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Wire brush and new friends.

My big imprinted baby boy Belgian is 8 months old and my boarding stable introduced him the next day to all 5 geldings and traumatized him. He has started to bite aggressively. Are they sort of responsible? He is separated now. He was only with is mother before. He has great ground manners; backs up, grooms and is very sweet. It’s just normal to bite for him and will correct. Just started today with touch of wire brush. Hopefully it will work quickly. Is he telling me he wants me to bring 1 horse buddy in? He wants to socialize as he has been alone for 6 days today.


Horses should be acclimated to new stable mates patiently and with compassion. Many people just throw a horse in with a herd of new horses and ‘let them sort it all out’. As your horse is still a foal, this is particularly dangerous and unwise. In my opinion, the stable managers did not do you or the horse any favors and showed irresponsibility. That is why your horse is suddenly aggressive. There are other ways to introduce babies to new adult horses. Horses bully other horses that appear vulnerable to establish their hierarchy. With a newly weaned baby, they understandably went after him. That was to be expected. The horses are not bad, just being horses. A gradual introduction would have been much more appropriate, safer and less traumatic for the foal.

It is true biting is normal for horses as a natural defense. In light of the trauma he just went through I am not surprised at this behavior. You could just put him to work circling around you if he looks to nip. I am not a big fan of punishment to alter unwanted behavior. I rather put a horse to work as soon as unwanted behavior happens. I’ll do things like back the horse up aggressively a long distance or circle the horse around me in tight circles. These things reinforce training as opposed to merely punish undesirable behavior. Please consider putting your horse ‘to work’ as a viable, non-abusive and effective option to punishment. It just requires you to become more of a trainer than a disciplinarian, if you are willing.

Horses want companionship. They also want the great leader or parent type leader around all the time to feel safe. Your foal really craves a good companion (they all do). Perhaps pick on a mellow, sweet mare or gelding to buddy him up with. Be mindful that the foal will become herd bound with his buddy unless you take a lot of time with him to bond and become his close friend and companion. Better he look to you as much as to any other horse for feelings of trust and safety. My horse in Colorado looks to me as Dad. He follows me around everywhere and goes where ever I ask. Please consider this as what you want with your baby. It is easier and takes less time with a young horse than with an older more habituated one.

As far as using a wire brush to modify behavior, you risk additional problems with this technique. You may make him really nervous and afraid around you. You may make him not want to be touched or overly sensitive as to grooming. My rule of thumb is; if I wouldn’t like it neither would the horse. I show horses more respect and consideration than most humans it seems. Perhaps that is why I am successful with horses other trainers won’t touch because they are deemed too dangerous. I have yet to give up on a horse. I do not discipline, I train. I do not look for a quick fix. I rather take my time and have lasting, positive effect than put a bandage on a problem. Good relationship with horses is all about trust and respect. Anything else is dominance and control. Take a look at how it feels to be dominated and controlled by someone. That is how your horse comes to feel also. However, when someone guides you through a fearful situation and leads you to peaceful feelings and trust, doesn’t it feel so much better? Your horse is not so different than you.

Good luck and please keep me posted.


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