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Aggressive Geldings

Dear Franklin,

I need your advice and HELP!! I have a 15 year old Thoroughbred gelding named Big Jake who was gelded late in life and views himself a stallion. He is very smart and was brought to our home last year as the only horse. One month later we rescued a Paint gelding 17 years old and near death. We call him War Paint. I have brought War Paint back to health and he is strong once again.

Big Jake is the Alpha horse all the way! Its been 4 months and they are finally pals. Big Jake still bit at him and they PLAY a lot in the paddock. Here is my problem...We received a desperate call in the wee hours of the morning from our farrier to rescue a horse. We arrived to a fenced area to find an Arabian mare, 15 years old (never bred) who was an only horse her whole life in really bad shape. Trailered her home put her in a stall adjoining the "BOYS" paddock. Lots of nipping and sniffing occurred. Its been 3 weeks, she had to have her hoof half removed and she still limps. I let her outside to sun herself and both BOYS approached her, licked her sides and sniffed her tail. Both Boys curled their lips, she squealed like a little pig and became very submissive and ran for a corner! The Boys followed in hot pursuit as I entered the paddock and they attacked her, kicking and biting viciously! I had to get a buggy whip to get their attention and safely get the little girl back in the stall.

Its been another week in the stall so today I let her out again while I remained in the paddock ready to intervene since she is still limping. She was out of the stall only a few minutes when I observed the Paint lay back his ears and run towards her. The whole time Big Jake watched I scolded Paint and he went directly back to Big Jake and they both had their heads lowered facing one another. Big Jake actually turned his head back to see if I was there and again Paint ran towards the mare. What can I do???? Please give me an idea of what the heck’s going on!! She is VERY submissive. I hate to try to find her a home before she is recovered, but winter is coming on and the Boys will need their shelter!

Sorry this is so long I just wanted to give you all the details!!

Thanks! Teresa

Hi Teresa,

Your mare cannot defend herself in her vulnerable condition and doesn't know how to anyway. Most mares can defend themselves if they are healthy and have been around other horses a good deal. This mare maybe could handle one of the geldings if she was doing better, but I would not put both in with her. The geldings will continue to terrorize her if given the chance.

Until the mare is 100% well, I would not expose her to both geldings. Even one will be risky for a while as both the geldings know how vulnerable she is. Horses go for another horse that is vulnerable. If it is a human, it means the leader is not there and the horses fend for themselves. This is how they know who is going to lead the group to a large extent. The leader is never vulnerable. If she is, another will move her off to take her place and lead. That is survival of the herd. I know this doesn't give you many options. But I think you must keep them separate for a good while, until the mare is 100% strong and healthy. Being an 'only horse' throughout her life contributes to the mare not knowing how to handle these geldings and maximizes the risks to her. It takes time to become socially strong and conscious. It will take time for the mare to become this. I think you need to keep her protected for now.

Good Luck and let me know how it all goes. I am very interested. Thanks again for reaching out.

Sincerely, Franklin

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