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Foal proud mare

Hi I need some advice.

My miniature mare has just had a foal and up until she had it she was lovely and enjoyed being with me. Since she had it a couple days ago she won't let me touch her she pins her ears back and tries to bite or even kick. I understand she's just protecting her foal and won't let me near it. But why has she become aggressive towards me as we where good friends and will this behavior pass in time.

Thank you for any help
Regards. Laurene

Hi Laurene,

Well, you may have been good friends, but it sounds like there was not a whole lot of trusted leadership as part of your relationship. Additionally, this sort of behavior in a mare with a new foal is not uncommon. But in order to have developed some trust (more than simple friendship) you needed to be more of the good leader (not the boss, but leader). For your horse, ideally you should have been consciously leading all movement (asking for movement and then rewarding effort). This means making specific requests for specific movement, setting and keeping boundaries always and more. It is the real nature of horses to desire a leader with them. In the wild herd, the leader helps assure survival of the herd by knowing when to move the herd, indicating when it is safe to rest, eat and drink, on and on. The leader controls the resources of the herd. Those resources are food and spatial aspects and movement. The other horses in the herd trust and respect this leader as their survival depends on her. She is protected as much as possible and only slightly challenged as to her abilities to lead, in case one day the mare is not able to lead.

So, being friends is very nice, but not enough. You can have a friend, but perhaps you would not trust that friend with your child or baby. That is the sort of trust and respect that you have not developed with your horse. To earn the animalís trust you need to become like the herd leader. Some of this means being very consistent, able to ask for specific movement, receive effort from the horse and then immediately reward that effort by removing the pressure of your request (i.e. stop asking and offer a few moments of total peace). Sort of advance and retreat in and out of the personal space of the animal. Removal of pressure is the great reward and develops trust and respect when offered when the horse tries to comply with a request for movement (even simple movement). Too much pressure in the request tends to scare the horse and prompt it to move away. Too little energy in the request and the animal ignores you. We need to develop an awareness of how much pressure too much, too little or just right. Each horse is a little or a lot different.

I suggest giving the mare some time to get used to having this foal with her (3-4 weeks) and gradually reintroduce yourself to her, but as her leader. Read up on information in my essays and help center on gaining the trust and respect of horses and becoming the good leader. There is a lot in there for free. Good Luck and please keep me posted. Happy Holidays.

Sincerely, Franklin

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