Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Aggressive horse towards children

Hi Franklin,

We have had a quarter horse gelding for several months and he has been wonderful. We did not see any aggression in him until the other day. Two small children were grooming him when he suddenly turned, pinned his ears back, and barred his teeth charging at them. We quickly moved them to safety. The next day the children were standing a few feet away, not grooming him, when he suddenly charged at them again. We are shocked as we have never seen this behavior demonstrated before. We are now fearful for the children to be around him. What could have caused this sudden change in behavior? The horse is in excellent health and has no physical problems.

Hope to hear back from you,


Hello Diana,

Many horses, want and need to have appropriate leadership (a leader around) all the time. Some horses in the presence of a human (even a child) without a real positive energetic connection with that human will attempt to fend for themselves and that can become the behavior you saw. Not having a conscious connection with the humans around it (children or adults) can make some horses nervous and seemingly aggressive. If some horses are groomed unconsciously they get aggressive towards the groomer. Also, it is in a horse's nature to dominate where it can. This is part of their survival mechanism. Some horses will attack a 'vulnerable' (unconscious) individual, be it horse or human. Some horses do not like children because there is frequently no conscious connection, no leader present. Children actually make the horse fearful, fend for itself and behave as you saw.

You can train this horse to be more accepting of children. However, you should not allow the children with the horse unsupervised. What you do is to put the horse to work if he begins to look threatening at the kids. Work being going around in circles, hind quarter yields, etc. Do you understand what I mean? I have had a couple of horses over the years that just did not like kids. This is rare but does happen. They were dangerous around children. I did manage to make them more safe. But I always needed to supervise children around these horses and make my leadership presence always felt by the horse. This is not unnatural behavior. It is common actually. However, it is a problem and maybe this horse is not the best for your family. You might consider a change, unless you feel competent you can train the horse out of the behavior. It is not about discipline or making the horse do anything. The horse is not being bad. It is just being a horse and exhibiting one of the myriad behaviors horses can have (mostly good but some not so good for humans). Do not blame the horse as being bad please. Do not punish him. Either re-train him or move him on to a more appropriate home.

Thanks a lot for your question. Be careful and the best of luck to you.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: