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equicrzy

A Good Horse, Gone Bad.

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Sam actually hasn't, gone bad, he's just gotten away with too much, for too long.

My fault, entirety all my fault, what happened tonight.

I've had so much on my plate, moving, remodeling, health issues, you name it, really, that I have been very lax in the discipline and, respect department.

I figured, as long as the horses are somewhat respectful, as long as they don't take advantage, crowd me at dinner time, etc ... all was fine.

Well, I didn't realize just how much leeway I had given Sam, until tonight. He plowed into me.

I had just set the food down and, was starting to walk away when, Abby walked over, Sam is not the dominant horse, so he moves away when Abby walks over.

This time, though, he didn't just walk away, he panicked and plowed into me, knocking me on my butt, thankfully, he didn't continue forward and, over me, instead, he veered off, to the right. I really thought he was going to go right over the top of me and, was bracing for it.

Another good thing, if you can come away with anything good about it, I fell in a spot where the sand was thicker and, it had been raining, so it was wet and softer.

Actually, I didn't know what to do, I had lost the window of opportunity, to get after him for it, by the time I collected my wits, picked myself up off the ground, the 3 second, come to Jesus thing, had passed.

I had to do something though, Sam, I think, knew he had made a boo boo, he ran to the other side of the paddock and was looking at me.

So, I chased him around some, wouldn't let him come near me or the food, until I said, okay.

Don't know if I did the right thing, a good thing, or what, all I knew, was, I couldn't just do nothing.

Abby, on the other hand, is just fine on the ground, she stays back when I feed and, isn't pushy. She's the one with a lot less experience and training, too.

I need to get Sam in hand, ya think?

Take a longe whip into the paddock when I feed, to keep him away until I'm done? Take him back to kindergarten?

Thanks for reading!

Edited by equicrzy

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Well, it is natural for a lower down horse to try and escape any which way, and you have to convince that horse, that running over you to achieve that escape is not it. Basically, the horse sees you as lower down then that dominant horse

Yes, carry that longe whip and make both the dominant horse and Sam realize that you are top of that pecking order, and that no aggression toward another horse is allowed, while you are there, and that over you is not a viable escape route

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Well, it is natural for a lower down horse to try and escape any which way, and you have to convince that horse, that running over you to achieve that escape is not it. Basically, the horse sees you as lower down then that dominant horse

Yes, carry that longe whip and make both the dominant horse and Sam realize that you are top of that pecking order, and that no aggression toward another horse is allowed, while you are there, and that over you is not a viable escape route

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I really do believe Sam saw the error of his ways, it just came a little too late. Which is why he veered at the last second, instead of going over me.

I think I still have a longe whip, somewhere.

Thanks, smilie.

Edited by equicrzy

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Sam isn't a good horse gone bad and you are right about responsibility: You didn't maintain your boss mare status in the herd, in addition, you weren't paying attention to the herd dynamics around you. I agree with carrying the longe whip with you but I'd be sure to make *both* horses move away and stay away until you have retreated a safe distance in order for them to approach and keep you safe. They both need to learn this new feeding routine by realizing your direction affects them both and they need to learn how to move around among themselves w/in their pecking order when you direct them away.

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I don't see it as aggression. You just got in the way of his "flight mode." It can happen, and you need to make sure it doesn't happen by having a feed protocol that includes both horses waiting until you are safely out of the way. Yes to the lunge whip. Also, separate their feeding stations so that the mare won't chase the gelding. If she does that around you, discipline her too.

Only you know about any other disrespect going on with him. I know how a person can let that slide when otherwise preoccupied. But it usually comes back to bite you.

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A horse in flight mode won't run over one higher in status. That's where the disrespect comes in. My horses have done some amazing gymnastics to stay off of me in similar situations (aggression by another horse or something). That's what you want.

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I think that we are basically saying the same thing.

Yes, a horse has to realize even when he is in flight mode, over you is not the escape route

However, my main herd used to consist of some 15 horses fed at liberty, thus it was equally important that all of the horses understood that when I was out their feeding, normal herd dynamics , such as food possessiveness was not allowed

If a dominant horse chased or acted aggressive, he was reprimanded as much as the horse that might have considered in using me as an escape route

The end result, was, the person who looks after our horses when we do go on that rare holiday, and who also looks after other people's horses, always comments as to how respectful my horses are, and that she never feared for her safety while feeding them, unlike some other places where she horse sits.

Might not seem like a big deal with one horse moving in on that lower down horse, but get a bunch of horses crowding in at feeding, acting out on their position in the herd, and you have a problem, which does not end with just that lower down horse

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I think if you credit Equi's horse with thinking, "I'm more afraid of that mare than I am of my owner, so I'll knock my owner down," you're crediting the horse with a little too much brain power. I think horses are smart, but not that smart. The horse reacted quickly to a threat. Equi was in the way. He didn't have time to weigh any consequences. Now if he routinely runs over her or invades her space, that's a different situation and would need correction. People who are not vigilant toward instinctual horse behavior end up getting hurt.

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I can relate, similar issues here at home with my pushy new gelding and my mare who is trying to do her job to remind him of his manners. He and I are both still working on our dynamic, but I totally agree with those who said you have to demand better behavior from the bossy horse, too. I want my mare to discipline the gelding, but by golly, there are NO sparks when I am in the vicinity!

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I think if you credit Equi's horse with thinking, "I'm more afraid of that mare than I am of my owner, so I'll knock my owner down," you're crediting the horse with a little too much brain power. I think horses are smart, but not that smart. The horse reacted quickly to a threat. Equi was in the way. He didn't have time to weigh any consequences. Now if he routinely runs over her or invades her space, that's a different situation and would need correction. People who are not vigilant toward instinctual horse behavior end up getting hurt.

True, BUT I also think horses have to be taught that you are more alpha that that dominant horse, putting the move on that horse that chooses to escape by running over you

It does not matter if the horse had time to weigh the consequences-run over and hurt is the same in the end.

I thus get the level of respect, that a lower down horse would rather chose to stand up to that dominant horse, then run over me, as I am higher up then the horse he is trying to escape, even though a mere human

Ever see a lower down horse, try to escape a horse higher up by running over a horse that is above him?

Thus, if that horse truly feels trapped, then the choice I expect him to make, is to consider me the true alpha, and thus chose to run over that dominant horse, rather than me.

The more logical choice, is to never have that lower down horse need to make that choice, by keeping all horses backed off at feeding time, or at whatever time, respecting your space, and getting the point across that normal herd pecking orders are not allowed while you are out there

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I don't care whether I am perceived as the 'lead mare', just as the true alpha, thus not an entity a horse would chose to run over

If a horse decides running over you is a viable escape route, he has decided that you are physically a better choice to run over then that alpha horse

Of course, this is true, but we constantly apply a bluff, so that a horse never learns his own strength, applied against a human

Did we not do this through training, there is not way in **** that we could ever lead a 1000 lb animal with a simple halter and lead shank

Therefore, you use that same 'bluff, if you will, using a whip . a lunge line, the end of a hay fork, if it happens to be in your hand, to demonstrate to the horse that running over you to escape is not an option. That is a no brainer to me!

It has nothing to do with NH, but rather with safety. Feed a herd of horses at liberty, and maybe you will understand the importance of this

It doe snot mean the horse has to fear you, as that horse certainly doe snot fear the dominant horse under normal circumstances. A dominant horse will put a lower down horse in his place, and a few minutes later you will see them grazing side by side. Horses don't hold grudges. They like clear black and white boundaries, and they also live in the here and now

I'm not even going to read those NH links, as I just glanced at them. They have not a thing to do with this situation

Good, safe horse handling does not have a label, it is just plain common horse sense!

And, ya, that horse better have more fear of me, than of that dominant horse, when it comes to chosing whether to run over me, or stand up to the dominant horse, and chose another way to get out of the space of that dominant horse then over me.

Edited by Smilie

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So, Sam would have definitely run over me, if he had no respect for me, is pretty much what everyone is saying?

The way I understand it, Sam knocked me down, because I was in his way, but veered to the right, rather than go over me, because he DOES have respect for me.

I'm the first to admit, Sam wasn't at all disrespectful when I got him, letting him get away with too much, for too long, is what it. Started out, one little seemingly unimportant thing at a time, then it snowballed.

My mare does stay back until I've sat the food down and, when I come out of the barn with the food, I'm saying,"get back, get back", while forcing them to keep away from me.

Abby doesn't actually chase Sam from the food, all she has to do, is, walk in his direction and, he moves away, sometimes freaking out. Abby will actually let Sam eat from the same flake of hay, as she. Sam just overreacts a lot of the time.

What I need to do, is, bridle and saddle Sam and, in the paddock, make him listen to me, do what I want, when I want it, get him listening to me again.

I'm in AZ right now, won't be home until Saturday, so, I'm gonna have to wait til then, to start in on Sam.

I told my husband, we need to start discipline Sam more, he says,"I don't have a problem with Sam", which he doesn't.

Well, later all, I need to get some rest, it was a 6 hour drive.

Edited by equicrzy

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What I'm saying is, her horse didn't choose anything. He reacted instinctually to move away from the mare. If he had considered Equi the easier target, he would not have avoided stepping on her. Equi may not have even been in his line of vision when he began to move away from the mare. If you only rely on training, don't allow for a horse's natural instincts, you can get hurt. I believe you once relayed a story about riding your horse along the road and she jumped into the ditch when a large truck passed. Instinct.

ETA I was responding to Smilie, Equi. You were posting at the same time.

Edited by jubal

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I disagree. Obviously, there are some situations where a horse just can't avoid everyone, but in most pasture settings there are choices as to "escape route", and in my world, that route will not go near me. My horses understand that much - and I don't think they fear me, not a bit, but they are all extremely careful of my space. I will admit that I purposefully own non-reactive horses who are careful by nature, so that does help. I don't have any aggressive horses, but I have fostered and boarded a couple. That aggressive horse, I would go after with whatever was handy. The ones I couldn't fix didn't stay. Most learn pretty quickly that life is great if they keep me happy, but they had better not make me mad.

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You have to remain aware of your herd dynamics

If you have a very timid horse that freaks even when a dominant horse just moves close to their comfort zone, you have to keep aware of both horses, thus the minute the lower down horse even tenses, you make sure that horse understands over you is not an escape route, plus you make that dominant horse back off

Horses do and will learn that there is zero tolerance for any herd like jousting when you are out there with them, and my dominant horses are just as careful not to intimidate a lower down horse to move towards me,as that lower down horse knows that if push comes to shove, better find another route of escape then over me!

Yes, mistake or not, I make sure that the horse understands his mistake, and avoids ever doing it again.

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I don't feel Sam needs to be gotten after. Like you said, the moment for the 3 seconds of come-to-Jesus is long gone and when he realized who he'd run into, he altered his course to not go over you. What I do think needs to happen is you need to create a larger personal bubble to keep both horses out of your space when feeding. The longe whip will help create, maintain and reinforce that space.

There are a couple phrases that stand out to me and I have a question.

1.) Equi said: "I had just set the food down and had started to walk away."

The Question: You say you were walking away, could you see them or had you turned your back to them?

2.) Heidi said: "You weren't paying attention to the herd dynamics around you."

3.) Jubal said: "You just got in the way of his flight instincts."

4.) Smilie said: "You have to remain aware of your herd dynamics."

If your back was to them and/or you weren't watching them, I feel this particular incident was more inattention on your part and less a respect or dominance issue. Especially if Sam didn't see you when he started moving away from Abby.

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I really do believe Sam saw the error of his ways, it just came a little too late. Which is why he veered at the last second, instead of going over me.

I think I still have a longe whip, somewhere.

Thanks, smilie.

It wasn't that your horse saw the error of his ways:) It is not a horse's nature to intentionally run over humans.

I have had handled a lot of horses in my life and only had three that came directly at me with full intent on running me over. I'm not sure what drove the mare to not change direction, unless it was pure absolute panic and she truly may not have realized I was in front of her but the two stallions had serious issues, one of them being a cryptorchid.

However, the horse in question does need some discipline but it should only take one or two times, without beating or lunging him half to death, to get his manners back :smilie:

My best horse for playing at liberty games, is the worst horse for taking that proverbial mile when I only give him an inch :confused0024: He's been with me 18 years and while I rarely have to discipline him, these days, there was a point in time where nightly "don't you do that!" and maybe a pop with the riding crop was in order.

Changing him to a grain and soy free diet also worked miracles on his behavior and willingness to listen.

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I have a question - couldn't see if it was answered already... Shouldn't Abby be disciplined for asserting her place over Sam while Equi was around?

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^^^ That theme has been touched on in almost every reply. Some replies are more direct in addressing the discipline of the lead horse for asserting dominance while Equi was out there. The general consensus remains the same: People should always have and maintain the dominant position in the herd and the horses need to learn that no jockeying behavior is allowed when people are present or discipline will ensue.

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You know , I am trying to remember if my back was to him, or not.

It happened pretty quickly. I remember walking away, then starting to turn back around, for some reason and, there was Sam, coming towards me, he was right there, I really had no time to react.

I had to have been facing him, because, I was on my back, looking up at the sky. I saw Sam almost on top of me, then he made a quick turn to the right.

I does, to me, look like Sam was fleeing from Abby and, didn't expect me to be there.

I will definitely be more careful in the paddock plus, establish a wider circle of, " don't come any closer than this", boundary.

I think I need to say, neither horse is aggressive, in any way, to humans.

Edited by equicrzy

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It sounds like you fed, turned to walk away and probably heard the hoofbeats as Sam tried to avoid Abby so you turned back to see what was going on and he was too close and ran into you.

Because you've said Sam can overreact to Abby's movements, I think it is best that you keep them both back from you at feeding time and in your sight so you can control them (longe whip) until you are well clear. You weren't paying attention to how they could have (and did) interact together and could have been hurt very badly. I'm glad you are okay and this experience is a good learning lesson for us all, to remind us to pay attention to our surroundings and the things that could possibly harm us.

Edited by Heidi n Q

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You're so right.

Horses are huge animals, I probably have gotten too lax, in that department, as well, I never thought anything like that would happen.

By the way, off topic, my Doctor suspects I have, BBPV, a type of Vertigo. I have an RX to take for 15 days, if it works great, if not, back to the drawing board.

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