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Highly Dangerous Gelding

Hi Franklin,
I have been searching for a safe and calm horse. I answered and ad and viewed the horse. He seemed quiet and responsive to people in his paddock. He is outdoor boarded and has been on property for three years. He has had little done with him. He is thoroughbred and had been trained on the track but not raced. He has leg splints and suspensory problems (not too badly affecting him). I returned today to view his temperament under lunging and saddling and with a mount. He was advertised and quiet and kind. This gelding, was anything but kind or quiet. He bagan to buck his rider when a gate opened and showed not fear, but distinct anger about the gate. We decided to take off the bridle and try lunging him a bit, to see how he moves. He showed some fear and highness at this point even though the lunge line was only used to walk him a few feet and ask him to halt a couple of times. Suddenly, he bolted and ripped the lunge out of my hand completely, he bucked and ran for a long time in a very large adjoining field. He ran still bucking widly to the gate and I instinctually closed the gate to stop him. Luckily I of course was on the other side of the gate. I grabbed his lead line gently and calmly held him on his side as his owners cautiously approached while in his side of the paddock and took off his lunge line. He went wild, kicking out dangerously and bolting and returning repeatedly to this gate. When the owners themselves showed distinct fear of this so called quiet horse, I opened the gate and let them on the other side. I knew by instinct that this was a very dangerous horse. I put myself between the opened gate and the fencing of the paddock as a blockade. This horse repeatedly approached in a bucking and kicking manner to the owners and they fed him carrots as he approached each time. After eating the carrot he would again leave and display bucking and kicking in anger. He also continued to repeat approaching me and placing his muzzle where I could gently caress it and talk calmly to him. Yet each time he would leave with a directed kick toward this blockade gate I stayed behind and begin bolting and bucking again, just to keep returning to me. Finally he did it. He very aggessively approached and directed an EXTREME, and well placed kick which landed thankfully against the bar of the gate and did not slip through the slot and contact me. When he showed his anger and bolted out again bucking, I quickly left my unsafe hiding place and left the paddock fast. This was a highly planned attack and he was fed-up with waiting for me to come into the open to attack and he finally showed his level of anger when he kicked this gate I was behind. I of course knew he had a very dangerous character and told the owners no chance and left the property. Is there any future for a horse of this intense dominance and dangerous lashing out at humans? He could have easily killed me had I not been lucky that day. His intent was "definately to injure or kill"

Thanks, Liz from Burlington, Ontario

Hi Liz,

Quite a story there. What I am going to briefly say may be difficult for you to accept. It would require a whole different interpretation on the behavior you

experienced with this horse. Obviously the owners know nothing of horses, including their own horse. This horse was probably abused (which is not uncommon for race horses in particular). Even if it was not directly abused, lack of appropriate training and handling has made it extremely 'sour' to the point it is aggressively dangerous. I have retrained quite a few very dangerous horses (mostly mustangs and stallions). To me, they are all innocent. They are like very spoiled young children who, through lack of good parenting and guidance, have become dangerous to themselves and others. Anyway, a horse like this can be rehabilitated (at least 90% of dangerous horses I have seen have come around well). Some will never become wholly trustworthy. Mostly, it is the owners fault for not handling their horses properly, not exercising them, over graining them, never riding them appropriately, never setting boundaries with them, never being a decent leader for them and more. Those are the owners who will blame the horse, make it the horse's fault and not take responsibility for the behavior of their animal (it would be the same if it was their child). Horses like this are frequently passed around from person to person. Occasionally someone who thinks they know something about horses will try to 'make' the horse behave (as opposed to earn the animal's trust). A battle ensues, the horse gets abused and worse behavior happens, sometimes the human gets hurt and the horse goes to slaughter. Its a very common scenario actually. My personal horse here in Colorado was such a horse. When I first came to this area, there was what was called an 'outlaw' horse on the ranch. He was dangerous, wouldn't be caught (dragged a guy who roped him around a rocky field), pulled back so hard he pulled a shed down, wouldn't be loaded, reared so much he split his owners head open, on and on. I heard the horse was going to be put down as the owner didn't feel he was safe enough to sell to anybody. I quickly went to view the animal. What I saw was a really cute quarter horse (there is a picture of him, Pete, and I on the home page of my website) who was a bundle of fear (always the case even in severly aggressive horses). I asked to work with the horse a bit and it didn't take but a day or so for him to begin to trust me enough to settle down and allow me to begin to rehabilitate him. He did give me my longest trailer loading session (4 long hours). Anyway, he is my partner now and does kids programs with me and, while he will never be a horse for a novice horse person, he is a jewel for me. The horse's bad reputation and subsequent rehabilitation put me on the map in this area as an effective trainer. This is rare though as most folks don't have the patience, skills, time and 'attitude' needed to do this sort of job. Its actually the attitude that really makes the big difference (coupled with the knowledge and skills). This is why I said some of what I know to be true about horses is difficult for some to accept. They prefer not to take responsibility for their animals (or children too). They won't spend the money for training or get the education themselves to do the job. The owners of this horse have actually reinforced the animals behavior by constantly feeding it treats thinking the treat would make the horse more compliant. Actually the opposite is true, they trained the horse to habituate to this behavior by rewarding it. Horse need to earn treats. Anyway, this is a bit longer than I expected. If you wish to help this horse, you need to get a lot more education about horses. Perhaps you could do the training if you had the skills. But you would have to have the attitude to go with the techniques as well. There are DVD's on the market that show training of difficult horses, starting mustangs, stallion handling and more. Consider viewing some DVD's on the topic and see how you feel about it. It would certainly open your eyes as to the possibilities for horses such as this. Thanks for your email and good luck to you (and this poor horse).

Sincerely, Franklin

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