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Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Sudden aggresivness in a male yearling


Please help me. We bought this male because he was being stabled at our barn but the owner was not properly caring for him. Because I love horses I was doing all the work but had no say. He had been here on and off since 6 months old but we did not purchase him until he was a year and a half old. I believe that his original owner was scared of him or just extremely rough when handling cause I could ALWAYs know if owner had been here when I was unaware. Every bit of the trust and respect I had established would be gone in an instant. Barn is only 300ft from home so it wasn't real often. I feed three small meals a day at 9am,1pm & 5pm. Approximately 6 standard cups at a time as recommended. Approx 3 weeks ago after morning feeding I went to town and did not arrive back home until like 3. He had lifted chain to where feed is kept. Lifted lid to barrel and was helping himself to lunch. Since that day he has just been the NAUGHTIEST boy ever! Only experience I have with a male is the other horse we still have. He was clipped years ago but even before was the calmest sweetest best behaved I've ever seen. I keep trying to tell myself Joseph (year and half old)is just beginning puberty stage or something as he is not even ready to be gelded yet but, he just keeps getting worse. Two days after he broke into feed he tried to bite me, couple days later he tried to bite but I had haltered him so I grabbed his halter said NO! and tried to calm him as normal and he actually acted like he wanted to charge me. I tied him up and just stood with him petting him and singing to him the song I always have to calm him and the second he calmed and got off rope... tried to bite me again. Since then I have tried everything, someone said to get a stock whip so I have and would carry it in my back pocket though I don't like them. That worked for about 3 days, then he seemed just anxious/worse even though I had never even taken it out of pocket. I don't want him fearful he has had enough of that and I realize he has not received the manners training Skip the other male had when young cuz he was born here and I worked with him from day one but...IS THIS NORMAL? what do I do? How do I get him back to my good boy he was. He has been just a delight up to that point. I just don't understand what Overnight got into him. Pls help me, I am just desperate here. I am afraid he will hurt me and if he does that, My husband will force he will be sold which I just couldn't bare. I miss my boy that I got to laugh with and love on. Please...

Horse is doing what horses do, he has learned he is running the show.  If you don't get a handle on this he will end up seriously hurting someone soon.

All horses will try these types of things, some more than others, but it is a pecking order thing and since no one is being the leader, he is promoting himself to that position.

I would imagine that you have missed many signs that he has been exhibiting to you, that are signs of disrespect, and now he has gotten big enough to force the issue.

Understand that I am coming at horses from over 50 years with them and have made living many years working with them, so my advice is sound.

Horses are not by nature inclined to do what we want because they want to please us.  They don't think that way.  They operate by who is above them in the herd, and who is below them in the herd.
And those positions are earned or given by buffaloing other herd members, which is what is happening here.

You need to put aside the thoughts that this horse has been neglected, or abused, that will get you nowhere.  The horse is not reacting to that, nor to that when you go out with whip, but your refusal to view this as an "up yours" attitude is going to do nothing to fix this.

My suggestion would be to rehome this horse, as I don't feel like you have the skills to effectively work with him, nor the mindset either.  You are too tenderhearted to be able to fix this I am afraid.

And while gelding might help?  If horse has already learned that you can be bullied, the battle is lost if you can't back up any corrections.  And I have seen some horses at this same age, drop over the shoulders of the handler, and know of people who have had their jugular vein torn out by a horse grabbing them in the throat.  Death, of course was the result.

If you don't toughen up, this will only get worse.  You cannot baby a horse, nor can you correct an animal like this if you let thoughts of "abuse" or whatever color your working with them.

Even something as simple as giving way when placing food down, signals to a horse that you can be "run off the food, thus this person is lower than I am", same with backing away at first sign of "fear" or continued aggression.

This horse, sadly, needs to be with someone that is used to working with colts with an attitude, and that knows what they are doing, and how to do it.  No animal is worth getting hurt over, and that is coming, not a matter of if, but when.

I just don't think you have the experience to deal with this, and you will be the one getting hurt, just not worth it.

Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

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Melanie Rowley


Questions relating to first time, or inexperienced horse owners. Other questions as needed. Questions on American Saddlebreds. Old fashioned training advice, riding advice for beginners, and general care questions. Behavior problems, with emphasis on thinking through aspects of problems that might not seem an issue at first.


About to turn 55. My father was a Saddlebred trainer, and I grew up around horses. I have also worked as a Master Saddlebred Show Horse Groom, working with Dale Pugh, Art Simmons, Sonny Sutton, and others. I also have worked with Quarter Horses, and Thoroughbreds on a mare and foal operation in Alabama. I have owned for years, and currently have two teenaged geldings. I also for many years have taught riding lessons, to adults and children, working with beginners just learning, and older adults who have lost their confidence, or wanted to get "back in the saddle." I was lucky to be around many of the best horsemen in MO, and AL and learn from them, and strive always to think through a situation and work to keep riders and horses safe. Those also include the many talented grooms, and farriers I met along the way.

Some college. General studies towards a nursing degree, which derailed due to divorce. Horse skills learned through over 50 years of watching, learning, doing and absorbing as I grew.

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