Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One mean son of a bugger!

Any tips on what to do with a mean horse.  He wasn't always mean.  It seems that my little mini that returned home has brought this out in him.  I understand pecking order but he seems to be out to get him not just putting him in his place.  I think one issue is that their stalls need to be completely divided.  Right now he can reach over the top into the mini's stall.  None of my other horses in those stalls have been out right mean so it hasn't been an issue in the past.  Today he reached over grabed the Mini's (Snappy) forelock and tore out a huge chunck of hair, ouch.

The problem horse is Moonlight, my daughters horse.  He is actually being a huge problem in general. He used to be very sweet but has recently turned into Dr. Jekyll.  He has always been pushy on the ground but I knew that we could train that out of him.  He is getting better in that respect but not yet to the point where I would trust him with my 7 year old.  Who's horse he is supposed to be.  Then his pawing habit is TERRIBLE.  It drives me bananas.  I am having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get that issue out of him.  Then the mean streak.  He is really getting on my last nerve and I am really considering getting rid of him BUT I love being able to go on trail rides with other adults.  It is so nice to call up a friend and take them out on the trails.  He is a wonderful trail horse for a beginner.  So he has that going for him.  He is a follower so he always just tags right along.  Has no problem with water or anything else on a trail.   Except he is such a follower he cannot lead but Steady and I happily take the lead.

He is my problem child and he is driving me nuts.  I was thinking of taking him and Snappy out on a trail together with the thinking that might help them bond a little.   I don't know though.  I have ALWAYS been able to take a horse and teach them wonderful ground manners.  All of my horses have respect for me and my space but they each would follow me like a puppy dog.  They all trust me to the point of being able to run at them flailing my hands and they will just stand there (probably thinking "what is with this lady and her crazy fits)  So I know I can handle his problems but some of these are new and he is very persistent.  He is 8 and we just got him a few months ago so he has been aloud to get away with these things for a looooong time. 

I will take any tips on retraining the issues.  My advice to all horse owners, don't let your horse walk all over you.  You may think you are trying to be nice but you are not doing them any favors.  You are creating a life long problem that someone else is going to have to deal with and not all horse people will deal with it in a humane manner.  So in the long run you are only hurting your horse.


  1. Aw ripping out his forelock!?
    Ok, I dont know if this is a proven method or not but we had a pony at the barn I grew up riding at that was the root problem for many horses. No idea why? Maybe jealous of all the attention he got?
    Anyway, the trainer took the little welsh out in the arena on a lead line and had a separate person there to hold him. She then brought in one at a time, the horses that were mean to him. She would allow them to come in to sniff him and if they showed signs of aggression (pinned ears even) she drove them off. Time and time again and then it seemed to instill to the horses that the pony was the leader and to leave him alone. Again...not sure if it would work, but it did in this case.

  2. That is a great idea! I am going to have to give it a try, thanks.

  3. Wow. Poor Snappy. You know considering the way Chrome is with dogs I don't think I would ever trust him with a mini. Have you considered maybe he doesn't know it's a horse? My sister's horse was absolutely terrified of donkeys . . . but only if their ears were forward. Weird I know. I don't know how well they've met each other as far as sniffing or anything, but Kristen's idea may really have potential for helping (I don't know for sure because I've never tried it but it sounds good).

    As for the pawing I had that problem with my mare. I used to hide around the side of the feed shed and when she would paw at the fence I would spray her with the water hose (she hated water). It was only a temporary fix though. Now that I'm using clicker training I would suggest teaching the horse to paw on cue and then only ever reward if you ask for the behavior. A lot of times that will cause the behavior to disappear, but I've never tried it with pawing. Just be very careful that you aren't rewarding him for pawing. When you feed him ask him to back up across his stall or pen before dumping the food in. If he's tied up don't untie him until he stands without pawing. You get the idea I'm sure.

    Chrome has just recently started pawing while he's eating so now I stand at the gate to his stall and just startle him when he paws. Usually it only takes once. I'm hoping to get it beat before it becomes a real problem.

    Good luck getting him sorted out. It sounds like he's such a great trail horse it would be sad to give him up for problems like this. Keep us updated please!

  4. This may sound drastic, but there are shock collars for horses. It is remote controlled so that you can "mark" bad behavior without the horse knowing it is you. It doesn't hurt them (supposedly) but does make them associate bad behavior with unpleasant sensations. Similar idea to the spraying water method, but can be used in pasture or in a stall. If the other more positive training methods don't work, this could be a last resort.


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