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So I’m fairly new to horses, and I regularly put my boyfriends horse out in the pasture in the morning and bring him in at night. I’ve never had problems until yesterday. Two days now I’ve led him through the service door to go outside, with myself in front of him because the doorway is too small to be right next to him and both days now he’s gotten aggressive and pushed past me knocking me to the ground to get outside. He’s never shown me this type of behavior and I am afraid for my safety at this point and unsure what to do. Any advice would be helpful. He does not have the best ground manners, and gets hot from time to time. (He was a gelded late as he was used for breeding.)
 

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All horses will take advantage of a situation to be the boss. Some take a long time, others sense it quickly and waste no time seizing the moment.

The behavior needs stopped “yesterday” And it can be stopped quickly provided you are not a timid person.

I have a horse that used to try and rush the gate but an elbow to the center of his chest, while I backed into him (as if an alpha horse were kicking him) put a stop to it.

I am only 5’2” and my horse is 16.1H so you don’t have to be a big person to get the point across, you just have to mean business.

If you don’t elbow him now, then yes, you are correct, you are going to get hurt. Horses as a rule do not want to run over humans, but if your BF’s horse is so disrespectful as to mow you down, you need to muster up some courage and get after him.

My horse was never that bad. Had he been, I would have already had a buggy whip waiting at the gate and I would have lit his hind end up with it. This kind of behavior deserves 30 very ugly seconds of I am going to kill you and I don’t care who dislikes that mindset:)
 

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I wouldn’t call him aggressive, just very rude. Unless he does other things that you haven’t mentioned.

There are many ways to educate a spoiled horse on ground manners but since you are new to horses, it might not be the best idea to read about it online and do it yourself, without guidance. Most of them depend heavily on reading the horse and timing your corrections which can only be learned in real life.

Is your boyfriend experienced? Can you ask him to train his horse properly and to show you how to handle him once he is trained? If not, I would say you need to get a professional involved. I personally wouldn’t handle this horse until he is safe - and he is very unsafe for you at the moment.

If you absolutely HAVE to handle this horse (and I don’t advise it), try him out with a dressage whip. See how he reacts to you waving it about in a safe environment, his field or an arena. If doesn’t have a meltdown but does pay attention to it, try waving it about when you are leading him - again in a safe space where he can get away. He should pay attention to it without panicking. If he isn’t paying attention, give him a quick reminder - don’t hit him too hard but do wake him up. Only once you are comfortable with his reaction take it with you when you lead him through the tight space. Before you lead him through the tight space, make him stop. If there is space, circle him. Back him up (if safe and he knows how to do it - practice in a safe environment beforehand). Make sure he can see the whip. Only enter the tight space if you feel he is paying attention to you. If he has his eyes one the field, if he is prancing or pulling - do not enter the tight space. Trust your instincts.

Another, much safer way, is to place a barrier just outside the doorway so that he doesn’t have a clear escape path. For example, a few barrels or bales of straw that you both have to go around to get to where you are going. Horse are drawn to empty spaces and straight lines. Make sure you move the barrels around every few days so that he doesn’t learn the path. Even ground poles laid across the path could help (again, practice these in a safe environment beforehand if he isn’t familiar with them).
It could also help if you lead him with a bit in his mouth - it gives you much more control. Show him that control before you get to the tight space by stopping him, circling him, backing him up.

I must state again that you, as a beginner, are not safe trying to handle and train this horse - especially since he got away with it twice already - he absolutely must not get away with it again.
 

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Neither being used for breeding or gelded late is an excuse. That is not behavior tolerated for any reason by any horse. The situation is a dangerous one.

The horse has bad manners and is taking advantage of you.

Prior posters have given good advice. If your boyfriend isn't experienced enough to put manners on him and teach you safely to do the same then find a professional to help or don't handle the horse.
 

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A horse's actions are a result of what he was trained to do, either intentionally or inadvertently, or escape based on fear or pain.

There's two approaches for unwanted behavior:

1. Get big

Quote: This causes the horse to react back with more fear, causing us to react again and the cycle continues. Eventually the horse either submits out of fear and shuts down emotionally–at which point they are labeled as trained–or becomes so anxious or aggressive that they are labeled as untrainable.

Or

2. Take the horse back to the beginning and train a happy fearless horse.

This may fall on deaf ear but I felt inclined to say it anyhow. There are people that could turn that horse into a puppy dog. But that's up to the owner to source out, learn, and understand.

He’s never shown me this type of behavior
This is the big thing that jumped out at me. There is a REASON for a horse to exhibit this type of behavior when it never has before. The horse did not suddenly become rude, aggressive, or what ever overnight.

It's the caretaker's job to figure out what is going on, not just to try and beat it out of him.
 

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1. Get big

Quote: This causes the horse to react back with more fear, causing us to react again and the cycle continues. Eventually the horse either submits out of fear and shuts down emotionally–at which point they are labeled as trained–or becomes so anxious or aggressive that they are labeled as untrainable.
Respectfully, I disagree with this. I am all for gentle training and for listening to your horse, but there is nothing wrong with reacting the same way this horse's herd buddy would. If he jostled another horse too roughly he'd get the pinny ears or even a nip - it's normal. It's how horses communicate. And I don't think there is any other way to teach a horse to be "kind" to your space than by telling him where the boundaries lie. That can involve getting big, waving your arms and thus making him to back away from you. I think the line between communicating to your horse the way he understands well and turning it into a fear and "shutdown" response (in this particular situation) lies in your body language. You need to be knowledgeable enough of body language to be able to tell your horse, in no uncertain terms, that he needs to move away from you, but then also to release pressure when he does. Mixed signals can make a horse anxious, because they don't know what they're supposed to do. Horses feel safe when they have guidelines and when they know how they're meant to behave and know what the potential consequences could be. Much like children.

I think the OP's horse needs to learn to be nice about staying out of the handler's space (I should put this differently - the horse knows how to do this, but he also knows that the handler isn't reinforcing this right now. He got excited to go outside one day, and then realized that he wouldn't be corrected for that behaviour so now he repeats it. In other words, he's been trained to do this. This is how training works, whether it's intentional or not.). None of my horses would mow me down like that because they know it's simply not allowed. I have reinforced this by correcting them (not harshly, not cruelly, but clearly!) whenever they barged towards me in a way that was unconcerned about my space. It's important to set boundaries like that for our own safety, and because this is part of the foundation of setting clear communication between you and your horses. I think the bottom line is, horses understand consequences just like humans do. They might not always enjoy them, but they are necessary anyway. Just like humans, horses learn from consequences, and with horses as well this doesn't ever need to include making the horse fear you or hurting the horse.

In effect, I recommend, OP, that you spend some time working with the horse on the ground; figuring out how to move his feet, etc. It will help you figure out how to communicate with him and reinforce to him that barging into your space is one of things he's not allowed to do. This is easiest done if you get your boyfriend to show you in person. Get him to show you how he would react to the horse getting unruly while being lead. While leading this horse out from now on I would walk him to the door, make him stop, then you back outside while reinforcing to him that he has to stand still, and then you can step to the side and cluck him through. Hopefully this will form a habit in his mind that he must wait for your go-ahead to come out. If he's too quick and tries to get ahead of you to the door just stop him and back him up a couple steps; get his focus on you first. If he rushes through the door too quickly or without your "go-ahead" I would simply walk back in and try again. He will learn that going fast in this situation is only slowing him down in getting where he wants to go.
Don't stop him "in" the door though - some horses get claustrophobic in a doorway. I don't mind them hurrying through but only if I'm not in the way.
 
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I'd just work on ground manners with him, each day. :) I don't think he's being aggressive, he may just not know any better. Just work on backing, space (keeping your distance, for example back up, don't let him take a step until you say so etc.). Just work on little things each day, as you don't want anything becoming dangerous. If you need to get a trainer to help you that's totally okay too. Just be confident (they can sense if you are scared/nervous).
 

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@trailscout OP is a beginner, she’s unlikely to figure out anything. At best she can attempt to keep herself safe but even that is a reach. She should ask a professional for help. With all due respect, planting horse-whisperer ideas in beginners’ minds is rather dangerous advice. Sure, she should find a gentle trainer for the horse but she shouldn’t attempt to be lovey-dovey with this particular horse as he is already being dangerous.

I wouldn’t take a beginner’s opinion on “he has done nothing like this before” as truth. The horse has most probably been escalating his boundary pushing for a while - but she simply wouldn’t have known it for what it is.
 

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I agree with the others that the horse needs some work on manners.

But also, I think it is a basic safety rule to not be in front of a horse in a narrow space. That is a dangerous situation. Any horse could spook and run over you, even a respectful, well trained one.
That is a situation I avoid.

In that situation, I would teach the horse to go through the space in front of you. If the lead is not long enough, get a longer one. Once through, the horse can turn and wait for you to come through.

Those are the things I would teach the horse. But I wouldn't make it a practice for the horse to be behind you.
 

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So I’m fairly new to horses, and I regularly put my boyfriends horse out in the pasture in the morning and bring him in at night. I’ve never had problems until yesterday. Two days now I’ve led him through the service door to go outside, with myself in front of him because the doorway is too small to be right next to him and both days now he’s gotten aggressive and pushed past me knocking me to the ground to get outside. He’s never shown me this type of behavior and I am afraid for my safety at this point and unsure what to do. Any advice would be helpful. He does not have the best ground manners, and gets hot from time to time. (He was a gelded late as he was used for breeding.)
Have you always gone through the service door or is this a new route? Like the others, I would not call this aggressive. He sounds uncomfortable with the narrowness of the door and is bolting through it. If it is possible perhaps your boyfriend could take over handling him until you feel safer. If that is not an option, is there another wider, safer door to take him through?
 

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He’s never shown me this type of behavior
Didn't anybody read this?

May I post a signature of a member that I noticed. Think about this.

Quote: "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey "
 
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Can you have your boyfriend walk him through the same space, and then have him watch you do it? Does he do the same thing to your boyfriend? If not, you guys can hopefully work together to figure out how to make him behave for you. If he does the same thing to your boyfriend, you guys could probably benefit from some professional training.

I think sending him through first is a good idea, but teaching a horse to do that isn't too easy, in my experience, and you probably aren't the person who should be doing it. And if he's super eager to get out to the pasture, I don't see what would stop him from just pulling you along with him, or pulling the lead rope out of your hands (rope burn) and running away.

If this is behavior he wants to do, then every time you let him do it (and I'm not trying to say this to put blame on you, because I think you are out of your depth here), it reinforces the behavior and makes him that much more likely to do it in the future.

I guess one thing you could try is to make him stop in front of the gate each time, maybe even back him up a few steps, to make sure he's really focused on you and what you are asking. Then lead him through. You might also try walking back so you can keep an eye on him. But again, since you are not that experienced I'm not sure if it would help. If you know how to "read" him, walking backwards lets you see his face and body, and the second you saw him think about pushing through, you'd stop him.

If it's just going OUT to the pasture, and he really wants to be out there, you could try taking him to the gate, taking off his halter (maybe keep the lead rope looped around his neck), opening the gate, and then just sort of waving him through. This doesn't really solve the problem of the bad behavior, but it sort of punts, if you know what I mean. You aren't getting him to walk through nicely, but you also aren't reinforcing his pushy behavior.
 

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Didn't anybody read this?

May I post a signature of a member that I noticed. Think about this.

Quote: "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey "
I did, that's why I asked if going through the narrow service door was a new way to the pasture/turnout/barn.
 
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As previously said,,,is this door the only option? If so, and if your boyfriend isn't experienced enough to teach the horse how to either 1) learn a 'send' cue so that the person leading can send him thru the dooorway , let the horse turn and face, then the person walks thru (also previously said), or 2) learn how to back up thru the doorway with the person walking forward giving the back up cue. IMO, there is no safe way to lead a horse thru a narrow doorway or gate with the person in front. . I make it a practice to send the horse thru any doorway or gate even if it's wide enough to walk thru side by side, unless it's superwide, like a very wide barn opening. Also, I always have the gate open toward the horse (if at all possible), Vs having the gate open away from the horse, when it's a gate rather than a doorway. Seems like a Professional is needed to keep everyone safe,,to train the horse and the humans some groundwork and cues/techniques. Good luck! Please don't lead him thru that opening any more!!! Stay safe.
Fay
 
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Didn't anybody read this?

May I post a signature of a member that I noticed. Think about this.

Quote: "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaam’s Donkey "
She is a beginner. She wouldn’t know that a horse is pushing her around. It is more than likely that he has been escalating his boundary smashing for a while.

Anyhow, even she - as a beginner - said that his ground manners are bad. So it really isn’t out the blue. This isn’t a new behavior - it’s just the next logical step in his little campaign to become the king of the roost.
 

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Any advice would be helpful.
I think the OP erred in this statement.

There is such a diverse world view within the horse world on who and what a horse is. I know most think I'm wrong in my considerations, but to me it is monumentally depressing to see such aggressive approaches to a horse. Particularly when so many details of the "problem" are unknown.

What did the statement "gets a little hot" mean? It could mean lots of things as stated. Until more is known anything said about it could easily be inaccurate.

One of my neighbors keeps a beautiful mare cooped up for months in a very small pen. She is such a nice horse and I really feel sorry for her. The other day they turned her out of the pen in a field that containes their house and pen. She went racing around the house and field turning corners at almost a 45 degree lean. Came racing by the owner feet flying and around the house. The male part of the owner is an old cowboy and it was obvious that he was becoming a little alarmed at her antics. Even racing by him into the pen and right back out. I was laughing and smiling the whole while commenting on how may beans she must have stored up.

After not that long a time, she was calmly munching on grass around the house. She was fine. Just being a horse acting like a kid turned out to recess after months cooped up in a tiny class room.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you all for your help, I talked to my boyfriend about it when he got home. The horse in particular has always been led through that door unless the big doors are open (they are currently shut because it is December in Michigan and we have baby pigs in the barn) and it isn’t the first time that I’ve handled him. My boyfriend stated that the horse pushed past him as well the other day, and that he is spooked by the new grain bin that is south of the door. We talked about it and getting him used to the bin being.

as for being ‘hot’ when he was younger and before he came to my boyfriend (the horse is 20 now) he was a barrel horse. He gets it in him from time to time to take off once turned loose in the pasture or will go into a full gallop with someone on his back. He has never taken off in the pasture with me but does do it to other people that take him out.
 

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Those beans kicking out in exuberance and connecting could well mean a trip to the hospital. One that it may be a wile before coming out. We all want to think we have that magical, mystical relationship that says my horse would never injure me deliberately but the facts are they can and do. Many of us can come up with cringe worthy pictures of people in situations that make some of us shudder and others smile.

I've seen a man killed standing in front of a draft team that was dead broke but shot off like a flash running the pole into his chest, crushing the entire cavity. Lovely pose. Could have been a beautiful picture. Him framed between those two gentle giants.

The Percheron in my avatar that was supposed to be dead broke and sweet as a teddy bear put his new (and new to horses) owner in the hospital when she insisted on unloading him herself. He kicked out and she was laid out.

Another friend sounds like had a similar set up but a pair of horses. Turned them loose, one in joyful glee kicked out and put a leg through the side of their mobile home. No person injured but the vet bills were horrendous.

Sure there are those that can be abusers. Go overboard with correction. Are intentionally cruel to get their point across and then there are those in their newness to the horse world have no clue and pooh pooh the risk or get caught up in a training method that could work well for someone that knows what they are doing but could be dangerous tried by someone that doesn't get it.

For whatever reason the OPs boyfriend is absent. She is turning out morning and night. We have no clue where he is or how much experience he has. The excuses are already coming - was allowed to breed, was gelded late.... bad manners, hot. Where is the horse being kept that it is being walked through a service door. Why is that even being considered an acceptable path to the outside? Where are they going? Is the horse in a stall? Is there a walk to the turn out? How does she manage a gate?

Going in front. Following behind. Neither is a safe option if the horse has no ground manners and the human has little to no experience. You either end up run over or drug.

Too many questions. Not enough information.
 

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Sure. No such thing as a dead broke horse. Their brain is constructed a little differently in one area than ours. When something is going to go into our eye, we can't stop from blinking. It's automatic.

A certain level of flight or fight arousal takes a short circuit path through their brain straight to their muscles. They absolutely have no way under those circumstances to modulate their reaction. So that makes them dangerous at all times.

Glad to see the discovery of what was upsetting the horse for the last two days and that a solution is underway.

As has been said, the horse is never wrong. The horse only knows how to be a horse.

Scary deal about the draft horses. I had two dead broke drafts run away with me driving a hay wagon at the age of 13 YO or so. I learned about that a loooooony time ago.
 
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