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Controlling an excited gelding around other horses

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  • Controlling an excited gelding around other horses

    I'm usually completely confident in everything on the ground. I work with this horse every day, he is responsive, he listens, he is respectful. I can lead him with a piece of baling twine around his neck (not that I do). We routinely play "games" where he must follow me around without a halter or bridle, turning on the forehand, haunches, trotting a circle around me, backing up, halting while I walk around him, going over some small jumps, and other things to gain responsiveness. He stands quietly for me to take his halter off before dinner, and when going out to the field. He moves off my aids, he lowers his head, he does everything I ask, I literally can't find a hole in this horse's groundwork.

    So WHY do I completely lose control of him when he meets other horses?

    If I need to walk him by another horse, whether the horse is in a stall, field, being ridden, whatever, the horse stops paying attention to me. He will stop right in front of the horse, arch his neck, flag his tail, and snort. If I can't get him away from the other horse fast enough and the horse sniffs him, he will squeal and strike out at them. I AWLAYS correct him as soon as he starts "posturing" around another horse. I make him back up, do turns, have him lower his head, anything I can think of to get his attention on me. Eventually I resort to smacking him with the lead rope, kneeing him in the side, or anything else I can do to break the focus on the other horse. But he NEVER gets better about it. The other day I was at a friends barn with him where the arena is adjacent to a pasture. I worked with him for 45 minutes in that arena getting him to focus on me instead of the horses grazing right by the fence. It took 45 mins before he would walk by them without flagging his tail, arching his neck, snorting, and jigging. When he finally walked quietly on a loose lead I gave him lots of praise and repeated the walk several times. However today it was back to the exact same thing at my barn.

    He is completely unresponsive to a chain over his nose when he gets like this, a bridle doesn't make a difference either. My next step is a whip but I don't want him to end up afraid of whips again (worked for a year to get over that) so I'm hesitant to bring a crop or something into the mix. I'm getting a rope halter and hopefully that will make a difference.

    Any advice? I can't think of anything else to do with him!
    come what may

    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

  • #2
    Is he turned out with other horses? Or is he a single horse at home?

    If he's a single horse, he might be losing his marbles when he has the opportunity to enjoy the company of other horses.


    • Original Poster

      He is turned out with another gelding right now, but has been in plenty of different t/o situations ranging from single turnout to a group of over 20 mares and geldings.
      come what may

      Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


      • #4
        Have the vet check his testosterone level
        I wasn't always a Smurf
        Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
        "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
        The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


        • #5
          I'd also check if he was completely gelded. He may be a ridgling.
          Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


          • Original Poster

            I've had this horse for 5 years and this behavior is a more recent development. He has been turned out with mares before and never tries to mount or acts very studdish. He is fine once he "knows" the horse, like he couldn't care less about his pasture mate or the mare he was turned out with for a while. It mainly seems to be new horses that he loses it with.

            I did think about the possibility of him not being completely gelded, consider just how studdish he acts with new horses, but I think I would have had issues with him before recently if that was the case.

            He is a very social horse and I think that might be part of the issue. I can't imagine he is very happy out with just one other gelding (he did very well in a herd of 20) so I'm going to try to turn out him and his herd mate with another gelding and mare that are turned out together.

            He does seem to be more obnoxious around mares but will "show off" for geldings too. I just wish I could harness that beautiful collected high stepping trot and arched neck under saddle. He looks like an upper level dressage horse.
            come what may

            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


            • Original Poster

              Just wanted to add he is 12 yr old QH gelding. No health problems to speak of. He is mostly trail ridden, popped over some fences occasionally, and does some lower level dressage. He is barefoot, sound, etc. We routinely ride out on trails by ourselves and he is fine with that.

              Any ideas on training to get him to focus?
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


              • #8
                Some tumors can produce an excess of testosterone
                I wasn't always a Smurf
                Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                • Original Poster

                  I'm just really not convinced its a testosterone level issue. Other than acting the way I described around "new" horses, he doesn't seem studdish at all. I mean, wouldn't I see some personality change other than this if his testosterone level increased?

                  I'll get the vet to check him out just to be sure, but for right now it seems unlikely to me.

                  Any training suggestions?
                  come what may

                  Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SAcres View Post

                    Any training suggestions?
                    Get him to focus on you.....do whatever it takes to make you more important in his mind than whatever horse he's interested in.

                    What you originally did was ok, but you approached it with DOUBT. You cannot have doubt. You must believe that whatever happens, you will eventually have the horse's focus.

                    You may have to resort to a chain thru the mouth.....as far as your questions about the whip, if the horse was abused, you may have to be creative with its use.....rig up a bunch of plastic bags at the end of a driving whip or something like that....the hors will know your intent, thus you must believe in yourself that you are not doing anything injurious to the horse.

                    Might not be pretty at first, but your approach is correct, he needs to get his attention on YOU.

                    Do not underestimate the power of your mental state in this. If you have an shred of doubt, the horse will find it and take advantage of it. You have to approach this in a calm, detached manner....no anger, just another day at the barn.
                    Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                    Alfred A. Montapert


                    • #11
                      Using a whip fairly should not cause him to be afraid of whips. Also, if he tunes out a chain over the nose, a rope halter may not help. But I would put a chain over his nose, and walk with a dressage whip (wear gloves) and focus on what you were asking in the first place -- to walk by. As best you can, keep your focus on your destination, with a little "jiggle" of the lead when you first sense him getting distracted, and reaching behind yourself to give a little tap-tap with the dressage whip if he starts to slow down or stop.
                      Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                      • #12
                        There are also ways of configuring a chain that are more effective than others. Running it just over the nose lets the halter twist, and the chain loses effectiveness. You may want to look at some photos to understand what I mean, but in racing, many grooms run it through the closest ring, one wrap around the noseband, out through the far ring, under the jaw towards you, and then clipped to the upper ring of the halter on your side. It distributes pressure more evenly that way. You may find that the first time or two you have to give it a good hard pop to get his attention - once you do then much lighter pressure will often do the trick.
                        Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                        Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique