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chevygurlz712002

Good Gelding Maybe Going Bad?

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I am mostly a lurker on here and love to read and take in advice from others.However,I had a horrible experience with my gelding I have raised since birth tonight.

I do alot of handwalking with him on a regular basis and tonight I asked him to move out and away from me in a small circle like I have done hundreds on times in his life.Tonight he lunged at me barring teeth trying to run me over and maul me.I was able to regain control of the situation and eventually was able to get him to move out and away from me in a small circle without trying to kill me.

Then I asked him to back up and he again showed the same behavior,eventually he did back up without being nasty.

We then proceeded on our walk and he was super jumpy about cars passing him...not normal.He will be 5 yrs old in May and has been exposed to cars passing him since he was 4 months old.

Please,I don't know what to make of this.If anyone can give me any suggestions or input I would most gladly appreciate it.

Oh side note,once home I asked him to yield his hindquarters/forequarters and to back,he did this all with out hesitation.He stopped by my side fine,stood fine as well.

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That would be one gelding that was going to think he was going to die!

As far as what caused it, I feel like their 4th & 5th year they can go through a stages where they think they're all that and will try you in some respects a little more. It's like they become aware around that age that they're bigger than you. If any point in working him back and forth you showed any sign of weakness or uncertainty in your body language, he may have taken advantage of it.

Depending on the horse, pain can cause them to get aggressive if they're hurting and it hurts to work -- although even if they are in pain, disrespect is NOT acceptable.

Another possibility is boredom if you've been doing a lot of the same thing and they don't feel like they get a release for doing what they think you want.

When I work one like that, I ask a little harder and expect a little more to reinforce that I'm directing feet and I expect them to move when I ask. For instance, I'll ask for the hip over with my body and if they don't move it over with some ENERGY, I'll spank with the end of the lead or the whip. That way they know I'm serious.

Something I've used with aggressive horses that I like is a stock length whip with a rag on the end. That seems to get them moving with some energy without it being threatening or aggressive. They can see it and they'll avoid it. So if you have to keep one off of you because they've copped an attitude, it works great for that.

Do you think there's a chance he could be proud cut?

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I agree with qheventer...he should have thought he was going to die! I just yesterday had a similar experience with a 5yo gelding. He's always such a sweet mellow horse but yesterday I noticed him going around with his ears back and I've sort of seen a lead up to this, well I was riding and he suddenly called out to a buddy so I promptly popped him between the ears, he threw his head back connected with my face and promptly through himself over backwards. As fast as I COULD get up I got after him then got back on and continued like nothing happened. He was much mellower afterwards. (nose is fine btw!)

So I guess my point is you have to get upset with him for pulling that stuff. I second carrying a small stock whip and busting it out on him the next time it happens. You WANT him to THINK he is going to DIE...because you CAN'T have a 1000lb+ animal pulling that crap with you!!

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Some more info on this horse. Has he been mainly a barnyard pet? BY thaT I mean has he been treated more like a big dog than a horse

What about riding-how often, or is he broke?

Usually horses check out as to who is the leader in little ways, which become bolder if not caught early and corrected, until the horse has been getting enough of the 'right 'answer ' that he makes the bold move to establish himself as the number one horse in your 'herd of two'

DLT

I would not hit a horse between the ears for calling. Get his attention instead , and make him work hard at some exercises, while giving his face. If you wish to use a sharp reprimand, spur the hip around, a method I used on stallions that started to 'talk' to mares when ridden

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I do not think he is proud cut.I watched the vet remove his testicles(both) when he was 3 1/2 months old.

I did go back out tonight and work with him a little bit more.He was pushy but not aggressive in the beginning.He did walk/trot small circles in both directions.As for his back up it was very sluggish and when I increased pressure he reared and slightly and then pinned his ears and started to come at me.I then did whack him on his neck/shoulder to get him to move away from me which he did do.

When I ask for his feet to move I ask with confidence as I have for the last 3 yrs of his life.I have followed Clinton Anderson methods for years and my gelding executes what is asked of him almost perfectly every time.

I DID notice during round 2 that when I asked softly and with almost no pressure he executed what was asked much more effectively.

I am completely 100% baffled by this strange turn of attitude.

ETA:He has been handled like a horse not as a pet per say.He is very green yet as I had 5 rides on him last year and about 6 so far this year and it has only been 1x per week.Living in northern Mn doesn't give me many options for riding unless I wait for a break in the weather or get to an indoor arena.I THOUGHT I had established leadership early on in life...I have handled him the same as the other horses in my life for a few years now.All are Arabians btw.

He is generally a well mannered pleasant guy.

Edited by chevygurlz712002

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I agree...this horse would think for at least several seconds that his world was going to END!! While a lot of geldings will make that decision to test at about 4-5 years of age it is something that is simply not tolerable. It is possible that he's been "thinking" of doing this for some time and you somehow managed to give him an excuse (usually there are lots of "little" things that they do that we tend to excuse, especially when we've raised them and done all the work with them...we get comfortable and let little things slip....in essence giving them permission to try slightly bigger things and then one day...boom...."out of nowhere" they act out).

Doesn't sound like he's being worked hard enough to be terribly concerned about chiro issues and he's pretty young for things like arthritis.

The other possible option that comes to mind is a disease....generally wrong season for most neuro diseases but slight possibility. Rabies vaccinated? If his aggression doesn't back right up completely with a couple of corrections or becomes worse I'd have a vet check done.

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Doesn't sound like he's being worked hard enough to be terribly concerned about chiro issues

Buuuttt...crap happens out in pastures all the time, especially if they are pastured with other horses.

IS he pastured with others? Playing or bickering can lead to mishaps. I had one mare knock another into the post of their run-in and dislocate her hip/sacrum(can't rememebr which, now :ashamed0002: ). Yugh. Stuff happens. (Called my chiro right away and he put her back right as rain! Sound again within a week.)

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Call me ignorant...but I never knew that there was a possibility he or any horse would test someone around this age to this degree! I DID notice a couple weeks ago when I was feeding the herd(he's pastured w/4 others)that he was getting very close to me and bumped me hard with his shoulder.I didn't put much thought into it.NOW I wonder if this was a prelude to this attitude change last night.

I don't know that I honestly think he has chiro issues or whatnot.After he was put away tonight I seen him bucking and playing with the yearling in the pasture with him.I have a wide range of ages all pastured together...from 26 to 1 and the gelding that I am referring to is 5 and gets pushed around by the yearling filly.

I am going to continue to work with him every evening and hopefully see some positive changes...if not,I honestly don't know how I am going to handle this one.

Thanks everyone for your input on this issue thus far.

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Hindsight YES I should NOT have tapped him on the head (even as lightly as I did) because he wasn't paying attention and I startled him, I've only ridden this particular horse a few times and I did exactly as I would do to my gelding in the same situation, although I would have simply tapped my geldings neck but this guy is a Saddlebred and so his head was much closer than my geldings. I do however think some good came of it because it was so dramatic he may actually think twice about calling out again in the future. He's super green and doesn't yet understand how to move off of leg pressure, nor do I use spurs on him as he'd probably jump right out of his skin. He was at another trainer who tried unsuccessfully to gait him so he's very very very sensitive mentally and physically.

To the OP - I hope you have some luck...just don't give up!

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Call me ignorant...but I never knew that there was a possibility he or any horse would test someone around this age to this degree! I DID notice a couple weeks ago when I was feeding the herd(he's pastured w/4 others)that he was getting very close to me and bumped me hard with his shoulder.

Yep....in the wild young males form bachelor herds where they "play fight" with each other learning the "hows" of horse fighting. They begin reaching mental maturity (thinking they are physically and have enough practice and are hormone driven enough) at around 4 or 5 and will challenge an existing herd stallion at about this age. If not quite gutsy enough to full on challenge a herd stallion they may prowl around the edges of a herd during breeding season and try to get to a mare while the herd stallion is occupied with another (about 1/4 of the foals in any herd will not be the offspring of the herd stallion due to this behavior). In ALL herds there is a pecking order...wild and domestic horses have the same instincts and the same general behaviors.. and it is not a steady thing...horses move up and down that order within their herd all the time. A horse reaching maturity, especially in a mixed age herd, is going to find his place...you are part of that herd even if you don't live there all the time. And yes, if your horse has bumped into you before he's regarding you as lower in the pecking order (NO ONE bumps my boss mare except me...'cause I'm THE boss)....and you can bet your boots that he's thought of it long before he actually did it. You need to establish an area around you that NO ONE enters without your invitation/express permission.

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Buuuttt...crap happens out in pastures all the time, especially if they are pastured with other horses.

IS he pastured with others? Playing or bickering can lead to mishaps. I had one mare knock another into the post of their run-in and dislocate her hip/sacrum(can't rememebr which, now :ashamed0002: ). Yugh. Stuff happens. (Called my chiro right away and he put her back right as rain! Sound again within a week.)

True....but didn't know at the time I posted that he was in a group pasture.

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Well, I do not think his age had anything to do with it. I just think you missed a lot of subtle warnings and HE DID NOT MISS THEM.

I think you ignored his subtle body language and he escalated it to the point where he told you to get the heck out of his way. These things have a way of sneaking up on you if you are not tuned in to their body language.

Any horse in your situation tries little shows of dominance throughout their lifetimes. Horses that are quite dominant out in a pasture full of horses are also more apt to try out their dominant body language in the presence of humans. Many people do not ever recognize the little toss of a horse's head or the slight backing of a ear before they move over or the switch of a tail. A good horseman catches the tiny displays of dominant body language for what it is and responds accordingly.

If I have a horse stiffen up when I ask it to move over, I will make it move 3 or 4 steps over instead of just the one I wanted it to take.

If I have a horse flick an ear back or shake its head toward me, I will back it up and probably make it do a 360 to its right. I'll make it move its shoulder over right then and there. I will probably speak a harsh "Ah"! at the same time I move it over.

If a horse gets 'pushy' and makes me move away a step, you can bet I will move it 10 steps and maybe do that 2 or 3 times.

I very seldom have to hit a horse because they have enough respect for me as their herd leader that I do not have to. If I had a horse dive a me with its ears back, it would mean I just got the horse an instant before or I had screwed up in letting that horse get to that point. Only a viscous horse that is already spoiled has EVER made a dive at me. I have had many horses that people brought to me because the horse had attacked them only to have said horse never make a mistake with me -- never even lay an ear back. They read my body language, too; and it tells them that I am the lead horse here.

And "YES!" This horse would have thought he was lucky to be alive if he had done this to me. It just never should have happened.

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Yep....in the wild young males form bachelor herds where they "play fight" with each other learning the "hows" of horse fighting. They begin reaching mental maturity (thinking they are physically and have enough practice and are hormone driven enough) at around 4 or 5 and will challenge an existing herd stallion at about this age. If not quite gutsy enough to full on challenge a herd stallion they may prowl around the edges of a herd during breeding season and try to get to a mare while the herd stallion is occupied with another (about 1/4 of the foals in any herd will not be the offspring of the herd stallion due to this behavior). In ALL herds there is a pecking order...wild and domestic horses have the same instincts and the same general behaviors.. and it is not a steady thing...horses move up and down that order within their herd all the time. A horse reaching maturity, especially in a mixed age herd, is going to find his place...you are part of that herd even if you don't live there all the time. And yes, if your horse has bumped into you before he's regarding you as lower in the pecking order (NO ONE bumps my boss mare except me...'cause I'm THE boss)....and you can bet your boots that he's thought of it long before he actually did it. You need to establish an area around you that NO ONE enters without your invitation/express permission.

I completely agree with coloredcowhorse on this.

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As always, right on Cheri!

Horses test who should lead all the time, and unless you make your position clear, not letting things slip, then the old 'give an inch, take a mile ' comes into play

Here is also another example where the old,'must be a pain issue', comes into play. While one should always rule out pain, a respectful horse does not become aggressive,even when in pain, and there are enough indications here that support the fact that the horse just assumed he could appropiate leadership, having 'tested' the human and found him lacking at times, far as clear leadership that has consistant black and white boundaries

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So given all this...should I go back to basics and re establish leadership? Become more aggressive in my handling of him?

Should I push him harder?

I don't want him to regress, but I also can't and won't tolerate this kind of behavior from him.

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Leadership isn't something you get once and then it is always there...it is earned with every interaction with your horse (they learn from us every single time we interact with them...and often get lessons we 1)don't know we are giving them and 2)wouldn't THINK of letting them learn if we were actually thinking about it) so it is an on-going, lifetime thing. Your attitude, your body language, your eye contact, your voice tone...they all tell your horse every moment whether you are confident and can be trusted or if you are iffy and unsure and maybe he can take that leadership place because sure as heck (in his mind) your are not and it is a dirty job but someone (him) has to do it if you won't. It never, ever hurts to do just a moment or two each day of exercises designed to encourage his respect. Just telling him to move over, step back, yield his hindquarters, drop his head...something that shows him he is the one to move, not you (Clinton Anderson's comment.."he who moves his feet looses" is pretty accurate....it is really fun to watch my boss mare in the herd move everyone out there away from herself or where she wants to go just with a LOOK...she has respect from everyone in the herd but she is respectful toward me and moves when I tell her to...sometimes also with nothing more than a LOOK!).

You may have to be more assertive (not necessarily aggressive) with him and practice some respect exercises a bit more strongly for awhile. The interesting thing with horses is that most of them don't WANT to be the leader..it is a huge job in a herd to keep track of everyone and be responsible for their safety (that wild instinct thing). They'd really rather someone else (you) is the leader BUT if you don't take and hold that rank then they will fill in as a herd MUST have a leader...even if the herd is you and your horse.

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CC -- you are absolutely correct in everything that you said.

Training is an every day all day happening. If your horse is not learning something correctly from you, it is learning something incorrect and it will need to be corrected later by you or someone else. Learning is never static. You are either reinforcing something positive from your point of view or he is gaining grond from his point of view.

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CC -- you are absolutely correct in everything that you said.

Training is an every day all day happening. If your horse is not learning something correctly from you, it is learning something incorrect and it will need to be corrected later by you or someone else. Learning is never static. You are either reinforcing something positive from your point of view or he is gaining grond from his point of view.

Thank you.

I think it is similar to raising kids...or maybe the other way around. You cannot tell them for 2 hours to do something and then, when back at the barn (or around the dinner table) allow them to do the exact opposite....in horses confusion reigns and the horse goes back to doing as he pleases...in kids you get mouth and attitude...not so different.

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Totally agree, and also why this small 'testing' and the human not being consistent, is why we also get show smart horses

Often in a show situation, a horse just starts to antisipate a bit, and the rider, not wanting to chance not placing, does not correct the horse. At first this little bit of 'auto piolet or cheat", is nothing brash, and the ride is still good enough that the rider still places, so he does not school or correct his horse in that show situation

Doesn't take long for a horse to assume that different rules apply in the show ring than at home

At the extreme end, the horse starts to blow classes

You have to be consistant with horses and be their leader each and every time. Boundaries have to be black and white-not grey. They have to be the same each and every day

From all indications, this horse just started by invading space a bit, then went on from there to try and establish himself as the out right dominant' horse' over the OP.

INstead of then saying 'yes sir, to any work request, he developed the' make me' attitude

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So given all this...should I go back to basics and re establish leadership? Become more aggressive in my handling of him?

Should I push him harder?

I don't want him to regress, but I also can't and won't tolerate this kind of behavior from him.

Given the excellent advice about why your horse is behaving this way, and assuming that you have indeed missed some behaviors he should not have been allowed to exhibit, I would recommend brushing up on what exactly constitutes inappropriate behavior in a horse/human relationship. I am not withholding out of spite; simply, I could offer you 3 or four obvious ones but those more experienced than I could offer you a HOST of "non-no's."

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I am a very experienced horseman,however I missed these small signs he was giving me.Guarantee I will pay much closer attention to his actions.I know a list of definite no no's myself...for whatever reason I goofed up with this guy.

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I also follow Clinton Anderson's methods. Everyone who said that horses test you regularly is correct. My gelding does this consistently. Therefore, I have to be tuned into his language, signals, etc. Can't let him get away with even the slightest bad behavior. Clinton always says....put the same horses out in the pasture every day together and they will be testing one another as to who can become top horse, and right on down the line. If you have any concern that it could be a health issue...have that ruled out first. But, I'd bet it is behavioral. Don't forget..you need to start out asking gently and then escalate your pressure if you don't get the slightest try. As soon as he gives you one step, take away that pressure. And, most of all, be consistent!!! Good luck! :yahoo:

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I am a very experienced horseman,however I missed these small signs he was giving me.Guarantee I will pay much closer attention to his actions.I know a list of definite no no's myself...for whatever reason I goofed up with this guy.

Have you been especially distracted or busy lately? Not that I am calling YOU lazy, but I tend to get so when I have a lot on my plate.

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I am a very experienced horseman,however I missed these small signs he was giving me.Guarantee I will pay much closer attention to his actions.I know a list of definite no no's myself...for whatever reason I goofed up with this guy.

Don't feel bad. I found myself "not seeing" the signs with my own horse and am running into issues now with him. Where as a client has a horse I started for him at the same time I was starting my gelding.. Yeah, his horse doesn't have those same holes. I think sometimes we expect our horses to know things and we forget to teach them. But when it's someone elses horse you are very aware of them and what they do/don't know.

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Thanks everyone.Yes, I have been extremely distracted with life.I tend to let him slide with things others wouldn't dare dream to do.It's the whole emotional "but he's my baby" mentality I tend to get with him.Which I KNOW isn't proper!

I do agree on the expectations of our own personal horses...I just expect him to know what's right and wrong and to not push the envelope.DUH!! Well lesson learned!

Again, thanks everyone.

Once I get to feeling a bit better I am going to work with him more consistently.

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Chevygirlz

Isn't ironic that our "favorites" are the ones that show us humans where we have holes in our horsemanship.

A Vaquero once told me "The worst wrecks happen on the horses we trust. Because we don't expect it."

He was right, we get relaxed and complacent and miss the signs that would have told us to watch out. I'm sure that every person on this board has or will have an accident or problem with their steady eddy, bomb proof horse. Welcome to the club! :smileywavey:

When someone tells me that a horse is gentle and at the bottom of the totem-pole.

Red flag warnings go off in my head.

Because I've noticed that the horse on the bottom, is always scheming and looking for the tiniest opening to gain status and resources in the herd. A hundred and something pound person, looks real easy to dominate, to the thousand pound horse that wants to move up in it's world.

If a foal is pushing your horse around in the pasture. You'll need to be extra diligent around him. Especially when he is at the age where young colts start taking on the big boys to gain a herd of their own.

I had to practice my "Evil eye of the Boss mare" look on my gelding Ledo at the same age. Making him stand four feet away from the hay barrel until I gave him the cue to come eat, every morning and evening. Helped him to remember who controlled him and the resources.

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