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Gelding suddenly injuring mare he has been friends with for years

Hi Franklin,

I have 3 gelding horses, one mare, and a mule that run out on 4 acres of pasture year round, and up until the past 6 months, everything has been fine. The problem I am dealing with is that my dominant gelding is bullying my mare. What I find odd is that I purchased both of these horses from the same person back in 2005, so they have been together for many years and have always seemed to take care of each other. He definitely rules over all of the horses, but he is starting to injure her and I'm concerned that it may some day be more that a surface cuts that I come home to. I have seen him running her through the field, rare up and land on her, basically attacking her with his front feet, and am more frequently finding cuts on her back, hind quarters, neck, face, etc. The surface cuts appear to be from his shoes. The cuts have been consistently 3/8" wide by anywhere from 1" to 5 " long. The most recent cut was only half an inch over her eye & about 4 inches long. This could have put her eye out! I haven't seen him put these cuts on her, but I know his behavior all too well and feel strongly that he is doing this.

I feel that I may need to separate them, but really don't have enough land to do that. He is definitely one of the horses that I ride so I really don't want to get rid of him. I am considering selling her as I really have too many horses now and she is not one that is ridden. Do you have any other suggestions of what I can do to prevent this from happening?

Thanks a lot....Julie

Hi Julie,

You do not give me any history of the other horses and the mule that are there. Probably something with those animals may have prompted the behavior you are seeing in your gelding that is aggressing the mare. If you do not ride the mare and she is a nice horse, I agree that you might try to sell her. Consider the interaction of the aggressive gelding with the other animals there. Probably there is something going on you are not noticing that is prompting this. Maybe the mare is forming an attachment to another animal and the gelding is getting jealous/angry. This is a real possibility. Additionally, he may be going after the mare because he can (she is most vulnerable). Or he goes after her simply because she is most vulnerable (some horses will do that to ride in herd ranking or simply because the become bullies when in a larger group of animals).

Good Luck, Sincerely, Franklin

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