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

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

    Curious if anyone else has dealt with this and how they handled it and if they found the root of the problem! We are talking mega Jekyll and Hyde here...sweet as pie to trying to take your head off.

    Just bought a gorgeous big teenaged Hano mare with tons of show miles to 1.40m jumpers. Got a bargain basement price due to her bad/scary ground manners. I'm a private barn and am willing to deal with this and try to figure it out since I'm not putting anyone else at risk, however don't want to get hurt myself either.

    Rode the mare and she's truly a dream to ride. Had expected her to be grumpy and a handful but she's REALLY lovely. However in the stall...WOW! Looks fine and then you open the door to halter, starts to come over with ears pricked and then boom, flattened ears, teeth bared and lunges at you. But just randomly, other times she's totally normal and you don't have much warning which you are going to get. Not sure if she's trying to scare/threaten or if she'd really make contact. Will also kick the wall and strike. Not just at feeding time, though it's worse then.

    So after being threatened twice I closed the stall door and held up the halter outside the stall door window (has a full dropdown) and she heads over, sticks her head out and stands quietly to be haltered and then all is normal. It's like she's protecting her stall space from all invaders.

    Perfect behaviour in cross ties, comes running over when called in the paddock and stands quietly for haltering, leads great, walks on the trailer. But for tacking if she's on a single tie instead of cross ties (like at the trailer) she'll go after you repeatedly while being saddled, not kicking but with her teeth. When saddling is done she'll stand like an angel for bridling and it's like nothing ever happened.

    Previous owner did explain the behaviour though I guess it's one thing to hear it but another to see it in person, it's like Jaws The Horse.

    Going to put her on ulcer meds as the saddling issue but no bridling issue makes me wonder if her gut is painful. But that wouldn't really explain the stall behaviour. I don't know if she loves stalls and doesn't want her space invaded or if she hates the stall and is miserable in there. Or maybe she was one of these show horses that never ever got turnout. Going to try to track down previous owners and get more history. I've switched her to a private paddock and shelter, with 24/7 turnout, no more stall.

    So anyone else ever dealt with a horse like this? And if so, have any suggestions for dealing with it?

  • #2
    I haven't dealt with it personally. But having said it is a mare….have you thought of trying Regumate? It a small fortune but it sometimes makes a huge change.

    Hope your able to solve the problem.

    Comment


    • #3
      Honestly seems like they're just quirks and you're taking the completely correct action by putting her on ulcer meds (assuming you've already had a vet check, if not, get one out there asap). I do know one that kick stalls, bites, etc, but is amazing to ride and it is totally worth keeping her around even though we have to work around those quirks.
      Mendokuse

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      • #4
        Can she see o-kay?

        Comment


        • #5
          Might be worth a try

          I dont' know if you have a practitioner in your area but, if you do, it might be worth getting an Equine Touch session done on your horse (www.TheEquineTouch.com).
          I've seen some astounding results with this modality
          Hawkesdale Sport Horses - NZ

          Comment


          • #6
            I may be waaaaay off base here but I had a friend who was in a similar situation a few years back.

            Her horse was downright vicious. She lived in a "traditional" sliding door stall. My friend bought her a web stall stall guard so she could see out and the problem seemed to disappear overnight. Unfortunately, she kept the horse at a huge lesson/show barn with lots of little kids running around, and the BM informed her she had to take the stall guard down for liability reasons. Wouldn't you know, mare reverted right back to her old self as soon as she lost the ability to look out of her stall.

            Comment


            • #7
              My gelding was like that for several years. Just walking past the stall warranted him to lunge at the door with his teeth bared.
              He was right off the track and knew absolutely nothing under saddle but was always a perfect angel, no spook and lazy as could be. Wanted to please though and was a fantastic mover/jumper.

              We had one trainer that disciplined him like mad which just made the situation worse, my horse is the type that if you make him mad you pay for it (only on the ground though, never under saddle). I always ignored the behavior as best as I could, ensuring that I stayed safe in the process. A few times he picked me off the ground by my arm (left some nasty bruises) and he kicked me in the stomach but aside from that we stayed relatively problem free.

              In January of 2011 he needed emergency colic surgery and while at the clinic they switched his feed (he was getting a grain mixture, switched to Safe Choice) and ever since the change in feed he's made a complete turnaround. There were always times when we'd have to be careful with him if he was in a particularly bad mood, but otherwise he was great. And of course there were his outbursts where he'd be perfectly happy and cuddly and the next second trying to bite your head off. We've since moved him to a very small boarding barn, it's very quiet and his turnout has increased immensely, he pretty much stays outside as long as he wants to be and we've not had a single problem since with him. He's one of the sweetest in the barn, never see any ear pinning/tail swishing and he never tries to bite/kick. Still a gem under saddle.

              Ulcer treatment in my first year of having him (I've had him for 5.5 years) did help a bit but definitely did not solve the problem whatsoever. If he wasn't so great to ride and such a fantastic show hunter then I definitely wouldn't still have him (I was 14 and had been riding for a year and a half when we purchased him). His manners under saddle though are always what has saved him and even if he were still like he was on day one, I definitely wouldn't part with him because he's become one of the best horses I've had the pleasure of riding.

              Comment


              • #8
                We had a mare who was difficult to groom and bridle. Once you got on her, she was a wonderful packer. My daughter was 11 when she got the mare, and pony clubbed her for several years. Over time, the mare mellowed. After we sold her, the mare got worse again. She then went back to her breeder, and mellowed out again. We never did figure out what bothered her.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Years ago, a trainer used to tease our sweet, home bred TB filly by putting an apple thru the bars and then pulling back, every night for the 3 weeks we were away. We came back to a horse that would try to savage anyone in her stall. The barn crew were terrified. We left that trainer but needed to fix it. My daughter (10 at the time) was reading The Black Stallions Filly who had a similar issue. I borrowed a trick from 'Henry Daily'. I microwaved a potato, wrapped it in foil and put it under a sweater at biceps level on the end of a long stick I held in my hand. I began brushing her and she turned and pinned ears and bared teeth. I kept brushing. A minute or 2 later she lunged and sank her teeth into that hot potato. She backed up and I kept brushing. I left her with a pat and some soft words a bit later. It worked. She never misbehaved in her stall again. She would still look snarky if you tried to feed her thru the bars but open her door and she was a marshmallow. Sounds a bit extreme, I know, but I was green then too and No one had any better ideas..

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My gelding used to act like that in his stall. You couldn't clean the stall around him, couldn't tack in his stall, etc. He was ok for being haltered and such but would stand at the back of the stall while being tacked and grind and gnash his teeth at you. He also would lunge at people walking by but I think that was more because there was a fellow boarder who would feed him treats EVERY time she down the aisle. Once I got her to stop that he was better about that. His problems got worse after being on stall rest and not being able to go out. Hopefully, your turn out 24/7 will help and it won't be a problem for you. But if she's still biting during saddling I'd carry a dressage whip and just use to keep her out of your space. Not going after her for it but if she gets in your personal space she gets a pop somewhere or under her chin/mouth. May help keep you safer if she's still aggressive after the change in turnout and ulcer meds.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I used to ride a mare like that. I stopped after she finally did manage to kick me bad--and it wasn't the first time she'd tried to. Truly wonderful under saddle but hellish on the ground. The last I heard, when she sold, her new owner was a very authorative (sp?) person who did not tolerate the mare's behavior and snapped right back when the mare tried anything. Between the discipline and regumate, she became much better mannered.

                      My caveat about disciplining a horse who can be nasty on the ground is if you are not confident 100% (ah, I certainly wasn't at that time, and she towered over me to boot), get someone else to instill the manners.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I leased a gelding like that. Perfect under saddle, but had to be verrry careful with going in his stall and with grooming him. I would put a warning note on his stall at competitions because I could just picture a good samaritan going in the stall to straighten a blanket or something and emerging an amputee. He had been bought by his owner as a yearling and had this behavior at that point. The breeder said he had been like that with people since day 1. *Wonderful* under saddle, though, go figure.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've got one a lot like this- randomly agressive (you never see it coming!) but an absolute dream machine under tack. I never let my guard down still, but a month of gastro guard helped him immensely.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Purepony View Post
                            Years ago, a trainer used to tease our sweet, home bred TB filly by putting an apple thru the bars and then pulling back, every night for the 3 weeks we were away. We came back to a horse that would try to savage anyone in her stall. The barn crew were terrified. We left that trainer but needed to fix it. My daughter (10 at the time) was reading The Black Stallions Filly who had a similar issue. I borrowed a trick from 'Henry Daily'. I microwaved a potato, wrapped it in foil and put it under a sweater at biceps level on the end of a long stick I held in my hand. I began brushing her and she turned and pinned ears and bared teeth. I kept brushing. A minute or 2 later she lunged and sank her teeth into that hot potato. She backed up and I kept brushing. I left her with a pat and some soft words a bit later. It worked. She never misbehaved in her stall again. She would still look snarky if you tried to feed her thru the bars but open her door and she was a marshmallow. Sounds a bit extreme, I know, but I was green then too and No one had any better ideas..
                            I read The Black Stallion's Filly as a kid, also, and I always wondered if that potato trick would work!
                            I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There is a gelding like this at our barn: he can be very nasty in his stall. He bites. In the crossties, he is extremely girthy, doesn't like being groomed, is horrible about mane pulling, being braided, etc. Is tricky to mount.

                              He is lovely to ride, though, and is the one everyone at the IHSA shows loves to draw.

                              He wears a muzzle when anyone has to deal with him on the ground.
                              I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I had a track pony sent to me who was a dream to ride, but like to kill you in the stall and tacking.

                                2cc of ace at breakfast, 20-min and patience resolved the issue in about 6 months (YMMV)--- (yes, did the whole, ulcer, floated teeth, changed feed to add pelleted, saddle/pad check...)

                                is was simply learning new behavior. As able, I started backing off the dosage until -0-
                                IN GOD WE TRUST
                                OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
                                http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Keep the stories coming, nice to see I'm not alone in dealing with this!

                                  The problem is fascinating to me as far as trying to figure out the psychology of it. Not sure if she hates the stall or loves it. I was joking with my daughter after riding her that I love my new horse...when she's not trying to kill me!

                                  I've had horses grumpy to tack but she's REALLY angry. The stall thing I've not really seen before. She does respond to a raised voice and backs off a bit but if you raise your hand like you might discipline her physically she will challenge you and become more angry and aggressive. In the stall it wasn't just the nasty faces but she would lunge forward very suddenly, while striking out with one front and snaking the head at you with bared teeth. But she seems to stop short of really trying to make physical contact, it appears (thus far anyway) to be trying to scare/threaten you.

                                  I feel a bit sorry for her as I suspect she's been passed through a lot of hands and probably mistreated. At some point something happened to her to start this behaviour as she can really be so sweet most of the time. But I'm not into getting hurt and will never let my guard down around her!

                                  I'm trying to be super nice to her when she's being nice in return, and just raising my voice and watching my back when she's not (well I don't actually turn my back to her LOL).

                                  My big concern is at one day shows when we don't have a stall and I will have to tack at the trailer.

                                  Hopefully the ulcer meds and 24/7 turnout will help and I'll get some insights into how best to manage her. And yes Regumate will probably be in order in the spring.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    quote> My big concern is at one day shows when we don't have a stall and I will have to tack at the trailer.


                                    Its just a one day show... make sure your pads are comfortable and for starters, just go tacked. That way too, you arent adding anything negative to associate with going to shows.
                                    IN GOD WE TRUST
                                    OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
                                    http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Maybe she had a previous owner who tacked her up with stirrups loose and they banged her in the back with every tack up. Or they were short and smooshed the saddle against her. I, too, would hate a saddle being raised over me until it was firmly on with no chance of spine-banging in her shoes.

                                      Maybe she was abused in her stall. Could be why she gets aggressive in there and not other places.

                                      It sounds like your best bet at this point is to just halter her over the door, tack her on cross ties, and in the mean time see what she likes in life. Get a medical eval. Massage, chiro, acupuncture, whatever floats her boat that your wallet can afford.

                                      And when it comes time for shows... arrive tacked up. Or see if you can sneak some cross-ties.

                                      Maybe when you're coming to the barn you can do some operant conditioning and jingle a bell or whistle or something before you stand by the door to halter her. Teach her to associate your whistling with only being haltered to go out, nothing else. Maybe one day you can graduate to whistling and haltering her in the stall. You mentioned you never know which horse you're going to get in the stall... maybe she she doesn't quite know what she's in for when a human enters her stall.

                                      But definitely look into pain if she's a witch for saddling all the time. It won't necessarily change the other stuff, but it could.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The lady who owns my barn has a mare like this. She was always aggressive in the stall, but it was particularly worse at feeding time. She would snake her head and lunge with ears pinned too. She was not great about being tacked up either - cross ties were the way to go with her.

                                        Since the BO is also the feeder most of the time, she started feeding this horse last and keeping a halter and lead rope on her and standing there with her in the stall while she ate. She got corrected quickly if she acted nasty and then, slowly but surely, she started getting used to it. Then, the BO started touching her while she was eating (on her neck, scratching her withers, etc. etc.) and she learned to tolerate that too. Now, she is much better in the stall, but I never take my eyes off her if I help out at feeding/bringing in time. Man, can she make some nasty faces!!

                                        I don't know that you can ever "cure" one of this problem, but you can definitely make it safe for you. I would pick the battle about the tacking up with the single tie before I battled the stall issue, if I were you. Maybe the two are connected in some way?

                                        Good Luck!
                                        ALP
                                        "The Prince" aka Front Row
                                        Cavalier Manor

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