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Young Horse Regresses
After Herd Change

She writes:

Dear Marv,

I bought a horse about a year ago. She is an american saddlebred. At first I could not get her into the barn without alot of effort and dancing me around. She was out in the field almost from birth hardly any feed, no shots, nothing like that. I have trained her to bath, stand for blacksmith, she comes to the gate, she leads in and out of the gate no problem.

About two weeks ago they introduced 4 mares into the paddock that had been there before. One of the mares kicks and squeels at everything coming and going. Ever since then when I bring her in she comes into the barn fine but when I get her in there she tries to kick at me, bites at me, and I cannot get her out she jerks away from me slinging her head around, prancing around wildly.

She also is missing a front tooth that has not made any effort to come back in yet. Did something happen to her out there to make here start acting like this out of the blue. Or is she just reverting back.

When I got her they told me she was 2 but when I got her papers she is 3.

My reply:

Off the top of my head without being there I'd have to say she has no sense of place. She doesn't know exactly where she fits in the grand scheme of things. When taken from the herd she gets uncomfortable at the lack of a leader and then tries to become one herself.

Problem is she doesn't know how to do it and she mimics one of the other mares. If you're a horse who doesn't want her to do that, no big deal you just give her what she gives out with a little more determination than she has.

The mare who squeals and kicks at everything coming and going? She has no sense of place either, but she is more determined. She isn't taking any chances so she is "doing unto others before they do unto her." Your mare gives way to the other mare in the paddock and copies the other mare away from the paddock.

How then does one resolve this?

By showing the mare that you are just a little more of a leader than she is. You defeat her actions while inflicting yours on her. You show her that you are in control of what is going on and that you are the leader.

It is also important that you do this while allowing the mare to make her own choices. If at all possible you control the mare without being connected to her in any way. You can work her on a line but it is awkward and confining and takes a lot longer because the horse is "trapped."

The first thing I do is present any horse I work with with leadership actions by putting it through a herd dynamics procedure that creates a leader / follower relationship. You'll find more information and freely available videos about the herd dynamics procedure, aka "the bonder," at my Index page.

Be sure and go through the procedure in a relaxed, "you are going to do what I tell you, no matter what" manner.

If you need a little more explanation I also have two, as they actually happened videos where I show exactly how to do this. While Focusing The Unfocused Horse shows a 9 year old girl solving a similar problem, Gaining The Respect Of Disrespectful Horses also shows the same thing. You may find them helpful.

The missing incisor will not grow back. The opposite tooth will need the attention of an equine dentist, not a vet, generally speaking (nothing against vets) because it will keep erupting and will interfere with the mare's chewing by extending into the gap of the missing tooth because there is nothing there to wear it down normally.

Oh, and about the horse's age... you'll find a lot of stuff you're told about a horse's age isn't true. I knew a horse trader who sold mostly "9 year old" horses. It's difficult to tell the approximate age of a horse 9 and above by it's teeth.

You will find readily and freely available videos and information about many of the subjects discussed here at the Index Page.

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For Further Information Contact Marv Walker 706 816-7190 Evenings 9 to 12 PM
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