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Mean gelding

My 6 year old foundation bred gelding (who until now was the baby of the farm) had an instant and incredibly violent dislike of my 4 (now 6) month old colt, from the 1st second I brought him home. We have to keep them seperate, alternating who gets to be out in the big pasture with the older gelding. This gelding is NOT GETTING BETTER. Yesterday for the 1st time ignored that I was in the stall with him, came over the top of me to charge the colt who was outside his stall.
I am at my wits end. I have had years experience with horses, young and old. I am level 3 Parelli. Please help, because if this horse hurts me or the baby, my husband may do something he will regret.....

I found your site by accident, I'm glad I did. Laurel

Hi Laurel,

As the colt is still an 'intact' male, the gelding senses/perceives this and also senses/perceives he can intimidate this young male. The young male is vulnerable and that is all the gelding needs (that vulnerability) to nail him. It's still natural equine behavior. It may look 'bad', but its natural instinct (survival). I tend not to say horses display negative human traits. Now, I find I never use the words 'bad,' mean, willful, stubborn, etc. when refering to horses. These words all come with a judgement that may cloud your responses or ability to respond to a situation with a particular horse. Understanding it is natural behavior and anything you don't want is the animal fending for itself to feel it will survive, will assist your judgement on what to do about it. You'll be firm, but not angry. Strong and quiet at the same time, because you'll be precise in the moment and confident in your abilities. He's not mean...he's a horse and he needs more education and attention to you as his wonderful leader.

I would suggest a lot more of your time with the gelding. More exercise than he is currently getting with you.....and you 'leading the dance.' You probably know a lot of nifty moves to ask of a horse on a short line. Do it more with this gelding......After 30 minutes of continuous, steady, as relaxed as possible, movement (trotting mainly)....with occasional very brief rests as reward for an excellent 'try'/effort. This will set you up as the leader of the dance much more than what you are doing. Steady and consistent, steady and consistent. Or, maybe you are just not doing enough of what you are already doing. There is no quick easy fix other than steady, appropriate and easy, directed movement and a lot of it. I do not mean pushing the horse endlessly around a round pen. I mean more close in detailed movement, not taken too far (sensitivity to the tolerance of the horse). There are no level 1-2-3 deals with this. There is nothing but developing trust through not asking too much too fast (knowing when to say "thank you" by stopping). Once the horse has settled with you and is totally with you (as much as possible anyway) and you have practiced a few great close in moves you can ask of the horse if, and when, he looks to do anything you do not want, you should be able to bring that colt around him and vice/versa. Do it in-hand first and for a few times......If the gelding twitches an ear that you don't like, you have a few good moves to require of the horse the moment he does what you do not want. These moves must be practiced beforehand and become basically automatic when asked for and done with trust by the horse before you bring the colt around.

Use a rope halter on the gelding for sure and get good at snaking the line under his chin until he backs a few steps. Do that a lot and the get horse really soft and responsive to that cue. You need to be able to keep his attention with you when the colt is around. Firmer, yet still kind leadership, and more of it time wise. Take smaller steps initially and really get his attention on you and keep it there. Get good at slow motion with him and micro-movement. Put him to work doing some small circles around you. Doing directional transitions by the horse rolling-back and facing you for the turn and moving off in the other direction is a terrific move, roll-back directional transitions. Get him soft at that and really good at it. You can do that move in a relatively small space once practiced to a good 'lightness.' Hind quarter yields on the ground or from the saddle (leg yields) when a horse does or even thinks about doing something you don't want is a good plan too. Leg yields if in the saddle and a lot of them are good practice in keep the horse's attention on the rider and go hand-in-hand with 'active' riding. Is the gelding getting too much grain or protein in his diet for the amount of exercise he is getting? Just thought I'd ask.

The transition may take a while, but these horses can probably be socialized together. Try training the gelding a lot more for now and see what happens in a few weeks. Good Luck.....

Sincerely Franklin

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