Equine Behavior Questions and Answers
The Question: Does my wife's gelding see me as a threat to his mare?
I am new to horse ownership and have what I believe to be a behavior
issue with my wife's gelding. The situation is this: we have had them
both since 11/14/04. We have not ridden either horse since we do not
have tack yet but have been with them in their pasture, walked them on
lead in nearby open space, and walked them in our stable's arena on
lead and off. Both horses sucked up tight to each other their 2nd day
since then the mare has been taken out for farrier, vet, and dental
work while the gelding was left in pasture. He whinnied, paced, and
bucked then calmed down when she returned. How do I correct what I
think is buddy sourness? Second, he has whinnied to my mare and
popped his front up roughly 12" then went down and looked at me with
his ears back. He did that once. Then this evening I was walking my mare
around the arena while the gelding was loose in the arena. He began circling
my mare and I at a prance, with his ears forward and his tail held high.
He snorted and bucked and then slowed to watch me. His ears swiveled
backward and forward. I hope I reacted properly - I stared him down as
I stomped my foot and deeply yelled haw. This lasted for about 10 min
then stopped. Later my mare urinated which seemed to stimulate him
again for a moment then he was all good. I interpret this as me being
the stallion and him being a subordinate male wanting to challenge for
the mare. Please help! Thank you! Sincerely, James Bloom
I think you have a few issues going on:
1) Your horses are quite bonded. Horses are very social creatures, so
they form bonds to each other. If you take one out and leave the other
alone, both will be lonely. You can help this by working them at the
same time, having a third horse who can keep the horse in the pasture
company, and insisting that the horse you are working with keep his/her
attention on you. You might have to start out with -very- short work
sessions (5-10 minutes) and work up from there. Also, I never
exercise one of my horses when another horse is in the same area loose.
It puts you in a dangerous position.
2) Your gelding is challenging you. You must - consistently - establish
that you are in charge. When he misbehaves, correct him -every- time.
If you let bad behavior slide just once, he will continue to try it.
3) I would really suggest you find a trainer who will travel to your
house frequently to work with you. Since you are new to horse
ownership, a professional may be able to help you correct some of these
behavior problems and make horse ownership fun!
The Equine Behaviorist
Do you have a question? Email your questions, and it may be answered on this site.