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Stallion with aggressive behavior at me

I'm taking care of horses for my mothers' best friend. She’s really pretty new at it and only has them because her friends do. She has a stallion that is well, not too old but he’s not my horse and I’m not sure of his age. But he backs me into the corner of the stalls when I’m cleaning, slings the bucket around and snaps at me. I’ve tried leaving the stall, popping him on the nose, etc. but she doesn’t know what to do and I really don’t either! He worries me, because I’m not usually one to have any problem whatever with horses. The other 8 horses all love me and respect me but he’s the youngest stallion and I need help! I don't like his aggressive behavior and its keeping me from properly cleaning his stalls. Also, do you know about banking the shavings as a mucking method?!!

Help! Please!

Hi Mb,

Sounds like you have your hands full. Well, stallions are a bit different than the 'rest'. Being more intense critters with their energy they operate at a higher energetic level than most others. That means you need to match their level somewhat. If you are unsure, wavering, timid or able to be intimidated by him, he will take advantage of that to establish his dominance over you. You do not need to start hitting him or punishing him or making him afraid of you. You do need to earn his respect. This is done by constant attention to him when you are near him. If you turn your back or are not paying attention or are not being aware enough, you are vulnerable. That is the rule. I have worked with a lot of stallions these last few years in particular. I have found rearing and jousting with the mouth to be normal behavior for stud colts and young stallions.

Popping them is not the answer. Putting them to work is. Also, if you can halter this stallion safely, put a rope halter on him. If he looks to move into your space snake the rope at him under his chin. He may go up a little, or more. Stay out of reach. Most of the time, snaking the rope under the chin vigorously or just enough to get him to stop moving in to you will modify his behavior. If you can safely send him around you in a circle that will get his attention off of coming into you. Make the wrong thing hard by putting the horse to 'work' when he behaves badly. Let him hang when he is helpful and does what you ask. Another thing to try is to carry a 3-5 foot wand (short stock whip) with you when entering the stall. Activate the wand only when the horse moves towards you. Raise the wand, shake it a bit, whatever to get his attention off of moving to you. Do not try to scare him. Scare tactics always backfire. We only want respect, not fear. Fearful horses are dangerous. Trusting horses are apt to be more patient, loyal and responsive.

Is there a round pen there? They are a great tool and I highly recommend them. It would be very useful in work not only this horse but all others. It helps horses and humans find common ground. I think banking the shavings is wedging them along the wall which sort of separates the manure from the shavings. I think that is what it refers to. I do not keep stalls either in CO or in Maui. Where are you? I am currently based at a ranch in Snowmass, CO just about 15 minutes from Aspen.

Anyway, I appreciate your email. I hope I have been able to offer a good suggestion. Let me know how it goes. I am interested.

Aloha, Franklin

Dear Franklin,

Wow, thanks so much! I have been major relieved to find out that once I held my 'wand' in the air, the stallion, Twister, backed right down. He even has been exuding a relaxed and comfortable, un-tense attitude all week. Yesterday I rewarded him for his great behavior (gave him a couple buckets of grass) (he lives in his darn stall all day, every day, until my boss gets the nerve to work with him) and he just was the happiest horse ever! You know, I think he just needed to see his boundaries, but once I exerted a sense of “Hey, you’re not going to run over me”, he was fine.

You know I never thought that he would be that easy, mainly because talking and moving away and even tying him up didn’t work. We’ve been around and around with each other for about 3 months now, him nipping and pushing and me getting more and more confused! But twister's been pretty great all week. Now, if he does start to intrude within my space I just stick my crop into the air (I’ve been just holding it to the left of my head, straight up, and like it was just an extension of my height, I don’t even have to wave it at him.) and TADA! He goes and eats! Like, "Wow! You grew a couple of inches! I think I’ll let you be!"

Again, thank you SOOOOOO much!
It’s nice not to have to worry about this anymore…… Mb

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