Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

jealous, aggressive, possessive filly

Hello Franklin,

I have a 2 yr old dominate filly whom I have raised. I had her pastured with a 7 yr old timid gelding that I raised. They hadn't met until she was about a year old. If you brushed and played with her in the pasture she was fine but if the other horse got attention she would push him out of the way to be in the center. They never fought because he always ran off. I seperated them because the gelding was way too attached and went into a frenzy when I took her away to work her. When she is in hand and being worked she is extremely well mannered. I think because she likes the attention.

I introduced an older dominate gelding as her new pasture mate so she wouldn't be alone and to cut down on stall chores. He would never start anything but he didn't back down either. Most problems were at feeding times and I separated them with corral panels but she would run over and kick the fence between them. After a week or so went by I found him injured laying in the shed. When I was tending to him she seemed ok but curious until the veterinary help arrived. When we got him up and tried to remove him from the pasture she went crazy. Running and kicking up and throwing a fit. I have tried very hard to remain the alpha but I was fearful for the girls from the clinic who were there to help as her fit seemed directed at them.

He had a broken shoulder I am sure from being kicked and had to be euthanized. She is now alone as I do not want to reintroduce the timid gelding as that was a hole different set of problems or risk my other horse getting injured. Not sure of what questions need asked. Just need to be me and the horses to be safe and happy.

How do I stop the anxiety between these horses when 1 is removed or getting the attention?

Thanks, Laurie

Hello and Happy Holidays Laurie,

Thank you for your generous donation in support of my website and the services we try to offer. The behavior of the filly actually mostly stems from how she has been handled and kept. She has learned it is OK to become jealous and possessive. Not good for horses or humans. Yes, you are right that she probably really seeks the attention you give her. She sounds more like a very spoiled child than a well adjusted young horse. This could cause you additional problems once you go to start riding this horse. Seems she has been allowed to do this behavior and it is now simply her habitual way of being. That's a problem. I absolutely suggest you dramatically change the routine.

Anyway, several rules here you could try to implement. Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy for number one. While I understand you cannot stand near them all the time when they are being fed, you probably could sometimes. If you have watched the filly go and kick the panels, you probably could stop the filly by making some noise and waving a 'flag' and saying QUIT. You could set up the situation where you know she will try to aggress the other horse and give a reprimand the instant she looks at the other horse. You could provide a consequence of 'work' for behavior you do not want. You could begin to haze the filly up and down a fence line the instant she tries to pull anything. If you have her on a line, immediately send her around you in circles. Movement is a great consequence for unwanted behavior. No matter what, I strongly suggest more handling for the filly. Sounds like she has a lot of energy and doesn't know what to do with it. Look at diet and exercise being more balanced perhaps. Just a suggestion.

Another thing you can do is to handle both horses in a small corral at the same time. Begin to haze them around and the instant the filly become aggressive to the other horse, you separate her (have a flag in your hand or rope of some kind) from the other horse with your body language and hold her in a corner (ignoring the other horse). You do not need to be near the filly to do this. Allow the other horse to be as far away from the filly as possible. Be the leader and control the spatial aspects of your herd. I suggest spending more time with the two horses together at the same time. Get the filly used to you handling and grooming, etc. them both at the same time, with you directing all movement and controlling all space. The filly needs a lot more active handling. Grooming is great, but you want this horse to move about according to your leadership. Action is the key. Making nice with them, is very nice. But real leadership based trust and respect comes from appropriately directing a huge amount of movement, action ... and lots of interaction involving your great leadership and not just making nice. Lots of reward (removal of all pressure for a few moments) for all efforts at compliance. Consider not being too touchy/feely with the filly. Let peace, calm and quiet be her reward, not much tactile reward. Begin to keep excellent boundaries and be consistent. It does seem the filly has little respect actually for her elders or others. Put her into 'manners' school. It will translate to how she is when in the pasture. Appropriate behavior needs to be learned early on. Bullying behavior should not be tolerated. As you hand raised her, perhaps she did not have the manners training that a herd can rightly provide. But, better late than never as it will only get worse over time. She could become extremely difficult to deal with as she matures.

The vast majority of behavioral problems I receive through my website are with mares. Many more than with stallions. I do believe that many of these issues could have been non-existent had these horses been extensively handled as babies to teach them manners, developed respect and earned mutual trust. Too much coddling, too many food treats (and they should never be given form the hand), allowing boundary invasion, allowed lack of respect, on and on, has created these problems with many domesticated horses (stud colts as well). As you have raised other horses, although you don't say how many, you must have gained some insight as to how to handle babies. This filly should be handled daily and twice a day if possible. Time frame now could be 30 minutes a session. The more you do this, the better your chances of modifying behavior you do not want. Horses habituate very fast. This filly has been allowed to habituate to this behavior. Established habits are hard to change for humans and horses. Its really up to you to change the situation NOW through consistent, regular and appropriate training/handling. That is the only way to improve your situation and get the behavior you want.

Good Luck, Thanks again and Happy Holidays to you....
Sincerest regards, Franklin

Look for: