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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that sounds ridiculous. I've been riding for 23 years so I should know better, but I'm not sure what else it can be and it's becoming dangerous.

My 14 yr old 16.3hh OTTB gelding I've had for over 8 years ( my first horse ) has always been very possessive of me. He will shove his way between me and another horse, lunge at a horse that gets too close to me, chase others from me etc. He's even done it when I'm leaning under him for a blanket strap or wrapping/unwrapping his legs. It's very scary!! And he is always very clearly trying to keep the other horses away from me. Now, I know what he's doing when he does that, and quite honestly it once saved my life when a horse attacked me six months after I got him. I probably would have been killed if he hadn't come to my rescue, but that is a long story and I'm already rambling, sorry!! =( He is so so sweet, he is wonderful to ride, and he is so very friendly. Huge part of the family.

Anyways, he deems himself first in my life, and no other horse can be next to me or he has something to say about it. I prefer for him to be out with either a very submissive mare, or a mare as dominant as he is. A moderately dominant mare who wants to move up ****es him off. Unfortunately, my 17hh 12 yr old Holsteiner/TBx mare I rescued almost 5 years ago is moderately dominant, wants to move up the totem pole, and has now been forced back into being turned out with him by my barn owner. They are like siblings. They love each other, they hate each other. They fight, they play, they graze nose to nose. For the most part, they're so sweet to watch together, even grooming each other all day. Until they see me, and then the trouble starts.

My gelding trots to the gate, and she is right behind him on his tail. He spins around and charges at her or he'll do a pathetic little kick and she'll squeal all offended and run away. They both get to the gate, him in front, her not far behind. They both shove their noses over at the same time for attention. I have two hands, not a big deal!! My problem has happened when I'm outside the gate, but mostly it's when I'm in the paddock with them. Last night I was in the paddock with them ( I avoid this at all costs ) because my barn owner had forgotten to remove his polo wraps in the morning before turning them out, and after a full night and day in them they were worrying me. They hadn't slipped but still, it was hot out and I don't want wraps on him that long. I took the polos off, gave them each a pat for being polite, and moved for the gate. The SECOND I moved for the gate everything in my vision exploded in bay ( gelding ) and chestnut ( mare ). Hooves were flying by my face, she was squealing, he was covering me in sugar sand. Someone reared, someone else bucked, all within two feet of me. I did what any self respecting person would do - I flinched, ducked, flailed, and managed not to get kicked while somehow ending up at the gate and miraculously not being zapped by the electric fence 1/2" away. My gelding was proudly standing at my right hand nosing his halter on the gate, while my mare was sulking several feet back. I, meanwhile, was trying not to have a heart attack and to figure out what the heck had just happened. Pretty standard.

It's always so explosive!! It's always out of no where!! But it's not every time. It's just most of the time. And it is really, really scary because they are both super athletic and they're king and queen of the spin and kick. Hooray for jumpers and dressage horses. -_- Are my horses fighting over me? How can I help this? I do have to go in the paddock with them to bring them in, visit, get them, etc. They're stalled across the aisle from each other, there are no other turn out options available, and I'd really like to not die. Suggestions, please?!

I'm very sorry for rambling, I can never seem to help it. :oops:
 

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When you are in the field YOU are the dominant horse, and only you should be issuing instructions and reprimands. I would take a lunge whip into the paddock and use it to enforce a 'no enter' space around me. Neither horse must be allowed to come within the circle, and you should drive one or both away if they start pinning ears, flicking tails, or in any way being disrespectful around you.

Time for cuddling and patting needs to be outside of the field, when you chose, not when they demand.

They will not question why the rules have changed, they won't analyse your change of attitude - they will just fall into line, so long as you are clear and consistent and In Charge.
 

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They are being super disrespectful. I agree with the above poster, take a lunge whip and create a barrier in which they are not allowed unless invited.

It sounds as though you've been letting your gelding get away with this for a long time. It may seem sweet that he's 'protecting' you but from my outside perspective he seems over possessive and flat out disrespectful. YOU are in charge, if anything you should be protecting him from other horses, not the other way round. If one of my horses ever dared to attack or strike at another horse while I was working in close proximity to their body I wouldn't hesitate to punish them.
 

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I so agree with Rosie. The gelding is in charge, you are his follower and not the other way around.

If he went for any other horse just because I was there then he would soon have a short sharp lesson and be whacked with whatever I had to hand, driven away and the other horse caught and taken in leaving him to stew in his own juices.

You have to take command, put him in his place firmly and fairly. As Rosie says he will not think any the less of you and I would go to say that he will think even more of you once he realises he has no say in the matter.

It might seem hard but that doesn't matter, your safety does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thank you everyone for posting. Every time he has done this, he's been sharply reprimanded. He bit me once a few months after I got him. My hand got caught in his lunge at another horse and he bit my little finger down to the bone. We were in the round pen with two feet of snow, and I was so angry that I chased him for an hour with a lunge whip. I hit him once and just chased him the rest of the time. He's never bitten me again. I should mention that he is aggressive to other horses even in his stall, but only if they're my mare or other geldings. Other mares he loves. However if he's in the cross ties or walking by and another horse touches his nose to him or tries to bite him, the worst thing he does is flick his tail. Doesn't explode, doesn't even really react. He's never aggressive when being ridden, he doesn't even pay attention to the other horses. I've swapped horses with friends too and he doesn't do anything.

I did bring the lunge whip out with me last week when I went out to see them, because they'd been intensely playing and I knew it was a guarantee that he would explode at her. I forgot to mention that on her own my mare never does this, not even over the fence, and in with a different horse the worst she does if they get to close to me is slightly pin her ears and turn her head. I growl at her and shake her line, and instant ears up.

When I brought the lunge whip out last week he took his bossiness out on her, started chasing her, and she ended up jumping over the roped off partition of grass that had been over grazed, getting tangled with the wire, and jumping back out. Thank God she was unscathed. He, however, ran himself so hard that he was hopping lame and on stall rest for three days. Yesterday marked their first full day back out together since he hurt himself. I wanted to wait to put them back out together as he's still slightly off ( strained his fetlock ) but the barn owner was worrying about the grass in his attached run and wanted them back out. It took me forever to cool her out, even after two hosing offs. He had to be straight hosed, he was so lame I couldn't walk him, then had to poultice his legs for four days.

Do I risk bringing it out with me again? :-(

( He is in no/light work because he keeps hurting himself. She is worked 5 - 6 days a week and jumps twice a week and shows. )​
 

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When you are with your horses they should be watching you and responding only to you.

All of this other moving of each other should and will cease once they see you as the boss mare.

Horses rarely play. Yours are jostling for herd hierarchy.
 

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I've had some of this in pens with several horses, and I will take a lunge whip and get it across to the aggressor that I would not put up with it, and usually had no more problems.

Same way that a lead horse in herd would not put up with them jostling around it.

You are letting this happen, because you aren't addressing it, and it is going to get worse.

Horses know they can do it since you haven't done anything to put an end to it.

Take lash whip, and have a HCTJM the next time they do this. You also need to stop doing something with legwraps if other horses are in the area, as that is just asking to get hurt badly.

Part of handling horses is assessing your surroundings and keeping them free of the things that can get the two of you hurt, or number present. That means some things need to be done by taking horse out of pasture/pen and working with no other horses around.
 

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You should be teaching your horses to line up and be haltered while you are on the other side of the gate. Take each horse out and tie up a good distance from each other and let them learn to stand a good LONG time and wait for YOU to work with them. Then deal with your gelding and more mare individually. You are RIGHT to be frightened bc you are smack dab in the middle of a horse fight every time and YOU will be the loser. I don't let my horses misbehave with me, nor do I put anything more than a halter on while in turnout with the others. I can't imagine taking off wraps or putting on a sheet unless it's while my horse is tied up or in his stall--that is a foolish practice, so stop it.
 

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If you often feed the horses, then that is their expectation when you show up and your gelding has no intention of sharing his. I use a lunge whip and wave it side to side about hip height. If the horse fails to pay mind, it will feel it and back away. The length of your whip is the distance they should remain. When horses get to squabbling they sometimes forget there's a person there, so always carry the whip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for posting guys. I had no choice at that point to remove the wraps where he was. My barn set up is not perfect - It's in someone's backyard and I'm the only boarder. I have to make do with what I can. Unfortunately I often seem to place my horses comfort and well being over my own, and I am working diligently to correct it.

Tonight when I brought them in, I had only my mare's halter and a long dressage whip. Every time my gelding came up when I didn't ask him to he first got a nothing little flick against his chest as a warning, and then if he ignored it, he got a smack. I felt that was fair, since horses give us warnings and I was asking something new of him. After a few whacks he backed off and let me get my mare ( who'd been nervously standing back several feet ). I haltered her and headed for the gate. He bolted up behind us, and I sent her forward and swung the whip around in his face. He had enough time to see it and react away from it, but he decided to run into it. He then backed off and walked quietly behind us into his stall. Their pasture opens up right into his stall run, then into his stall then the barn aisle.

He decided to be extra aggressive when I fed him and picked up a hind leg all the way up to his belly, so I smacked him across the haunches with the whip. He spooked and backed off, and then stood quietly while I fed him. I HATE to hit him or any horse, but it's really getting so dangerous. I really appreciate all the advice guys. Hopefully tomorrow will see a marked difference, if not, then more whacks. My horses are on rough board so I feed them daily.​
 

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Although it might seem that the rudest horse should be made to wait, I think you will have better success if you move the most dominant horse int from the paddock, feed him first and then deal with the others. by going past him you are upsetting the order that exists BELOW you.

be careful. gates are notorious for places where horses or people get hurt.
 

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I'd be out there with a lunge whip chasing the snot out of that gelding when he DARED crowd your space, be rude to the other horse, or otherwise step out of line.

That is not acceptable NOR safe at all.
 

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Why could you not remove the wraps outside the paddock?

It seems like you had a much morse successful day. The gelding would have tested you more at feed time because he was not used to being out in his place.

I believe people really need to get over the 'i don't want to hit the horse' idea. Many similar issues could have been stopped before they become dangerous with a decent whack. I have no issues hitting mine within reason if they need it and they know it. This means I rarely need to. I can lead 1 horse carry 5 buckets of food through a paddock with another 5 horses. All I need to do is step towards one of the loose horses and they move out of my way. I know many members on here would be able to do the same.

This is NOT a dig at you but at the common problem with an easy solution.

Giving him a warning sign is definitely ok, it gives him the chance to move before you follow through. It won't take long till that warning sign is all you need, then not long until he realizes what is acceptable aNd what isn't. Kicking out near you is NEVER acceptable.
 

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Thanks for posting guys. I had no choice at that point to remove the wraps where he was. My barn set up is not perfect - It's in someone's backyard and I'm the only boarder. I have to make do with what I can. Unfortunately I often seem to place my horses comfort and well being over my own, and I am working diligently to correct it.

Tonight when I brought them in,...​
...My horses are on rough board so I feed them daily.​
You did well tonight. You are going to love having well behaved horses.

Just remember that horses continually vie for a higher spot in the herd and they will with you, too. Please be vigilant in maintaining your place. Also, don't be surprised if your horses' behavior escalates over the next few days as they try to figure out this new hierarchy.

No barn set up is perfect, and if there was such a thing some horse would figure out how to get hurt or make it not work anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thank you so much for all the comments and great suggestions, every one. I think I already knew what I had to do, but I have such a hard time justifying being firm with them in my own mind, even though I have no problem with someone else's horse. If they're rude, I check them and maintain that I expect correct, respectful behavior, and there is rarely an issue.

I rigged part of my gelding's run so that I can just let him into the run and into his stall ( after he backs out of my space and waits quietly without beating up on my mare ), and I can then halter my mare, take her through the field gate and then out the rigged part of his run. She's becoming less afraid and more settled. Actually I don't think she was afraid, she was just unsure why he was so aggressive suddenly. I think I failed miserably in my leadership for most of 2013. I had a very bad year, not that it's an excuse, and he decided that he would do a better job as herd leader. He has been testing me over the last several days, but tonight was great.

It's cold here in central Florida, and they were both spooking at nothing and having a great time trotting a bit with the wind gusts, but when I walked out to their gate they both approached calmly, with him in the lead and her waiting a few paces back. Once that is a regular thing and I need to check him less, then I'll work on him walking into his stall up his run, instead of bolting through it.

Thanks for the support, every one!!​
 
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