I hope you can help me. I have an 19 year Mare that has great ground manners, easy to ride, very gentle with people, but

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Customer: I hope you can help me. I have an 19 year Mare that has great ground manners, easy to ride, very gentle with people, but is very aggressive with other horses out in the pasture. She acts like she is season all the time and does a lot winking. She had backed herself up to her stall gate and urinated outside of the gate into the isle. She has had her ovaries checked, had a ultrasound done, blood work - which did show above normal. I put her on Regumate - 15cc now. She still shows aggressiveness towards the other horses that now she is in a different field completely by herself. I have read your training on socialization of horses. Do you think she can be trained to be socialized with other horses or could it be her hormones ( a medical problem that we are missing)   Thank you.
Answered by Donna Campbell Smith in 35 mins 13 years ago
Donna Campbell Smith
Pet Specialist

176 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Horse Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary

Dear XXXXXtiMac,


There is not much you can do about how your horse behaves while it is loose in the pasture. It does sound like she is in heat more than usual. I cannot tell you about her hormone levels - the vet who did the testing I assume is advising you on that.


I have always found life if easier for everyone if mares and geldings are pastured separately. Some mares, for whatever reasons, seem to stay in heat when they are stalled next to or pastured with or next to geldings. My old mare would exhibit signs of being in heat whenever a new gelding came to the barn, even into her 30s (she died recently at age 35) and even in the last year of her life she "flirted" with the boys.


The aggressive behavior can also be that she is the alpha horse in the herd - and maybe another horse is challenging her position. That happens in a herd when there are two or more strong horses. The horses on the lower end of the totem pole stay out of the way, while the others fuss.


Now when you are dealing with her - on the ground or riding - do not tolerate her bossing you around, or any aggressive behavior. You are alpha in the herd.


A excellent way to establish you are alpha is through basic leading lessons>


Spend a long time on leading. This is your main building block on which all other training depends. Your horse should stay at your shoulder at times, stepping out with you as you step forward, back, turn, jog, anything you ask him to do the horse must stay at your shoulder. Don't let her lag behind, or rush ahead. When this is accomplished you can move on to longeing or round pen work. But, the leading is the most important stage of training because it establishes you as the herd leader. When your horse thinks of you as his leader she also thinks of you as her protector. Anytime you run into a training problem, on the ground or under saddle, go back to your basic leading lessons.


You need a halter; lead rope and a longe whip for the training. Your horse has two responsibilities: one - to stay perpendicular to you (not swinging its hips away or toward you) and two - to stay with its throatlatch even with your shoulder.


Stand at the horse's left shoulder/throat latch area, facing the direction you intend to go. Your right hand is on the lead rope about six inched below the snap (never hold onto the snap, that is very dangerous in case the horse snatches away), hold the excess lead rope in a loop in your left hand, and hold the whip in your left hand. The whip should always be pointed behind you and toward the ground, so not to worry or excite the horse.


Now, step forward, looking where you are going. Do not turn your head and look at the horse. This will intimidate her and can cause her to stop or lag behind. She should step off the exact moment you step forward. If she does not, reach back and tap her "ankles" with the whip. If she still does not move, tap a little harder the second time. If it takes a third time tap smartly and make sure you get her moving.


If the horse tries to turn toward you and swing her hips away (this is an avoidance movement) just push on the lead rope with your hand going under the horse's jaw turning the front of the horse away, until she is standing perpendicular to you again. You just calmly repeat this anytime she gets out of position until she learns where she should be. Then ask her again to move forward.


Your horse should stay at your shoulder at all times, stepping out with you as you step forward, back, turn, jog, anything you ask her to do, she must stay at your shoulder. If she lags behind or stops tap her with the whip and get her to move forward.


Now, what might happen is your horse will rush ahead of you. If that happens tug sharply on the lead rope with your right hand. Give a sharp voice command like, "no" or "slow down" or anything except whoa, because you don't want her to stop, just slow back to your pace. Again, it may take a second or third tug. Increase the pressure each time.


Don't let her lag behind, or rush ahead. These leading lessons are the most important stage of training because it establishes you as the herd leader. When your horse thinks of you as her leader she also thinks of you as her protector. Anytime you run into a training problem, on the ground or under saddle, go back to your basis leading lessons.


This might seem very basic, but it can make a huge difference in your horses attitude when you are working with her. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.




Donna C. Smith



Thank you for your response. K.Te is very trained and very well behaved as far as
her ground manners and her behavior towards humans. The vet said her ovaries
feel normal and it may be that she was not socialized with the other horses at the barn of her prior owner.

I really don't want her to be on Regumate for a long length of time due to it being so toxic to young women and it being sooo expensive. I could keep her in private turn out but I'm afraid that if I have to move her that private turn out may not be available. We, the Vet and I have discussed spaying her but now he thinks that it would not solved her behavior towards her pasture mates. She was in the pasture with just mares.

Thank you for your time

Your mare will go through the sorting and heiracy adjustments everytime she moves to a new location. That is normal herd behavior. Spend some time observing ( a whole day, sitting in or near the pasture) her in the pasture to see what particular horses she is challenging and which ones she leaves alone. The less dominate horses she may get along with, and maybe you can pull those horses out to pasture separately with her. Even then, it may be that the dymanics will change.


Horses are not like dogs that you can socialize with other horses. They are herd animals and need a "boss mare" to protect the herd. It is normal that the boss mare is constantly challenged to be sure she is strong enough to deserve and hold her position.


GaWaNi Pony Boy writes about this in Horse Follw Closely (and how we can use these natural relationships in working with our horses)


Other than trying to find a horse(s) that she will not see as challengers to pasture with her I do not think there is anything you can do to change her behavior.



Hello again

Unfortunately, I can't put her in a field with the other horses. At this point I'm afraid that she will do harm to her pasture mates and to tell you the truth, the owner of these horses don't want to take a chance on getting their horses injured. K.Te certainly would be the Boss Mare in the wild. Right now she is on private turn out but can see and communicate with the other horse - OVER THE FENCE. So she is not isloated from the other horses. After talking to my Vet, she is now off of Regumate. So that's the good news. Who knows, maybe in the future she'll decide she doesn't want to be the boss mare. Cool Thank you. Thank You



That is understandable. It sounds like you have the best situation for her under the circumstances. In the future - if you have a choice - look for a large enough pasture that the horses can keep out of each other's way and set up their little sub-groups. It is rare that they really hurt one another unless they get in a tight spot and can't get out of the way fast enough.


but, for not I think you're doing the right thing putting her in a private paddock.



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Donna Campbell Smith
176 satisfied customers
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Donna Campbell Smith
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