Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold, Foggy Day

I'm still buried in a heap of homework, but I had to run out to the barn this morning to hold Izzy so she could have her feet done. She's still happy and barefoot with lovely feet.

While out there, I talked to two different horse people whose opinions I value about Izzy's contentiousness lately. I literally cannot walk away from her when she's tied up and there's another horse around. She will lunge at and attack them. She's pretty good about not doing it under saddle, but I'm careful not to get too close to anyone.

Both of them pointed to it as an example of insecurity on Izzy's side. She is in some way incapacitated and feels threatened by the other horse, so she attacks in order to gain safety. One of the people who mentioned this was the farrier/trimmer. She was working on Izzy in the pasture, so Izzy could eat breakfast while having her feet done. Her pasture mate tried to approach and Izzy pinned her ears. Before the situation went any farther, Toni (the trimmer) approached the other horse with an aggressive posture and told her to go away. She did,Izzy relaxed, and all went well.

I'm intrigued. I'm not one who usually speaks up for myself on other people's property. If Izzy pinned her ears at another horse while I was leading her, I'd be more inclined to discipline Izzy than approach the other horse because I feel the other horse isn't mine to control. This method makes sense, however. My only trouble is trying to figure out how to make Izzy comfortable at the hitching post so we can circumvent her lunging at other horses. Any ideas?


  1. Dawn is very much that way - defensively aggressive towards other horses. She's a bit less so now that she's alpha of her mare herd and feels a little more in control. The most important thing is to make sure she knows she is safe with you and that she doesn't have to protect herself. If you're right there by her and don't let anything happen - your farrier did that by protecting her, then she can learn not to be aggressive. My rule is that I don't allow Dawn to show aggression towards another horse when I'm attached - lead, long lines or riding, and she's learning not to do that. I also am careful to respect her space boundaries with other horses - some horses are just not comfortable with another horse too close (as they define too close) - and make sure not to let others too close to her. I also wouldn't leave her tied and unattended as she's likely to feel unsafe that way unless you are close by.

  2. Have to go back to the ulcer theory. Could even explain some of the one sidedness when you ride.

    Worth a test with some ulcer meds to see if it makes any difference in her attitude about life in general.

  3. I ride a mare back home who is like that with everything and everyone, be it people, dogs, cats, other horses, anyone. She'll do it under saddle, on the ground, has to problem absolutely terrorizing any new horse (including a foal, as we found out this summer) turned out in the herd (we managed to get around this by turning the foal out to make some friends while I was riding the mare, and by the time I was done the mare was tired and the foal had an older friend to stick up for her).

    And under saddle she's the worst about it. I make absolutely sure to keep an eye out for where everyone else is, and they all know this mare, so you'd think they would be slightly aware of where she is or what horse they're passing. Problem is an old woman at my barn who passes too closely and never announces it if she's passing from behind or apologizes, even if she's close enough for your stirrups to brush. The one time she's ever apologized is when she physically ran her horse in to someone else's.

    So, even though she's not mine, and I'm not around to be correcting her every time she's handled as if she were mine, I'd definitely be interested in seeing what you do to make her more comfortable with other horses.

    I also remember a thooughbred gelding I once rode (oddly enough he was just as ill behaved and even though not his owner, I was his primary rider there also... I have a habit of attracting the ornery horses no one likes), who would get in to fights through the stall bars with other horses when he was tied to the stall. I would always discipline him first (be it a snap of the lead rope, a snap on the neck, anything to get his attention) and then aggressively approach the horse in the stall (through the bars, I must have been a character to watch... Pushing my head up against the bars, baring/snapping my teeth and staring them right in the eye), who usually backed off also.

    The only thing that ever really got him to stop was the saddlebred in the stall beside him actually biting him and taking a good amount of skin off his neck. He was such a bluffer, he'd start fights and then back off if the other horse was more aggressive.


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