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Horse is charging me and my husband

I have a 11 year old mare that i have had since she was born. Yesterday she attacked my husband twice and me once. He was lunging her in round pen in one direction, and she was doing fine. But once he made her turn and go the other direction she became aggressive. First it started as entering his space with ears back, then she charged him. Yes he had the lunge whip and had used it. She did this twice. She stomped him in the ground. The second time i yelled her name after she charged him, she then turned her attention to me, but was not aggressive. I tried to lunge her, she then charged me. We turned her out with the other horses after this. In the pasture i can walk up to her and rub her anywhere i want. she will not show any aggression towards me. it was only in the round pen and with the lunge whip. Please help.

Michelle from Mississippi


Round pen exercises and dances with horses need to be very accurate as far as the body language of the human. Horses mainly communicate via the body. If you or your husband are even slightly out of position to communicate what you want, aggression can happen as the horse very quickly gets frustrated. When a horse gets frustrated, it becomes angry and afraid. Sounds like you are putting too much pressure on the horse in the round pen and not using your body correctly.

Trying to teach this in an email is like trying to teach you to tango in an email. One must see it to get it. You must be more by the horse's hip (behind the drive-line) and not be looking at the horse in the face. But rather look at the horse's rump. This position clearly says go forward. Looking the animal in the face or being too close and/or in front of the drive-line says stop and/or turn towards me. By trying to push the animal forward and being out of position, likely you are confusing the frustrating the mare. Some horses tolerate confusing and/or frustrating communication better than others.

Go very slowly, keep your energy calm and quiet, ask for only a couple of steps at a time and then stop asking for anything (this is the reward for effort). Rewarding your horse by removing all pressure of any request for movement is extremely important. Going in circles is boring, frustrating, and goes against the nature of the animal. Round pens are a tool for communication. Are you communicating well or not? Compassion, kindness, SKILL, wisdom of the animal and developed trust are the keys. Developing trust should be your biggest and foremost agenda.

Sincerely, Franklin

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