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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Default The food-aggressive horse: fixable?

    So my sweet gelding has been getting increasingly food aggressive. He's 5.5, had him for three years. He had ulcer issues and uninterested in feed at the beginning, successfully treated and eats, well, like a horse.

    His turnout was changed with the introduction of a new, VERY nervous and timid gelding. Rory? Confident with other horses, friendly, wants to wrestle and play. Never been aggressive in the field, has made ugly faces while eating but just pins ears and occasionally has spun from his bucket and charged at my other (now leased) horse that was food protective as well, so they basically grumped at each other. New horse was frightened by the play overtures and BM started alternating their turnout. The situation is a shelter and attached 12 x approx 60 paddock that opens to the pasture, so always in sight of each other even locked in. The shelter and paddocks share a wall/fenceline. Rory started kicking out or spins and charges when he is eating and new horse moves or makes noise inside his paddock. He kicks out hard enough that he bruised his heel and had a swollen leg for a couple days. BM now locks him out of the paddock at night (when new horse is locked in) and feeds him outside, which I'm not satisfied with because he now goes 16+ hrs with no access to shelter, but I also understand that him kicking and charging her panels, even with hot wire now installed, doesn't work for her and him hurting himself being a jerk doesn't work for me either.

    We talked tonight and she said new horse isn't as cowed by Rory anymore, and said that the aggression has gotten out of control since she started locking him in, and is willing to try turning them out together to sort things out and see if it improves Rory's behavior.

    In case that doesn't work...what next? I am going to talk to the vet at the annual wallet sacrifice, I mean herd health appointment, about it and am going to have blood drawn to check testosterone levels as well. Might explain the wrestle and play drive, which he would do endlessly for hours if he had a willing partner, biting legs and chest, going to knees, rearing, etc. He is never mean, it is always with ears up, loose, floppy, but he has dropped while doing it, which I always thought was, well, weird.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  2. #2
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Default

    ETA: vet appt is a week and a half away
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2002
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    Default

    I realize boarding situations are what they are, and we don't always have a lot of options, but this sounds like a man-made problem. If he lived on 20 acres with a big group and grass or hay all around him, he'd eat and play and run around and he'd probably be happy as a clam. Reality stinks! I don't have a good suggestion for ou other than that observation. A bigger group on more land probably isn't an option in WA in January!


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  4. #4
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    Default

    Well he has about 1.5 acres he shares with this horse and my donkey. That's a lot of turnout around here.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Apr. 10, 2013
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    Ontario, Canada
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    Default

    Is there any possibility of changing the turnout grouping so he is with someone more compatible?



  6. #6
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    Mar. 15, 2007
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    Default

    Seems to me like the key sentence in the original post is:
    New horse was frightened by the play overtures and BM started alternating their turnout.

    What happened to make the BM decide to separate the horses? Is the new horse just new to being turned out with another horse and not used to socializing? Is Rory aggressive/annoying in his play? Is the space big enough that new horse can get away from Rory safely?

    i wonder about the feeding situation - meaning, how close are their feed buckets? Are they hanging on the same fence line making them both feel the need to protect their food? I'm not sure how feed aggression ties into the original problem, other than the two have not adequately worked out their "pecking order" so they both feel the need to exert dominance at feeding time.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation



  7. #7
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    May. 25, 2014
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    Default

    It's too bad they can't just eat separately
    I am just one person. I cannot do everything. But I can make a difference. And I can have fun doing so!



  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by J-Lu View Post
    Seems to me like the key sentence in the original post is:
    New horse was frightened by the play overtures and BM started alternating their turnout.

    What happened to make the BM decide to separate the horses? Is the new horse just new to being turned out with another horse and not used to socializing? Is Rory aggressive/annoying in his play? Is the space big enough that new horse can get away from Rory safely?
    OK, sorry I don't think I explained well, so here's a satellite image! Rory's paddock and shelter is the far right, new horse is next to him. They have this large field to go out into, it's not all in the frame but a bit more than 1.5 acres I think. BM just decided to alternate turnout, without asking my input, then decided to lock Rory out, again with saying anything, and after we talked she agreed that maybe Rory and the new horse need to work things out because the status quo just ain't working. So until I posted this (and since I was working I can only assume she's following our plan), new horse went out with Odie during the day, then Rory went out with Odie during the day.

    And yes, Rory is annoying in his play, unless it's another horse that wants to play. BM has two gelding in the next pasture over, one that's timid and one that's not and wants to play, and I suggested putting the playful ones together and the timid ones together, but she won't because she's afraid her horse (the other playful one) will get hurt. Soooo... *shrug*
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by brody View Post
    It's too bad they can't just eat separately
    They do eat separately.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 2005
    Location
    Issaquah, WA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    OK, sorry I don't think I explained well, so here's a satellite image! Rory's paddock and shelter is the far right, new horse is next to him. They have this large field to go out into, it's not all in the frame but a bit more than 1.5 acres I think. BM just decided to alternate turnout, without asking my input, then decided to lock Rory out, again with saying anything, and after we talked she agreed that maybe Rory and the new horse need to work things out because the status quo just ain't working. So until I posted this (and since I was working I can only assume she's following our plan), new horse went out with Odie during the day, then Rory went out with Odie during the day.

    And yes, Rory is annoying in his play, unless it's another horse that wants to play. BM has two gelding in the next pasture over, one that's timid and one that's not and wants to play, and I suggested putting the playful ones together and the timid ones together, but she won't because she's afraid her horse (the other playful one) will get hurt. Soooo... *shrug*
    Rory and Dice would have a blast together!!



  11. #11
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    Default

    That's what I said! But not my call, part of being a boarder. Plus, she loves him so much, I can't really blame her for being cautious .

    Besides, she texted me today that it seems to be working out

    ETA: by working out, I mean Rory still eats outside, but they are turned out together. Dunno what is with that boy and his food... I'm still gonna pull blood and pursue that route on the off-off chance.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2001
    Location
    Germany
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    Default

    Are they on free choice hay? We've often had new horses come in and be completely all over the place about their food (including mares trying to kick their own foals duhu...) and most of them chilled down the the point of being able to eat in a group of 10 quite peacefully by merely having hay to munch on 24/7.
    If they have to be on rationed food for whatever reason and are allowed the same quantiti of grain I would just try letting them eat together and providing two extra food bowls in which to spread the food so they get a chance to wear it off rather than accumulating aggression by being separated by a fence yet having the other horse within their comfort zone. I've found it works a lot like in dogs that will inevitably act more aggressively when kenneled or even just separated by a fence.



  13. #13
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    May. 5, 2009
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    Location: Indiana, but my heart is in Zone II
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    Default

    My best friend boarder her horse at my place and he exhibited similar behavior. Seriously, he was just an a$$ in those situations. He was happiest on 24 turnout (with a shelter) and a roundbale. His turnout was perhaps 2 or 3 acres. I found with the roundbale, he was not as grumpy.

    Other than that, he was a doll. Now, in his teens, he is MUCH more mellow.
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies



  14. #14
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    Default

    Mmm. Well, they have hay boxes, but the problem is the mini donkey runs the new horse off his hay. So BM has to hay new horse and leave him in while he eats, then open the paddock. How the little ass can run a TB-sized Appy off his food is beyond me .
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  15. #15
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    Oct. 12, 2005
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    Issaquah, WA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    That's what I said! But not my call, part of being a boarder. Plus, she loves him so much, I can't really blame her for being cautious .
    LOL. If Dice were mine I would be careful too

    And to be fair, he has only been in group turnout with extremely mild, timid horses or by himself, so that is a reasonable stress on her part.



  16. #16
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    Apr. 10, 2013
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    Ontario, Canada
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    Default

    Sounds as if you have a food agressive donkey as well! New horse must be very timid to take that from a mini donk!



  17. #17
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    No, I think he's just a normal donkey New horse is really just that timid. He also won't try to leave his paddock if the donkey is standing there in the gate. Yanno, standing. New horse just looks outside all pitiful .
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



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