that they are looking for a good genetic match to produce a strong offspring. Unfortunately they don't always have our goals in mind

An ovarian problem could be behind her actions or it could be simply a behavior problem. Either way it sounds like she has too many issues for you to purchase her.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-25-2015, 03:01 PM
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A somewhat different angle: are you sure your friend is telling the truth?
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