I recently moved my 18 year old gelding to a new boarding facility. He is turned out in his own paddock and is separated by about 8 feet between paddocks so there is no nose to nose. He has always had great behavior with not many issues. He is an old " schoolmaster" type who does his job and behaves very well. NOT spooky and just does what is expected.
Right now things are not so great. He seems happy at the new farm but is now exhibiting some stallion behaviors and it is getting a little difficult. There are mares on the farm that are in season as I write this. He is prancing , calling, bucking, dropping, tossing his head and twisting his neck. His Barry White voice to the mare in the next paddock is a dead giveaway that he is very interested in her . when I go to catch him he doesn't want to come in to be ridden and tries to pull away from me to stay out with the mare. When I do get him in the barn he calls constantly and he is pretty deafening. He is jumpy and won't stand still in cross ties . He is usually very relaxed. When leading him he is hyper alert , jumpy and not at all worried about where I am. Under saddle , he is distracted and has started to call in the same deafening volume. He is usually all business and would never call out to a buddy . He even spooked at a jump that has always been there. Right now it is not pleasant to be around him or on him. He has become quite annoying to all the other ladies at the farm as well. When I say he is loud, i mean REALLY LOUD!! Also, when I return him to his turnout after riding, he tries to drag me to get back there. I am an older lady so this is worrisome if it doesn't change. He was gelded around 6 years old I believe but I am not certain. I know it was later than usual.
Will this pass? I am boarding so I"m not sure what to do about where he is turned out. I'm low on the seniority list so I can't really ask to have him moved. I love this facility and I'm trying to fit in and now my almost perfect gelding his become really annoying. Is there a way to correct the loud calling when he is with me in cross ties and in the arena ? Honestly it makes makes me nervous and makes me not want to ride.
I do know that he is new and just trying to find his way at the new farm but I don't want this to get worse. Thanks!!!
I'm not so sure that this is "studdish" behaviour, as much as insecure horse behaviour at a new farm where he doesn't have any established friends. Was he turned out with others at your old place? Was he around mares there without issue?
I would guess that he will settle with time, and with consistent, firm, and calm handling. The more he comes in, the better. Perhaps you can get someone to help you with him for a bit if you're struggling? A little extra control from a chain over his nose or a dressage whip to give you a bit more control on the ground may be helpful, and wearing a helmet and gloves when you handle him may be a good idea as well if he isn't being mindful of where you are. He needs to be reminded that you are in charge and he needs to behave, but getting mad at him for being upset will just escalate things, so try not to go there. Doing things he enjoys when you take him away from his paddock, like hand grazing or grooming or what-have-you may also help him develop a positive association with coming out.
As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.
How long has it been? Is he the type that would straighten up if you carried a dressage whip and demanded manners or would he melt down?
I don't think I would label this behavior as a "gelding issue" at all. We just moved our two mares and both turned into air heads for about a week. Both were screaming for each other, trotting the fence line, squealing at other horses, and acting like general brats.
One is rather bull headed and a couple of of times meeting the business end of a dressage whip on the ground and undersaddle was all she needed to get her act together. My mare is ultra sensitive so we did a lot of riding around the property and quiet groundwork to get her refocused and calm. Both of them settled in beautifully and by week two acted like they had been there for years.
I don't think you should tolerate this behavior but only you know whether your gelding will respond to a firm hand or gentle guidance. I think a few days of anxiety is normal for some horses.
I'd try to see if you can get him turned out near geldings, or maybe night turnout, if there are just geldings then. I don't know your setup, but most BO's will try to adjust turnout to make it work for new boarders.
I'd also try to get a trainer to work him so he is getting really worked daily. Excess energy will feed his anxiety. Make sure there wasn't a feed change with the move. Some horses will react poorly to certain feeds. Maybe reduce grain and increase hay for a couple of weeks until his brain settles.
My 9yo gelding acted like this when we moved. Turns out he does have excess testosterone. However, the behavior has lightened up over the last three weeks - he only grunts a bit when the mare comes into the barn for grooming or tacking (she lives out 24/7).
I did some research, and it turns out testosterone is also made by the adrenal glands, so maybe stress had something to do with the reaction. ALso, I learned that raspberry leaves are also given to studdy geldings.... maybe try that? (mare magic, or buy from a health food site for less)
Spring is a tough time for a horse to change environments, IME. Too much other stuff going on with new grass, less confinement, nicer weather, longer days, etc.
pI'd get him a male buddy and some pop rocks and humor him (without tolerating bad manners) for a week or two.
By the sounds of it you aren't really sure about how to handle his bad behaviour, or perhaps just don't have the confidence to handle it with authority. I would advise you to find a no-nonsense person to help you with him asap. Nip the behaviour before he hurts you. If he was Mr Perfect Gelding before you moved him this shouldn't take long or much effort. It's a case of insisting on the good behaviour you want and correcting the bad behaviour calmly, promptly and persistently.
It's okay to be nervous when your horse suddenly acts differently. But if you are getting to the point where you don't want to go and ride then you need some help now.