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Gelded 4 year old showing aggression

Hi Franklin,

I am hoping you can provide advice for me and my new gelding. Apache, a 4 year old Tennessee Walking Horse, was gelded 3 months ago. He has only been ridden and handled for 9 months and does very well under saddle but a little spooky. The main problem is his aggressiveness towards the other horses. He was first turned out with 8 other horses and quickly established himself as alpha. He stormed gates and chased my sweetest gelding through and over a electric fence. Now he is in a paddock with just one mare he seems to get along with but has also run her through a fence. She is 26 and likes him despite or maybe because of his mounting her. He is very aggressive with the horses. So far we have been lucky he has not seriously injured any horses but if he keeps up this behavior it will not be long. Again he is good with people, but other horses is a different story. What can you suggest? How can I modify his behavior?

Thanks, Sue

Hi Susan,

The horse is showing stallion tendencies. Perhaps he was 'proud cut' which means he retains some of his testosterone producing apparatus. I strongly suggest speaking to the vet who did the procedure, tell him the situation and ask for some hormone tests and suggestions of a medical nature. If you could possibly have any doubts as to the vet taking responsibility for a less than perfect castration, I would bring in another vet to consult with. Testosterone generated behavior is a pain in the butt for horse owners. However, it is not uncommon. Also, if the horse was bred at all before the operation, his behavior is learned to the point of habitual. At his age he is ready for 'a lot of miles'. Putting these many miles on your horse now will assist him in settling down and maturing. Without the extra work at this age, he will mostly have too much energy in reserve and want to use it against any vulnerable horses. Do not grain this horse. Oats only and grass hay. Otherwise you will make the situation worse. Bulk him up with hay and not grain.

To train a different behavior you set up a situation where you know your horse will act aggressively towards another horse. This way you can control what happens immediately. The instant your horse shows any sign of aggression (pins his ears, shows his butt, etc.) he should be immediately be put to work doing circles and a lot of them (hind-quarter yields will do as well). If you can be consistent with providing this consequence of work for unwanted behavior and do it over an extended period of time, you will have a good chance of modifying the behavior. He will begin to associate his behavior with having to go to work. It is non-abusive and effective. However, there is no quick fix. Effective training happens with consistency over time.

Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving,

Sincerely, Franklin

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