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Mare with foal being aggressive towards humans

Well first of all Hi!

My name is Taylor and I have a questions about a mare that I recently purchased. I traveled to OK to pick her up, she was very pregnant at the time and the only reason I bought her was for the colt. I have been wanting to raise and train one for a long time.

Anyway, when we arrived home with her it was raining like crazy and she was in a 2 horse slant and she couldn't turn around to get out of the trailer because she was so pregnant. Needless to say getting her out of the trailer was difficult, but she was never violent or aggressive.

Then we noticed a couple of days later she wasn't interested in us touching her and she didn't want any contact. We had one of our friends that trims and shoes come out to trim her because her feet were grown out like crazy. She did fine on her left side but when he touched her right side her ears automatically pinned back and before I could warn him she took a chunk out of his shoulder.

Ever since then she has been aggressive. Anytime you touch her she pins her ears back and stomps her feet, kicks and tries to bite. I have no idea what to think! She was never aggressive toward me when I mess with her colt even from day one, I imprinted him and everything, and he is now 5 months old and my big baby but I don't want him to grow up acting like her.

Do you think this could be from mistreatment before we got her? Or are there any other reasons you can think of, I would like to try and make her gentle it makes me sad that she is so distant.

Thanks for your time! Taylor

Hi Taylor,

Well, foals do learn from behavior their moms. Your concern is justified. Its been five months since the birth and, from your email, it seems the behavior is the same for the mare. Also, I would infer from the email that things are OK with the foal, at this point.

This sort of behavior in any horse can be pain related and not only from prior abuse. Please have the horse checked for pain anywhere by a good veterinarian. Also, you might check with the previous owners of the mare to see what they have to say about her attitude and behavior while they had her.

Once you rule out pain, if you want to modify her behavior you would need to go back to the basics of good ground training. You would need to begin to develop a bond of trust with this horse. Actually it would be good practice for you and the foal would watch it all and learn. It would be like rehabilitating an abused/rescued horse. Same desensitizing her and getting her compliant at being handled (led forward, good soft stops and starts, directional and speed transitions while lunging, double long-lining [ground driving], liberty training, even introducing a saddle and bridle as if she were the baby).

Appropriate, gentle use of a round pen with the mare would be super (you could have the foal in with her). You would be amazed at how much a youngster will pick up from watching a parent. If you are experienced enough to take on the mare's issues, you certainly have the expertise to take on the foal.

Give the mare two months or so to really come around. Consistency, patience, one-step-at-a-time training, immediate reward for any effort (totally release all pressure and any input to the mare for 30 seconds or so is the best reward) at compliance. Establishing a regular routine of training for the mare is very advisable. An hour or so a day, certainly once and sometimes twice (AM & PM) a day is fine.

You do not say when you are planning to wean the foal or what methods of weaning you are going to employ. You also do not say if this is the first foal had by this mare. If it is not, it might be interesting to know how she was when she had previous foals by her side. Please keep me posted if you like. Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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