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Great to ride but vicious in the stall & to tack? Jekyll & Hyde horse!

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  • #21
    My Dad had a track pony that wanted to kill anyone approaching his stall. My Mom ponied the racehorses horses on him, she'll tell you he was the best track pony she'd ever had, and was quite sweet and managable outside of the stall. But forget getting anywhere near that horse's stall without a treat. A peppermint or appendage.... anything would do, but you weren't getting anywhere near that horse without something to offer him.

    His story is quite sad, and I understand why he is this way.
    Before my parents had him, he was at a ranch where they bred rodeo bucking horses. He was an "accident". A QH stud jumped the fence and bred to a Percheron mare (or maybe it was the other way around??). The folks at the ranch tried to raise him as a bucking bronc, and he failed to have any natural ability. So what did they do? They thought if they physically abused him, he would become mean and somehow that would make him better at his "job" as a bronc. So what did they get? Yup, a human hating nasty horse, who was deathly territorial of his stall, but still couldn't buck any better. Morons.
    He was saddle broken and was purchased to be a track pony. Eventually my parents ended up with him after another barn just couldn't keep him around anymore because he was dangerous. My Mom loved him so very much, but he eventually had to go because he was a serious liability. He ended up being sold to another trainer as a track pony. My mom recently found out he was euthanized from an injury.


    • #22
      My 24-year-old TB gelding was like that when I first got him nearly 19 years ago. A total terror in his stall -- until you got a halter on him. Then he completely changed personalities. It's as if he needed to make the connection via a halter (or bridle). He and I came to an agreement - he could protect his space all he wanted ... but he was NOT allowed to bite or kick out. He could pin his ears and lunge but he had to respect my space. (He was the same way when he lived in a large paddock or a pipe corral - whatever was his "home" warranted his behavior (in his mind). No one could stop outside his stall door, either, or he'd practically climb out to get at them.

      Over the years, however, he began to mellow out although he's still cranky in his space. Scares the heck out of new people who work at the barn until they learn he's all bluff. I had one trainer years ago who wanted to "beat" it out of him. My next trainer's attitude was, "Does it keep him from jumping eight perfect fences in the hunter ring? Then who cares?"
      R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

      Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


      • #23
        This might sound strange, but maybe try bringing treats with you when you go to her stall, and start visiting her stall more often, not always entering it, but always bringing her a treat (for a while), so she starts to get a very positive association with you visiting her stall. I had a horse who had been tacked up in his stall regularly by a not-so-nice groom, and he had very similar behavior when I first acquired him. It took a lot of work, and I moved very slowly (only haltering him from outside the stall at first), but positive association, patience and then praise and positive reinforcement for good behavior worked wonders. In his case positive punishment was counter productive and would only start a fight, as his behavior was reactionary from previous abuse. Usually horses are like this not because they're impossible, but because none of their previous owners were patient enough to put in the required time and effort to fix the problem.


        • #24
          One of mares is somewhat like this. She wants left alone in her stall, but the second you climb under the webbing she quits. So for the most part it's ignored because otherwise you'll make the situation worse. You can do anything you wish with her in the stall without a halter. But if you want hang out at the front of her stall she let's you know it's not happening. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. Very easy in every other respect.

          COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

          "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


          • #25
            PS. Potato worked for me but much later, we bought a pony who, while not evil, was nevertheless, very cranky tacking up. An osteopath checked her out, did an internal, & found a twisted ovary. A little 'manipulation' and she literally changed in an instant. Sometimes it's a very simple thing that causes the biggest problems.


            • #26
              My mare had a lot of moments like this when I got her and has since let it go. I went with a very literal "Carrot or Stick" approach. Instead of going into her stall to get her, I'd say hello at the door and give her a treat when she came to meet me. Tacking & untacking were done in the exact same order every time. If she pinned her ears or threatened to kick, I'd correct with a minimum of drama and treat as soon as she volunteered the desired behavior.

              At the beginning, there were a few days where tacking took close to an hour but the fact that bad behavior never changed what happened next but good behavior drove the flow of treats made a huge difference. Once she got that I really was more stubborn than her and that she couldn't get me worked out, she got better pretty quickly. At this point, she gets 1 treat when we put her girth on and is really easy to work around. Good luck!


              • #27
                Some horses require professional level handling, by experienced horsemen, and that's that. Sounds like this horse is one of them. Never let your guard down, and exercise extreme caution when others are in the barn. You never want to take this type of horse for granted--doing so is how people get hurt.
                Inner Bay Equestrian


                • #28
                  Originally posted by M. O'Connor View Post
                  Some horses require professional level handling, by experienced horsemen, and that's that. Sounds like this horse is one of them. Never let your guard down, and exercise extreme caution when others are in the barn. You never want to take this type of horse for granted--doing so is how people get hurt.
                  best advice yet.


                  • #29
                    Yes, I have a wonderful mare who was exactly like that when I bought her. Her stall was her domain. In halter, in hand or under saddle she was perfect, completely business like, a fabulous horse. At first I could not even walk in her stall, but she would come to the door and let me halter her for a treat. She was also tricky to groom and tack up unless she was cross-tied; she would try repeatedly to bite. I have had her for 10 years and all of that is history. The first time she tried to bite me while I was grooming her, she swung around to bite (she missed me, don't know if it was on purpose or not) and then she immediately flung her head up and away from me and something in me clicked, I realized that she had been beaten, probably on the head, for biting in the past, but I also realized that she had a fight to the death mentality, and beatings were not going to change her. I'm not sure why that clicked in me, I usually have a zero tolerance policy for things like biting. Anyway instead of hitting her, I just placed my left hand on her neck and continued grooming her with my right hand. She was totally confused by this, she was sooo ready for a fight. She stared at me out of the corner of her eye the entire time and it was as if I could hear her thinking "uh, this is strange, why is the person not fighting with me, what the heck do I do now?" anyway, I used this this non aggressive approach to each of her issues (food defensiveness, grooming and girthy-ness.) Now I have this fabulous horse that just yesterday I was able to groom and tack up while she stood loose in her stall munching hay.

                    Please don't mistake me for one of those butterfly and rainbows types...I have another horse, a gelding, who occasionally misbehaves in the cross-ties, and with him it is one strong smack on the chest with a crop and he stands like a perfect angel. My philosophy is that I want to have enough tools in my tool box that I don't have to approach every problem the same way, and that I take the time to assess each horse and have the skill to approach it in the optimal manner considering their temperament and abilities.

                    Sounds like you have a good horse and I am betting that time and patience will get you there.


                    • #30
                      I would look for girlie issues if the ulcer meds don't help..... PMS turns me into a raving beotch ;-)


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by kasjordan View Post
                        I would look for girlie issues if the ulcer meds don't help..... PMS turns me into a raving beotch ;-)
                        Not trying to be argumentative but in my experience when behavior issues are related to "girlie" issues, they occur under saddle as well as on the ground, if these issues don't present under saddle I would lean strongly to behavioral roots vs medical. Just my nickels worth....


                        • #32
                          I feel your pain and think you are on the right track! I had a mare that could be this one's twin based on behavior! She was wonderful to ride but downright dangerous in a stall and occasionally tacking up. More people had teethmark scars from her. I used to take in/train problem/aggressive horses. I got her this way as an 8-year old and after a month of thinking it was a simple respect problem I decided I had to change up my usual routine. First I had her scoped. Mild ulcers so I did a full treatment and threw her out for 24/7 board. I gave her 6 weeks off from riding and worked her in the pasture as if she were a foal in basic training. We worked on self-faltering, space respect, proper leading and my secret weapon...the relax and lower your head cue. It works like telling a dog to sit. If a horses head is below it's withers it comes out of fight/flight mode. Simply put a horse in fear/aggression will lift it's head up high in preparation to run/attack. If the head and neck lower in a relaxed fashion it tricks the horses body to thinking it's relaxed. I use it for fearful horses in hand and under saddle.

                          So I now had a ulcer-treated horse who had excellent ground manners in pasture and lowered her head and left it there on cue. I led her to the barn for the first time in 6 weeks. I led her into her stall, did her relax cue and walked her out of it. Repeated several times a day until she showed no reaction and responded perfectly. Then I started to use her relax cue and (on a long lunge line) back out of the stall and re-enter while she stood relaxed in there. Treated for staying calm when I got back to her. Repeated multiple times over several days until I could put her in the stall and walk out, count to 30, then come back in. Lots of praise and treats.

                          Then I repeated the exercise...still on lunge line...but this time I closed the door. I did all of my work with a dressage whip in hand and had taught her to yield haunches and shoulders to it. So this time the door closed I counted to 5 and she pinned her ears as I was about to open the door. I popped the lunge line hard (which was slipped through the crack in the door) and gave her a VERY strong verbal (AAAACK!!! which she had learned was my NO sound in our pasture training). I lifted the whip and pointed it at her shoulder. She backed up in her stall and I calmly proceeded. I reissued her relax cue and she lowered her head and took a deep breath. I entered and she maintained. We repeated this dozens of times until I could close her in her stall, disappear for several minutes and reappear. Finally, I added hay and left out the relax cue. I just lead her into a stall, kept lunge line attached and left and closed the door. I stayed away first for 5 seconds and built it to five minutes. Only one did I have a posture. I was allowed to enter the stall but when I got close to her hay she pinned her ears and cane towered me. I popped the lunge line instantly, gave her my AAAACK!! and cracked her in the shoulder with my whip. She backed quickly up and started licking and submitting in the corner. Repeated the exact exercise from start to finish several more times with no problems. Lots of treats and praise for calm behavior and quick corrections for any posturing or aggression. Never had a problem again!! :-D

                          For the tacking up we did the sane thing. I put her in the place where cross-ties would be but didn't hook her up so I could move her fast if needed. Kept her on lunge line with whip in hand. Began grooming procedure. Praise and treats for maintaining relaxed position. Built it up over several days to just standing there, then added brushing, then longer brushing, etc. She was great until I started brushing. She whipped back at me with bared teeth and I caught her with my elbow in her jaw right before she made contact, cranked the pungently so she flew to face me and went ape shot chasing her backwards telling down the aisle. She was terrified...which was good. I immediately stopped, asked her to relax, led her back and went calmly back to what we were doing. She was a humble bumble the rest of the session. We slowly increased the difficulty and finally graduated to saddling. I used twine to mimic a girth first. Same reaction so I caught her, blew up and backed her fast and hard. Went back and she was great. Treated for calmly accepting me gently sliding twine under her. Tacked her up. No more problems:-). She was an angel after this but needed 100% black and white rules in her life. NO posturing or aggression towards humans in the SMALLEST degree would be tolerated. Calm, relaxed behavior would be rewarded. Her tack had been checked by a pro-fitter and was cleared. Rest of vet exam was clear. She just needed to learn absolute rules. And I stayed prepared so my corrections could be swift and severe. I have very soft and kind training methods until a horse displays either bucking, bolting, biting, kicking or striking. At that time they meet the scariest creature on the planet...me. They are large dangerous animals and I want it clear that if you physically endanger me you need to feel as if your death is certain. The second I feel them hit pure terror I stop instantly and go on as if nothing happened. No anger or resentment towards them.

                          SmartMare Harmony from Smartpak is a great product top! Take her off high energy grains and put her on a ration balancer and just hay and supplements. I do this with any aggression cases I have. Just grass hay and minimum energy. It's a complete diet and really a healthy one. Keep us posted and good luck!
                          Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.


                          • #33
                            Yep, deal with one just like that, only a gelding.

                            He was a pretty badly conformed horse, but a quick jumper and always took care of his rider. Tacking up with a whole 'nother story, though.

                            As soon as you came near him with the saddle in the cross-ties, his expression turned murderous and you would literally think he's one step away from thrashing you. Same with putting on the girth.

                            Funny enough, tightening or adjusting the saddle in the ring prompted no response. He had a bad history, I was told.
                            Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars


                            • #34
                              Haven't read all posts.. just skimmed the first few.

                              I knew a horse like this once. Lyme postitive 1:40,000 and SCREAMING ulcers.. Poor guy had residual crabbiness, but it decreased by probably half once we got him proper treatment.


                              • #35
                                I have had 2 geldings and a mare like this. I got them young but they came with that in them. Dreamy to ride, ship, etc, naturally. Try Depo? Ulcer med?
                                Stay out of the stall and turn out sounds good too. I have been kicked, bitten, crushed, stepped on over and over. Don't miss it. I loved each horse and the meaner it was, the better it was to ride. I have a nice one at the moment that is a big love, both on and off of her. I forgot what feels like! I am so tired of being injured from head to toe!


                                • #36
                                  Recently, a gelding (I'm thinking 9-11years old) came to the barn and he is drop dead gorgeous...wow.....BUT, he is one mean SOB. (Guess he just won something big in dressage so he must go nicely....) BUT, go by his stall and he will lunge and bare his teeth (sometimes).

                                  Sounds like his previous barn may not have been too nice to him....so that may be the issue....BUT--he's just nasty...I heard this morning that he bit a kid that was petting him (rumour?).....

                                  With what you described I wouldn't jump the the conclusion that it is a mare or ulcer issue...... the issues you described are equal opportunity mare/gelding....depending on how the horse was brought up???? said horse may have had some (many) bad experiences.....and may continue to be the way she is...regardless of regumate etc...

                                  Just be safe! Don't let your guard down.... take care of you....



                                  • #37
                                    This is an ineresting read and thank you, all, for your thoughtful and caring approach to these horses. I believe horses are basically honest, if we only
                                    knew what was bothering them...and nobody suggested a Come To Jesus
                                    meeting which is always a phrase that gives me shudders.

                                    Horses need to understand their position and some need to learn they are not top dog, but in these instances the horses have something else going on by the sound of it... but what??

                                    I'll be interested to read if the OP's horse improves with turnout 24/7...and if she can catch her safely.
                                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                    • #38
                                      I may be off but here's some sugggestions. I've been around evil racemares, and been around some difficult fillies during breaking season. Have the vet palp/ultrasound for ovarian cysts, tumors ( vet will traq the bejesus out of her for this..) But, if that were the case, she would be witch all the time, but ya never know. Perhaps she knows she can get away with being alpha, territorial and now a habit. Timing is everything here. Horses kick eachother in the forearms, chest and belly. If you were to make physical contact ( I would) but be committed until she stops. I'm just going to say my gelding struck at me ONCE, I disciplined him, he needed it. Since she is agressive, then backs off, she's testing the waters....
                                      I knew a guy that with bad spoiled horses on the ground that pull that Crap he'd bite them in the neck himself HARD! Essentially acting like a horse. No problems after that. LOL!
                                      Eye contact can work too.sounds kooky but stare her down, put out dominant vibes speak angrily. Good luck! You gotta be the alpha!
                                      Karen Grimes, Horse Farm Realtor Ocala, owner Farm Tours of Ocala Just say no to snow! http://www.horsedirtforsale.com


                                      • #39
                                        Chiming in here again to emphasize that you can spend all the time you wish in figuring out WHY the horse is acting this way. But even if you think you have it completely solved, NEVER let your guard down, and be extremely cautious about who handles this horse. So many of these bad actors are perfectly fine when handled by horsemen who are used to dealing with all sorts of behaviors, but a disaster in the hands of someone who has so much sympathy for them that they forget where the line is between horse and human.
                                        Inner Bay Equestrian


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by M. O'Connor View Post
                                          Chiming in here again to emphasize that you can spend all the time you wish in figuring out WHY the horse is acting this way. But even if you think you have it completely solved, NEVER let your guard down, and be extremely cautious about who handles this horse. So many of these bad actors are perfectly fine when handled by horsemen who are used to dealing with all sorts of behaviors, but a disaster in the hands of someone who has so much sympathy for them that they forget where the line is between horse and human.
                                          Barn rat for life