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  1. #1
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    Default defiant behavior in young mare- YAY! Positive update! pg 3

    I am just getting ready to send the breeding contract in for my mare, when last night we had quite the little episode in the paddock. It seems she did not want to be bothered. So she turned her hind end to me and just about nailed me. This wasn't the first time she's done it,either. In her defense she has had almost NOTHING done with her as she had a career ending injury as a yearling. So I haven't done much, if any, ground work or even much handling of her. (She is coming up 4 yrs) I've just started that recently and she behaves very well as long as she has her halter on and she knows it's time for her lesson. Figure that one out! OK guys, please be kind. I have to admit I am worried. I certainly don't want another one who behaves like this. Suggestions please.
    PS- I bred this mare and I know her history. She has had nothing but love and good care and turn out. She is out with another mare 1 yr younger than she is. She is in at night. She and my other mare turn their butts to each other all the time; they are constantly competing for boss mare status, but are very bonded. I'm just trying to give as much info as I can here-
    Last edited by springer; Jan. 13, 2011 at 11:17 PM.



  2. #2
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    Since you haven't done much with her, this doesn't seem like particularly surprising behaviour. Most young horses test. Some make big tests.

    The fact that you have misgivings though makes me think maybe you might think about holding off breeding her until you're more sure of her trainability and temperament. It would be different if you'd worked with her a lot and this was a one-of thing, but it sounds pretty normal for me that in early training she'd start testing. You're just not to the point with her where you know for sure yet. *shrug* no big deal there. In another year you could do enough with her to know for sure, she'd be a year more mature and she really won't mind not being pregnant for the next 10-12 months...and you won't have a little niggling worry in the back of your head about the foal!

    The one major reason I decided to breed my mare was that with all the silly training issues she had, I'd handled her enough and pushed her outside her comfort zone enough that I was confident in her nature, confident that she was trainable...I knew about some issues when she was young, but before I bred her, I needed to do the work to make sure on her temperament. She could be a turkey at shows, and definitely we had setbacks in the training, but we did enough work that I was confident she wouldn't contribute a bad temperament to her foal. She had a great work ethic and did learn relatively quickly, and she was one of those horses who didn't forget her lessons. SHE was consistent, although as her rider I was less so!


    Sorry for the length, I hope you understand what I mean. There's too many nice foals out there going for dirt cheap prices to deal with all the stress, cost and potential heartache of breeding if you have even the slightest misgiving
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior



  3. #3
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    You NEED to spend the time on ground work with this horse to teach her to respect you and your boundaries! Behavoir is directly related to handling. ANY horse "wants" to be the alpha, some are jsut better at it than others. So if you ALLOW her to be alpha, she will be! Spend some time with her REGARDLESS of it you plan to breed her or not for your safety and others if for no other reason!



  4. #4
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    Can you put her in with an older mare or gelding (or two) who will teach her some manners? Keep in mind though that even if she is respectful of other horses, that respect is not automatically generated towards you - YOU have to earn it yourself via exercises (ones whereby she moves HER feet and not yours) and handling. Putting her in with some older horses who will maintain some boundaries however will develop her a little more and get the ball rolling for you.

    I am actually currently in a similar situation; 3 1/2yo mare not handled much whatsoever prior to my purchase of her. Only raised with love though and raised with other weanlings where she reigned. As a trainer I also see a lot of horses in like scenarios. You have to balance trust with respect - spend undemanding time (as it sounds you have) so that she wants to be with you and actually seeks you out, and also earn her respect via exercises where YOU are the leader (exercises that challenge her mind and re-enforce your leadership role - there is plenty of groundwork you can do!). Slowly but surely she will come around! Do not put her in situations (if you can) where she will test your leadership, but instead put her in situations where she is more inclined to follow and/or challenge her slooooowly with little things to start. I put my mare in with several older horses, two of which are very dominant. Since she has been in with them, she's found a few manners, so the rest is a little easier for me I tie her and leave her be while I work with another horse, and practise a lot of her moving her hind and front ends around when I ask (according to my body language, fingertip pressure, etc) in addition to other ground exercises. Right now, I am also pretty stringent about her staying out of my space at all times, though as of late I have been giving her permission to come in a little more, when she is polite. The best I can do for her though is put her in a full work schedule this spring, which will include both groundwork and eventually u/s work once I feel she is ready to be started.

    I had a gelding who was TERRIBLE as a youngster but is now a pet with kids, even, just due to consistent handling and earning his respect. Personally, I actually prefer the confident ones who challenge your leadership - they make for great horses u/s If you are having too much trouble, ask for some professional help - they can get her started/get the ball rolling, then show you how to properly tailor your actions to her behaviours. And personally, while I would definitely set boundaries, rules, limitations (such as, you are not allowed in my space unless I directly give permission, going through phases of "ask" when you ask something of her, etc), I would not punish such a horse...it tends to create resentment, which just makes your job all that much harder. Be assertive (give her leadership) but not aggressive.

    Sometimes it can take a bit of time, especially if you yourself are learning, but unless she has been something nasty from birth (which it does not sound like), she will come around with correct handling. She just needs to learn to treat you as an older and respected herdmate. Patience!

    ETA: in regards to breeding her, I am actually (fingers crossed) having the above mare bred as well, but I know from experience and due to the (wonderful, ammy-friendly) temperaments of all this mare's siblings and also of her sire that her current behaviour is just simply that of a young and unhandled horse testing and acting as she feels is okay (because she has never been taught otherwise). She is otherwise a real sweetheart and I can see she will be a great partner u/s. HOWEVER, I will be working with her LOTS this year prior to her foaling next year. Behaviours the dam displays will obviously be taught to the foal, so if mom is disrespectful towards someone or something, foal will of course think that is how the world turns as well. Nvm having to treat or wanting to handle etc mare and foal once her foal is at side if the mare already sees you as an insubordinate nuisance. So my advice would be that if you are going to breed her (as long as you are confident it is a young horse situation and not a case of bad genetics, the former being likely from your description), to make sure you can develop her sufficiently prior to her foaling, even if it includes sending her to a professional or having a pro help you for now.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  5. #5
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    Considering her lack of handling, age, and the fact that she is not in a subordinate position with her herd, I would not consider her to have a bad temperament at this point. However, I would not breed her until she has been taught excellent ground manners. If you think her behavior is a bit dangerous now, just wait until she has a newborn and you or your vet need to treat it



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckawayfarm View Post
    Considering her lack of handling, age, and the fact that she is not in a subordinate position with her herd, I would not consider her to have a bad temperament at this point. However, I would not breed her until she has been taught excellent ground manners. If you think her behavior is a bit dangerous now, just wait until she has a newborn and you or your vet need to treat it
    Completely agree.
    You need to get this mare super well handled, do the ground work, even so far as carrying a saddle and being bridled and doing in hand work.

    You can't write her off at this point but I would not want to deal with all the repro work and handling her newborn if she has no respect for you.

    In your position I would send her away to school (out of her element, it is amazing what that does for a cocky young mare) and then turn her out for a few months with somebody's broodmare band. They will further teach her the facts of life.

    Might as well wait a year and make sure you want a foal out of her.
    I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.



  7. #7
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    Default

    She just sounds like she needs a good lesson about manners...

    I wouldn't worry about it, sounds like a spoiled pasture puff. They CAN be cured with minimal work.
    www.EquusMagnificus.ca
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
    She just sounds like she needs a good lesson about manners...

    I wouldn't worry about it, sounds like a spoiled pasture puff. They CAN be cured with minimal work.
    I would agree. Just make sure you have some semblance of manners installed before she foals. You have approximately a year. Get busy.



  9. #9
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    Default

    I was wondering what the pedigree was. She might just be an untrained and spoiled horse who just needs some discipline and to grow up or she might have lines that are known for passing on difficult temperaments, since temperament is definitely heritable.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    I was wondering what the pedigree was. She might just be an untrained and spoiled horse who just needs some discipline and to grow up or she might have lines that are known for passing on difficult temperaments, since temperament is definitely heritable.
    That's part of the reason I'm concerned, Viney. Her mom, a TB, had anti social/trust issues with people but I bred her to Balta Czar as he is known for passing on a wonderful temperament. I inherited her mom from a friend who had rescued her from an abusive situation so I attributed her issues to that. But I now am wondering if my mare's attitude has something to do with her genetic history as well.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by springer View Post
    That's part of the reason I'm concerned, Viney. Her mom, a TB, had anti social/trust issues with people but I bred her to Balta Czar as he is known for passing on a wonderful temperament. I inherited her mom from a friend who had rescued her from an abusive situation so I attributed her issues to that. But I now am wondering if my mare's attitude has something to do with her genetic history as well.
    I personnally do not believe temperament is directly inherited. I think certain predispositions are inherited but, if not encouraged, the undesirable personality traits will never crop up.

    That you mare flat out tries to kick you is nothing about trust issues, it's a dominance issue. The problem is that she is NOT scared of you! Quite the opposite to trust issues.

    Since there is no rush in sending the contract back, I'd spend a few weeks "discussing" with this mare before making a final decision. It really, really does look like she just doesn't understand that when you walk into that paddock, you are the boss and that she better mind her manners.

    You need to have this discussion with her regardless of if you decide to breed her or not.

    You mentionned that she is good with a halter on? Why not leave it on? You need to find a way that she can no longer get away with such behavior. Once they figure your number, it can become dangerous, just because of the sheer size of the beast. Ask me how I know.
    www.EquusMagnificus.ca
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by springer View Post
    That's part of the reason I'm concerned, Viney. Her mom, a TB, had anti social/trust issues with people but I bred her to Balta Czar as he is known for passing on a wonderful temperament. I inherited her mom from a friend who had rescued her from an abusive situation so I attributed her issues to that. But I now am wondering if my mare's attitude has something to do with her genetic history as well.


    She sounds much more like one that hasn't learned her manners yet....one with a really bad temperment might well have come AT you with teeth rather than firing a warning shot (if she wanted to connect she most likely would have). Even those with inherited (or learned at mom's side) bad dispositions can be taught manners.

    And the comment regarding her manners now and later when she's a maiden with a foal....really, really true. I had a mare that I bought in foal. She'd never been affectionate and did some occasional mild warnings not to mess with her (which I wrote off at that time as being grumpy due to pregnancy...
    naive young thing that I was!!) so I didn't. She foaled in my round pen and proceeded to keep me out of the pen and away from her foal for 2 weeks. Scared the snot out of me to see her coming with teeth bared, ears pinned back to invisible and "get the hell out!!" all over her face. Finally, with the help of buckets of bribery, got a halter and lead on her to find that when they were on she was fine. We had a couple of serious "come to Jesus" meetings in the round pen (without her halter/lead on) after her foal was weaned.....I grew a pair and decided she was NOT going to threaten me. Great bloodlines and she did come around nicely so she managed to keep herself alive and got to have a couple more foals (all of which have been great to handle). Mares absolutely need to have good manners/attitudes as a protective 1200 pound animal can really HURT you. You can breed her and work on her manners while pregnant...at least you won't be dealing with her cycles while training!



  13. #13
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    Given the description and how little she's been handled, I'm going to be the big meanie and say that if you are wishing to 'blame' her behavior on her mama well.. I got a bridge to sell you.

    Shes coming 4, - she's outgrowing baby land and learning to be a big girl. And she's not going to improve her behavior unless she gets told to.

    theres nothing to figure out here...
    Either her owner teaches her how grownup horses are expected to behave.. or her owner doesn't. This isn't a horse probelm, this is an owner problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by springer View Post
    In her defense she has had almost NOTHING done with her as she had a career ending injury as a yearling. So I haven't done much, if any, ground work or even much handling of her.
    Not trying to start a fight here, but this statement is telling. All horses resort to typical herd behavior if the "herd leader," (i.e., you), doesn't establish desireable behavior. She's the boss in her environment because nobody has told her differently.

    She's just doing what horses do...I wouldn't read anything else into it.



  15. #15
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    Springer, my young mare demonstrated this same sort of behavior. I didn't breed her, but bought her as a 2 year old unhandled and completely spoiled. She had no boundaries, was bossy, and struck out at me once. I did breed her, she had a very nice filly, and then off she went to training. When her trainer first started to work with her, she was a nightmare, but only the first couple of times. Turns out she was just afraid as she had no idea what was expected of her. She is now quite a solid citizen and my trainer (who loves her, BTW) is starting to ride her and it's all going well. She just didn't know there were rules, but she caught on fast and likes having structure. Don't lose hope, send her to professional if you can. I didn't know how to deal with this (she is also a big girl) and that's what I did. She will be 5 this summer.
    Last edited by houserabbitz; Jan. 6, 2011 at 02:35 PM. Reason: Spelling.



  16. #16
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    Gosh, I've never had this from one of my homebreds, at any age, despite their leading a pretty free life.
    I'd be worried - but that's just me. It is so easy to have "accidents" working around big animals, that I do not want to have to factor in agressive behaviour.
    Sounds like others wouldn't worry much -- but I would.
    And I have seen temperament passed on. A friend of mine had several offspring from one of her mares - big moving daughters, from different sires. Though they went to different homes, I considered none of them trustworthy -- all tended to throw their weight around, and take advantage of their handlers. Unacceptable, to me.
    Likewise, I see my mares' temperaments repeated in their daughters (and sons, less so), long after they have gone to new homes, often after spending just 6 months here, and hence all handled by different people.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainechyldes View Post
    Given the description and how little she's been handled, I'm going to be the big meanie and say that if you are wishing to 'blame' her behavior on her mama well.. I got a bridge to sell you.

    Shes coming 4, - she's outgrowing baby land and learning to be a big girl. And she's not going to improve her behavior unless she gets told to.

    theres nothing to figure out here...
    Either her owner teaches her how grownup horses are expected to behave.. or her owner doesn't. This isn't a horse probelm, this is an owner problem.
    This.

    I am curious as to how her dam was under saddle.
    "Sometimes you just have to shut up and color."



  18. #18
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    Sunnydays I agree with you to an extent, I think temperament definitely has a genetic component. But it is also dependent on a variety of other factors, including environmental.

    It does not sound as if the mare in question is even exhibiting "aggressive behaviour". Rather, she is exhibiting assertive behaviour, which is different. She is a horse and is only doing what horses do - exerting dominance over someone she feels is below her. She obviously has yet to learn respect, particularly if she has not even been taught a decent level of respect within the boundaries of a herd. It's just a natural tendency of horses. I would label it aggression if she charged me in the field and had a generally mean and ill-spirited temperament in general....which is rare.

    Now, if you are lucky enough to know how to properly raise foals and/or raise them in environments and with herd members (and dams) that develop them into well-rounded (and respectful) individuals, then you will naturally encounter less resistance as it pertains to assertiveness and dominance as they are already looking for a leader and are respectful citizens ready to follow. If not, they have to be taught as such. If you raise your foals right and luck out on genetics, you might never have to deal with a difficult prospect that requires some development. But they are out there and they are not necessarily aggressive or bad horses (why do we insist on labeling everything??), they are just horses being horses who need to be taught differently. On that note, I currently own two horses formerly labeled crazy and dangerous who DID retaliate against people. All it took was correct handling: one, to earn his respect, and the second, to earn his respect but also to teach him he didn't have to "get me before I got him", because I wasn't going to punish or hurt him. The former has spent the past couple of years teaching kids to ride (I intend to make him my SO's daughter's horse, he is that trustworthy) and the latter is one of my up-and-comer jumpers - since I am currently out of town working, he is being ridden by an 11yo novice and her novice father, nevermind trusting said horse with my SO's daughter at times even. Environment has everything to do with it.

    We can't expect our horses to be robots and automatic polite citizens - they need to be shaped, moulded, taught, and even then, still permitted to express themselves (within the confines of polite and respectful "normal" herd behaviour).

    All this is not to say that the OP's mare's dam is not throwing the tendency for a difficult temperament - she very well could be, but what is "difficult" to one person might not be difficult to another because it is just a different type of temperament and not necessarily a poor one. I think the OP made the right choice in considering stallion temperament when they bred the mare in question and just has to really put their nose to the grindstone now in regards to working with this mare and making her a solid citizen. After that, they can relax and stop worrying.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ponygirl View Post
    This.

    I am curious as to how her dam was under saddle.
    Her dam was wonderful under saddle. I never rode her, but a friend of mine rode her for awhile- on trails, on the road, etc. Never an issue. It was only on the ground. Weird, huh?



  20. #20
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    ^ not so weird Walk into any H/J or lesson barn and you will learn quickly about "ground quirks." We used to have lesson ponies in the Therapeutic Riding program that we could put severely disabled CP (spastic, non-communicative) kids on who'd be led with two side-walkers for round after round of the arena...one of those ponies took two volunteers to catch and tack up (one to distract the biting end when the saddle went on.) No one in the program had time to teach the pony better manners, and it was one of our most reliable under saddle. We cut our losses and made sure two people were there to tack it up.

    A common complaint of OTTB owners is that the horses are impolite on the ground (mine was too!) I've heard a few racing people say that what they do in early training is just a bit different than what you might want them to do as sporthorses or pets. Makes sense to me. You can train the behaviors you want, but a lot of people just decide what they will and will not put up with.

    My OTTB guy liked his ground time to be all business, or he got nervous and distracted. If he was haltered and tied, a saddle and bridle had better be forthcoming with some clear directions on today's workout. He would be a real pest if you walked away for a while or just wanted to "hang out." He'd get to pawing, calling for friends...I hated spending all our time together "working on ground manners" when it was pretty easy to keep him quiet and happy.


    I mean, ideally, a horse will have excellent ground manners and that will translate into excellent obedience under saddle. If you're raising or training horses for sale, that should absolutely be the goal. In real life as an owner...sometimes you don't get to choose how their early training/life went, and you decide what you're prepared to deal with. Some people will say that certain behaviours are "always unacceptable"...which, I suppose...but you can't decide that for someone else. It's also different if you are seeing a pattern of ESCALATING behaviour, versus an annoying tendency that you can live with. The day the pony in my example would have reached around to nip a side walker? Guaranteed trip to auction.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior



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