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Ok, dealing with witchy mares...

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  • Ok, dealing with witchy mares...

    You can reference by post below on "reverse heat cycle mares" but I have a mare that is a complete witch OUT of season and I need some moral support and or help...

    She acts stallionish and marish...never mounts her friend and doesn't act like she wants to, but when I bring her field mate in to the field she arches her neck and strikes out, today she spun and tried to kick me in the face, luckily there was a gate she hit first but broke my knuckle in the process..She squeals any time I repremand her and has struck out before at me. I never back down and I'm not mean back to her (if she squeals and strikes out I have a harsh "hey!" I make at her an then make her back up) but it is back and forth for 1/2 sometimes until she stops. She squeals under saddle when I ask her to canter, often kicking out, she is tight as a tick under saddle as well and has a hard time relaxing (though she can).

    We are going to do a blood panel to see if there is something else going on,... ultrasounded in January and that revealed nothing at that time.. sort of thinking that isn't the problem and she is just a cow.

    If so, have any of you had a mare like that? How do you protect yourself in the field and train them that you are the boss?

  • #2
    A lunge whip - and never ever forget to carry it. Use at even the merest hint of coming near my space.

    Also try ulcerguard - ulcers can make horses unable to bear being in their own skin and they have no other way of expressing their self-hate/pain.

    Horrid situation.
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    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Molly - She is on ulcer treatments now (we thought the same thing) but we just started, so have to give it some time.

      on the other hand, some times she is super sweet. I can give her shots and unblanket her over the fence (i.e., don't have to catch her to do that). I have a love-hate relationship with this mare because she is a fabulous jumper and brave as sin (I want to make her an eventer) and absolutely gorgeous to look at, well-bred to boot.

      She has a very VERY shady past at a rescue (to sum things up her past owner found her tied to her front gate on the road with her papers and coggins...) so some of this might come from a previous abuse past.. it is like there is a battle with herself.

      I also wonder if some of her witchy-ness under saddle is she feels "cornered" and we all know cornered mares can be aggressive mares... so it is a fine line between having her respond and pushing her too far.

      thanks for the lunge whip idea, I'll definitely start doing that!

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh how sad.

        Probably the best advice I can give you then, is that you have to win her trust under saddle. Put her in situations where she *has* to trust you - push her to her physical and mental limits and then hold her gently between your hands and your legs and tell her you believe in her. Get out of the arena - this cannot be an arena solution - and it will be a delicate balance to walk that fine line. Good luck! What an exciting and interesting challenge
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        • #5
          I agree with Molly. You need to use an encouragement stick. But fairly and judiciously.

          And check into any health issues that might be a driving force behind the irritable behavior. Just be sure she is not trying to rule your roost.

          Please note, what I'm about to say is not in any way intending to belittle your own experience with horses. I just am trying to explain a methodology that works for me and the reasoning behind it. I can judge you are a decent horseperson already.

          Regardless of her history, manners enforcement is a basic minimum requirement and there is no excuse for bad behavior under any circumstances. A hoof in your face would result in major reconstructive surgery at the very least, or certain death if the bones were driven back and puncture your brain. A kick that lands on your leg could break it, in the gut could fracture your aorta, or liver or spleen (all of which can be fatal, at the very least requiring emergency surgery). Take this behaviour seriously. She deserves to feel the consequences of these most serious behavioral infractions. A smack with the whip on the offending leg is a mere pittance and does her no permanent damage. The first time, she may squeal and try to retaliate, in which case you retaliate again. The second she backs down, you stop and drop the issue like it never happened. If she takes it up again, then so do you. Always drop it when she backs down. And never get nasty about it. One strike or 2 is plenty.

          In a herd, a dominant mare would never, under any circumstances, tolerate this behaviour and takes it very seriously, and so must you. A horse issuing penalties for infractions is very harsh. A quick smack is not all that harsh if you compare it to hooves and the power behind it. But, no horse is allowed to dominate or "discipline" a human. Ever. Human always leader, so act like it. But be fair about it.

          I have a rule and my mares know it well - when I am focusing attention on a horse, I am not to be approached and my personal space is to be minded at all times. When a halter goes on a horse, even the lowest horse, we are to be left alone. We are not to be followed or harassed when going out the gate. We are not to be approached when coming back into the pen through the gate. We are not to be approached when I'm giving out scratches and personal attention. I use a phrase that they understand "let me in" which I use for when I want them to clear off. Keep in mind, it is normal horse society to sniff noses with each other and exchange "pleasantries" (squeal and such, a lot of mares will mock strike or even full on strike even with a horse they know well), but my rule is this is to be postponed until I'm out of picture. That is my SAFETY RULE - my life depends on it, I cannot afford to make contact with a hoof (accidental or otherwise), so it is maintained without exception under all circumstances. What they do when I'm not around, I don't care. But when I'm there, I am who they pay attention to and that's that.

          Never allow a horse to put you in a position where you could get cornered, or caught between it and another horse. All my horses soon learn I can be trusted to enforce space boundaries and they learn to acquiese the discipline to me. If they are haltered, they are not allow to snarl at a neighboring horse for getting to close. They are to let me back the offending horse off. This is for my safety!! It is equally important if you're handling a fearful horse who feels threatened by another, as it is when handling a dominant horse who thinks they need more personal space. Your time means your rules done your way! Simple.

          Define your own set of rules. Communicate said rules as many times as necessary, as sternly as necessary, until they are well-learned and become the way life is. Be consistent about their enforcement. Be fair about your enforcement. Period. Your rules define your safety, so this is serious stuff. A horse will accept any set of rules as long as you are consistent and fair.

          I have quite willingly driven a horse clear out beyond the perimeter of the herd and kept them there! Actually, use of the encouragement stick and driving from the herd is the punishment I use when a horse threatens or tries to double-barrel in my direction - this only happens with horses that are new to the herd as my long-term residents don't challenge me. Isolation from the herd is a scary thing for a horse. It seriously gets the point across. They stay there until they submit (a horse's way of apologizing) and back down and then they are allowed in. When I'm teaching new-to-my-herd horses, they start to learn the "no-touch, stay out of my space" rule immediately. My safety depends on it. Each horse needs individualized method of discipline. Some only need a sharp poke in the chest, a push, and a verbal NO. And they get it. The more pushy, perhaps a bit human-spoiled attention-seeking need a little more definitive persuasion before they learn a more centered sense of balance.

          Once you have disciplined your mare, with however method you choose to make your point across (she knows your personality and she will KNOW immediately when you've affirmatively decided she's crossed a line), when she backs down, then drop the issue like it never happened. A horse lives in the moment, and so must you. Return your face back to either neutral or pleasant. Unless she infracts again and then you react appropriately in kind - I put on a glare-face and make strong eye contact and stiffen my jaw. Horses are uber sensitive to body posture! Sometimes that's all it takes! Then, when they back down, then I immediately neutralize the face, soften the eyes and relax my jaw. The punishment must fit the crime. Kicking is more serious requiring more serious punishment as-it-were. A lesser crime warrants far lesser reaction. A mare who thinks it's okay to double barrel you in the pasture is probably also pushing you around when she is in halter and you may not be realizing it - respect starts in halter and graduates to at liberty. That is the natural order of things. If it's not happening at liberty, then it is doubtful respect is happening in hand or even lesser so under saddle. For example, does she try to push her shoulder into you? She is essentially trying to move you out of physical location (bossing you). From me this warrants a sharp push into her chest forcing her to physically back from her own current locale, essentially moving her position and thus maintaining my own. A snotty look with flicked ears and head-shake is an attitude that requires adjustment with a sharp growl and direct eye contact from me and maybe even physically backing her out of her locale, until she softens. So, I'm just using these examples to explain what I do and my way of thinking. Every individual has their own method that works for them. It's not being mean - never be mean of course.

          When she behaves well, she is also awarded with a pat, job well done, and friendly attention from you.

          Some of the worst aggression and spoiled horses I have ever rehabbed came from coddling situations where no manners were instituted, and/or they were allowed to walk all over the handler, push the handler around, the hand feeding of goodies no matter the behavior. Some of the worst behaviour descends from erratic handling from a human who was the furthest thing from consistent on the planet. These horses start out confused, then become angry, and finally take on real serious forms of aggression.

          As with anything, the whip, or "encouragement stick", can be abused when used incorrectly; but, when used judiciously, only when warranted, and fairly, it's can be a tool. Even a snaffle can be the most vicious bit on the planet in abusive hands. It's all how the tool is used!

          A horse knows when you are not being fair and they will resent it and speak out accordingly, especially a mare, and fairness is the theme of life when it comes to horses.
          Last edited by rodawn; Apr. 12, 2013, 10:49 PM.
          Practice! Patience! Persistence!
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          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by rodawn View Post
            I agree with Molly. You need to use an encouragement stick. But fairly and judiciously.

            And check into any health issues that might be a driving force behind the irritable behavior. Just be sure she is not trying to rule your roost.

            Please note, what I'm about to say is not in any way intending to belittle your own experience with horses. I just am trying to explain a methodology that works for me and the reasoning behind it. I can judge you are a decent horseperson already.

            Regardless of her history, manners enforcement is a basic minimum requirement and there is no excuse for bad behavior under any circumstances. A hoof in your face would result in major reconstructive surgery at the very least, or certain death if the bones were driven back and puncture your brain. A kick that lands on your leg could break it, in the gut could fracture your aorta, or liver or spleen (all of which can be fatal, at the very least requiring emergency surgery). Take this behaviour seriously. She deserves to feel the consequences of these most serious behavioral infractions. A smack with the whip on the offending leg is a mere pittance and does her no permanent damage. The first time, she may squeal and try to retaliate, in which case you retaliate again. The second she backs down, you stop and drop the issue like it never happened. If she takes it up again, then so do you. Always drop it when she backs down. And never get nasty about it. One strike or 2 is plenty.

            In a herd, a dominant mare would never, under any circumstances, tolerate this behaviour and takes it very seriously, and so must you. A horse issuing penalties for infractions is very harsh. A quick smack is not all that harsh if you compare it to hooves and the power behind it. But, no horse is allowed to dominate or "discipline" a human. Ever. Human always leader, so act like it. But be fair about it.

            I have a rule and my mares know it well - when I am focusing attention on a horse, I am not to be approached and my personal space is to be minded at all times. When a halter goes on a horse, even the lowest horse, we are to be left alone. We are not to be followed or harassed when going out the gate. We are not to be approached when coming back into the pen through the gate. We are not to be approached when I'm giving out scratches and personal attention. I use a phrase that they understand "let me in" which I use for when I want them to clear off. Keep in mind, it is normal horse society to sniff noses with each other and exchange "pleasantries" (squeal and such, a lot of mares will mock strike or even full on strike even with a horse they know well), but my rule is this is to be postponed until I'm out of picture. That is my SAFETY RULE - my life depends on it, I cannot afford to make contact with a hoof (accidental or otherwise), so it is maintained without exception under all circumstances. What they do when I'm not around, I don't care. But when I'm there, I am who they pay attention to and that's that.

            Never allow a horse to put you in a position where you could get cornered, or caught between it and another horse. All my horses soon learn I can be trusted to enforce space boundaries and they learn to acquiese the discipline to me. If they are haltered, they are not allow to snarl at a neighboring horse for getting to close. They are to let me back the offending horse off. This is for my safety!! It is equally important if you're handling a fearful horse who feels threatened by another, as it is when handling a dominant horse who thinks they need more personal space. Your time means your rules done your way! Simple.

            Define your own set of rules. Communicate said rules as many times as necessary, as sternly as necessary, until they are well-learned and become the way life is. Be consistent about their enforcement. Be fair about your enforcement. Period. Your rules define your safety, so this is serious stuff. A horse will accept any set of rules as long as you are consistent and fair.

            I have quite willingly driven a horse clear out beyond the perimeter of the herd and kept them there! Actually, use of the encouragement stick and driving from the herd is the punishment I use when a horse threatens or tries to double-barrel in my direction - this only happens with horses that are new to the herd as my long-term residents don't challenge me. Isolation from the herd is a scary thing for a horse. It seriously gets the point across. They stay there until they submit (a horse's way of apologizing) and back down and then they are allowed in. When I'm teaching new-to-my-herd horses, they start to learn the "no-touch, stay out of my space" rule immediately. My safety depends on it. Each horse needs individualized method of discipline. Some only need a sharp poke in the chest, a push, and a verbal NO. And they get it. The more pushy, perhaps a bit human-spoiled attention-seeking need a little more definitive persuasion before they learn a more centered sense of balance.

            Once you have disciplined your mare, with however method you choose to make your point across (she knows your personality and she will KNOW immediately when you've affirmatively decided she's crossed a line), when she backs down, then drop the issue like it never happened. A horse lives in the moment, and so must you. Return your face back to either neutral or pleasant. Unless she infracts again and then you react appropriately in kind - I put on a glare-face and make strong eye contact and stiffen my jaw. Horses are uber sensitive to body posture! Sometimes that's all it takes! Then, when they back down, then I immediately neutralize the face, soften the eyes and relax my jaw. The punishment must fit the crime. Kicking is more serious requiring more serious punishment as-it-were. A lesser crime warrants far lesser reaction. A mare who thinks it's okay to double barrel you in the pasture is probably also pushing you around when she is in halter and you may not be realizing it - respect starts in halter and graduates to at liberty. That is the natural order of things. If it's not happening at liberty, then it is doubtful respect is happening in hand or even lesser so under saddle. For example, does she try to push her shoulder into you? She is essentially trying to move you out of physical location (bossing you). From me this warrants a sharp push into her chest forcing her to physically back from her own current locale, essentially moving her position and thus maintaining my own. A snotty look with flicked ears and head-shake is an attitude that requires adjustment with a sharp growl and direct eye contact from me and maybe even physically backing her out of her locale, until she softens. So, I'm just using these examples to explain what I do and my way of thinking. Every individual has their own method that works for them. It's not being mean - never be mean of course.

            When she behaves well, she is also awarded with a pat, job well done, and friendly attention from you.

            Some of the worst aggression and spoiled horses I have ever rehabbed came from coddling situations where no manners were instituted, and/or they were allowed to walk all over the handler, push the handler around, the hand feeding of goodies no matter the behavior. Some of the worst behaviour descends from erratic handling from a human who was the furthest thing from consistent on the planet. These horses start out confused, then become angry, and finally take on real serious forms of aggression.

            As with anything, the whip, or "encouragement stick", can be abused when used incorrectly; but, when used judiciously, only when warranted, and fairly, it's can be a tool. Even a snaffle can be the most vicious bit on the planet in abusive hands. It's all how the tool is used!

            A horse knows when you are not being fair and they will resent it and speak out accordingly, especially a mare, and fairness is the theme of life when it comes to horses.
            THIS^^^, should probably be a sticky
            "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

            "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

            Comment


            • #7
              What a completely awesome post, rodawn.
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              • #8
                I agree with DR. Dolittle and I also think treating for ulcers is a good idea.
                Last year my then 2-year-old filly struck me in the chin with her front hoof. Thank goodness she only grazed me and there was only minor damage like a big bump that I can still feel but it certainly was a wake-up call. She had such a bad attitude that she always wanted to bite my head off whenever I approached her stall and I think it was because she was both fearful and in pain. I've treated her for ulcers and hired a cowboy since she was too much for me and I must say her attitude is much improved. Still no stroll in the park but we're getting there.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rideagoldenpony View Post
                  What a completely awesome post, rodawn.
                  Ditto this.
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