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Aggressive squealing and kicking


I have a 12 year old mare that I have had for 4 weeks. She really hasn't been ridden that often by her previous owner and has a 2 1/2 year old that has been gelded. I own them both. I had them boarded in 1 place with 3 other horses, but was pretty much forced to move them out after about 2 1/2 weeks (long story). I have them in a great place now with 4 other horses that have a mare about the same age as mine as the "Queen of the heard". My two horses get along with the other 3 horses in the bunch, but not the other mare. I rode my mare before I bought them and she really didn't want to leave the barn, but once away she did fine. At the first place I had them at she was hard to "catch", but when I took the 2 1/2 year old gelding out to work with him, she would come to the gate and I could put the halter on and lead her out without a problem (she is still difficult to catch). She kind of shyed when we tried to get on her, but we got her to hold still and mounted her without a problem. She was still barn sour and shook her head, but we rode her and made her leave the barn and the yard (humanely), she went o.k., but wanted to go back a lot. She does the same thing at the new place. Her colt still suckles her sometimes and she still has milk. I have noticed that he doesn't do this as much. One time at the first place I had her boarded, I was brushing her and got toward her back right underside and she put her ears back, kicked her leg out and squealed. I thought she might have been getting mastitis, but she didn't seem to mind when her colt would suckle at that side and she hasn't seemed ill.

She hadn't done this since that one time until today. We brushed her all over without any problems. When I pushed on her to move her over, she crowded me and tried to push me into the fence. After I pushed on her to move her is when the problems started. I went to touch her left side and she squealed and kicked her hind leg. I questioned whether she was hurting, but we didn't have this problem when we were brushing her. I put her saddle and bridle on (I never have the cinch too tight either and I ride with a plain snaffle). She would aggressively crowd and kick out on her left whoever tried to mount her. I bought her for my boy who is 11 because she was so gentle, but he now is afraid of her (and frankly, I'm getting there too after today). I finally got on her and she was fine once I was in the saddle. When I got off her I was rubbing her neck on the right and my boy went to her right side to stroke her and she kicked out on her right and squealed. She kept doing this to the man I board with as he was trying to help figure out what the problem may be. When we went to put her back into the pasture, she bent her head down to eat some grass and he could stroke her anywhere without her squealing or kicking out. That makes me think she is not hurting, but being a brat.

What could be causing her to do this? We do not ride her hard at all; I rarely even trot her, mainly walk 99% of the time. I am a firm believer in trying to think like the horse and talk & treat gently using firm tones and a jerk on the halter if needed. I have never had a mare before (I do not believe she is in heat, but she still shouldn't be kicking if she was). What can I do to get her to quit this before anyone gets hurt? She needs to learn some manners FAST, but I don't know what to do. HELP! I really don't want to keep her if she keeps doing this. Her son acts better than she does and he's only 2 1/2 and a wonderful horse. The gal I bought them from never had a problem with this, but like I said, she didn't ride her much, especially the last 2 years.

Please help me...Thank you


Thank you for your question. As this is a new horse for you and this horse has not done a lot in the last few years, I would suggest going back to the basics for a little while to get yourself established with this mare. If there is a round pen handy, use it. Do regular ground work (play) with her for 20 to 30 minute sessions before you do anything else including grooming. Do the basics of leading, lunging, stopping, backing, ground driving (if you know how), turning, yielding the front end and yielding the hind end. Warm the mare to you and you to her. Don't assume anything with her. She will show you where she really is after a bit of time doing ground play. After an initial 'period of adjustment' or acclimation to you and the new place, etc., the mare will show you her true colors.

A horse will naturally move into pressure that is close in. If you are between her and the fence and you pressure her at all, even not meaning to, it is normal for her to move into you and dangerous. You must get her used to moving away from a waving of your hand. Do this when you are in the open. Practice hazing (waving) her around you on a short line. Again, without touching her, get her used to yielding ground to you when asked to. She'll get used to this and not crowd you once you have created the bond with her. Cut her a lot of slack as she is new to you. Mares are moodier and can be cranky. They are also fiercely loyal once bonded. I have found they get more attached then geldings. What breed is she? Sounds like maybe some Arabian in her. It is not unusual for mares to squeal and kicky if they are trying to get a foal to stop nursing. Consider she may actually be trying to stop nursing. Also, why is the 2 1/2 year old still with the mare and suckling? Was he not weaned properly?

I don't think the mare is hurting and I don't think she is a "brat". Horses aren't really that way; devious, bratty, stubborn. What they are is fearful, confused, frustrated, hurting or fending for themselves when there is no leader around. Without the stated presence of that quietly strong leader, the horse takes over for its own survival. You doing the basics of ground work will establish you as the new leader quickly. Please try this suggestion. You have nothing to loose and a horse to gain. Let me know how it all goes. I am interested. I hope I have been able to offer some practical and effective suggestions.

Sincerely, Franklin

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