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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have 5 horses who are pastured together. Two are mares and three are geldings. One of the mares (15 years old) and one of the geldings (20 years old) have been together for 12 years and the two of them have been with her colt since his birth 8 years ago. The other gelding (4 years old) was introduced to the herd 3 years ago with his dam who we sold 2 years ago. The other mare (6 years old) was introduced to the herd a year ago. They have all gotten along just fine, for the most part, with the newer mare being at the bottom of the totem pole.

A few weeks ago, the 8 yr old gelding suffered a serious wire cut and had to be stalled for a few days making it easier to keep his wound clean and dressed. The stall has a door which opens into the paddock where the other horses were so he was never really far away with only a door between them. After a three days, I decided he needed to be able to move around some more and turned him out with the others. The older gelding, who is normally very mildl mannered and never bothers anyone, went after him with a vengeance. I have tried multiple times with the same result. He is going to kill him or run him through a fence! I tried putting the injured gelding in the round pen to give him more room but the older gelding charges the panels and tries to bite him over the top of the panels. This goes on all day.

The older gelding is as close as you can get to the perfect horse. We have owned him 11 years and he has never done anything wrong. Anyone can ride him and anyone can handle him. Until now. I decided that I would halter him and walk him up to the other gelding and discipline him if he acted aggressively. BIG MISTAKE! Mr. Perfect charged the other gelding hitting me in the head and knocking me on the ground nearly trampling me. This behavior is TOTALLY out of character. Never has he ever show disrespect or thoughtlessness. Even when the other gelding was gone off the property for 2 months at the trainers, when he came home, they squealed and pawed at each other for a few minutes but then it was over.

Over the past year, the older gelding has reacted a little fearful of things when he has never been afraid of anything. We had begun to wonder if he was going a little senile but now we're wondering if he has completely lost his mind. Do horses get Alzheimer's?

Anyway, I just don't know what to do. We were considering selling the older gelding before this. We don't ride him much and he would keep a young or new rider in the ribbons at the show plus he is an excellent trail horse. But, after this, now I don't know what to do. I don't know if I can trust him.

Please help. Any suggestions, information, or advice will be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Hope someone has some good help for you. The only thing that runs through my head is if any of the mares are in heat? Could get some problems in that area. Hope others have better ideas for you!
 

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I don't have any suggestions about the aggressiveness without you around, but knocking you out to attack your other horse is totally unacceptable. YOU are the lead mare/boss or whatever you want to call it. You have a personal bubble around you that a horse should never enter unless explicitly invited. When a lead mare sees horses fighting in her herd, she will go over and break them up, punishing them. The horse might be perfect otherwise, but this aggressiveness is just the first step.

Candy and I had a seemingly perfect relationship, we got along well, she did basically everything I told her, but one day I was leading Candy and Casey along, and Candy tried to bite Casey, but instead got me. I still have the scar two years later, you can still feel the chunks of scar tissue under the skin, and it still hurts if someone hits it. Obviously she was punished for it. Over time, small signs started showing up. Food aggression started to come back, things like that. One day, she starting bucking. As soon as you put leg on her, she would buck. She would buck with her head way up in the air, it didn't matter. She was not in pain, just showing her dominance and saying that if she didn't want to, she wasn't doing it. We now have the dominance issues worked out. Luckily, I manged to escape this with only a scar and temporary back pain.

I would recommend doing lots of groundwork with your aggressive gelding, and working with a trainer if possible with the aggression towards the other injured gelding. Good luck!
 
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Do you only have one area for the horses to be turned out in? If so, you could separate a couple so that they aren't alone but the aggressive is away from the 8 year old.

If not, separate the aggressive gelding for a period of time. It would put him as the low man on the totem pole when going back, like you did with the 8 year old when he was injured.

As far as the aggressive behavior while with you, I agree with the others that he doesn't respect you. Do ground work with him to get that respect.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks you all for your comments. Please keep them coming.

I had actually wondered about a mare being in heat but it is a little early yet for that isn't it?

We have one large turn out area plus a 60' round pen and another smaller covered pen. We had started alternating (between the two geldings) who was out and who was penned up but have decided that the aggressive gelding needs to be penned up. He doesn't charge the panels when he is inside but if the injured gelding is inside the pen, the other gelding charges the panels. Hopefully this will help put him in his place. The other horses stand close by so he is not alone.

I had also read another thread that indicated that lyme disease can cause changes in behavior. Thoughts on that? He started getting jumpy about things when he has always been very calm. We wondered about his vision too.

As a side note (I hope it is okay to do this here): I used Vetericyn Hydrogel on the wire cut and OH MY GOSH the rapid and amazing healing is unbelievable! Within a few hours I started seeing a change. Of course prayer really helps too!
 

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I'm going to guess by separating them...The hierarchy has been screwed up and the older gelding is trying to protect "his" mare.

What did you do when the older gelding hit you and knocked you over? How did you react? That horse would had seen the horsey-gods that day because he'd have been within 1 inch of his life if he was mine.

separate the older gelding to where he is by himself.

Mares drive boys nuts...whether they have their junk or not. And yes, My mares have both been in heat already this year...
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Need to get vet to do some diagnostics here. Could be tumor is causing this, could be hormones are going wild.

Vet is best one to find out what is going on.
 

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I had the same issue years ago with an old Appaloosa pony. He was always pushed around then he snapped and went after those who bullied him. Those horses would hide in the woods, terrified! He was so bad, we wondered if he had a brain tumor and needed to be put down. After a year, he snapped out of it and was bullied again. He lived till the ripe old age of 36.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
CLaPorte432 Where in MI do you live? We lived in Marysville along the St. Clair River south of Port Huron for 7 years before moving to ID.

In answer to your question, I did some ground work to remind him to respect me and since then he has been separated from the other horses. I think a vet check is definitely in order if this behavior continues after he has time in time out!
 

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I doubt there is anything 'really' wrong with the older gelding. Herd dynamics changed and he is 'guarding' HIS mares. This is partly because you are running mares and geldings together.

In addition to that, an injured horse is frequently picked on an driven out of a herd. The aggressiveness is very common toward an injured horse. This is very typical animal behavior in many species. If a chicken gets injured, the others in the flock will usually peck it to death.

Separating the older gelding is about the only way to handle it or he will, indeed, run the injured one through a fence. Then, every time you handle him, make him back up and do it pretty roughly. Remind him every single time the you are the herd leader.
 

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CLaPorte432 Where in MI do you live? We lived in Marysville along the St. Clair River south of Port Huron for 7 years before moving to ID.

In answer to your question, I did some ground work to remind him to respect me and since then he has been separated from the other horses. I think a vet check is definitely in order if this behavior continues after he has time in time out!
I am in Southwest Michigan. Near Kalamazoo, About 45 minutes directly South of Grand Rapids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wanted to give you all an update on my situation. It appears a time out for Mo did the trick. Yesterday morning when I went out to feed, my injured gelding was the only one of the other four horses keeping Mo company by standing next to his pen while the others were all off doing something else. On top of that, I caught them playing a gentle game of lip tag through the fence. After witnessing this, I figured it was time to give it another go and let Mo out. Viola! Peace is in the air again! All is well and the herd is happy.

Thank you all again for your suggestions and support!
 
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