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Overly Aggressive Three Month Old Colt... Bulletin Board » General Stallion Questions » Overly Aggressive Three Month Old Colt... « Previous Next »

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Posted From:
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 10:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a three month old Thoroughbred colt who is extremly agressive. The mare is very subdude, and so was the mares frst foal. But this colt came out mean, when he was three days old he got a hold on the worker. And ever since then, he has been oddly agressive, I've had stallions who are better then him.

Just recently I was walking him out to the paddock (with the dam being lead a few feet in front), and he lunged at megrabbed my shoulder and reared up clawing me in the back. I bruised three ribs. This is not the only time he has done things like that, but this is the only time I've not been fast enough to avoid him (also the first time an injury has occured).

It is at the point where I have had to carry a crop when near him, only using it when he is being extremly bad... I don't beat him when I use it, I give him a good whack once or twice, nothing more.

I would like advice from anyone on what should be done...

Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 08:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Colts like this need to think their world is coming to an end once or twice. He will only get bigger and badder if something is not done about this attitude towards his handlers. When he becomes agressive...yell...scream....wave your arms, jerk the lead until he is running backwards and beat his little butt (of course never in the head or face). Sounds harsh...but what he has and will do to you will be far worse. You might try a kids wiffle ball bat...its hallow, plastic and sounds worse than it hurts. Might help get the point across. Just my two cents.

Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 09:25 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thank you for your imput, and so fast! I will make sure to try that... The owner of the barn flipped him on the ground and wouldn't allow him to get up after yesterday he bit one of her students. I have tried yelling, screaming and flailing a crop at his chest, but he lunges into it and attempts to claw my face. He had been getting better for a breif time, but then after his dam was sent to be bred (with him in tow), he became extremly worse. I will try that.

I want to geld him asap, but this colt is of excellant blood, conformation and is beautiful, almost flawless. And I just recently lost my stallion.

Sandra KS
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm curious, does this seem to be a fear reaction by the colt? I read a magazine article ages ago by a breeder who had a shy mare. She tended to produce quiet foals except for one who was so fearful that he was aggressive. Maybe momma doesn't protect him enough so he feels he has to do it himself? I'd be worried that all the punishment would just make him worse (i.e. more scared, thus needing to be more aggressive)...if he's fear aggressive, you might need to try something more along the lines of boosting his confidence. Just something to think about - I have no actual experience of this to offer.

Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 06:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for your imput. I have also thought about that. His mother is very protective, a good mom, letting us by him when we need, but making sure we don't hurt him. It doesn't seem to be fear, because he hasn't had a tramatic experiance, or really a reason to be fearfully agressive. He has nothing but rage in his eyes as he basically lunges at us. But maybe, thats a good point...

20+yrs.w/ horses
Posted From:
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 01:24 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Goodpoint, but not for this guy (from what I've read). Horses in fear flee when at all possible. This guy sounds like he is just full of vim & vigor-and NEEDS to be stopped before someone is seriously injured. Consider that a good dam even puts her foals in place when they get nippy with them. I seen a good swift kick on more than one occasion. I would be curious to know how how he responds to the owner of the barn. he thinks twice about biting that person. All too many people are worried that they don't want "to hurt" their horse in situations like this ...when horses use their hooves and teeth to estabilsh dominance all the time (imagine what a hoof feels like). He needs to be shown that he is "not above you" in the pecking order. He is testing you and needs to be smacked, whipped, spanked, shanked (whatever word is most comfortable for people) HARD ENOUGH to think about it -otherwise he IS above you on the totum pole and he knows it. It's not going to work if you "only use your crop when he is extremely bad". Remember horses ARE USED TO HOOFS AND TEETH to establish pecking order.

Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 07:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree. Horses are flight/prey animals. He needs to think that you intend to have him for dinner when you confront him. Otherwise, geld him or seek professional help before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Eagle View Arabians
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 03:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree too. I knew of a gelding that was a top level dressage horse that was so aggressive he had warnings posted all over his stall. One day his owner went in to his stall and he bit his nose off!!! BUT, because he was this show horse he was only sold to someone else with a warning. This colt needs to know you mean business before someone seriously gets injured, and I would think twice before leaving him a stud unless his attitude does a complete turn around. He might have great bloodlines and be beautiful but you also are breeding personality and attitude. I don't mean to sound harsh but I would hate for someone to lose a nose or worse :-)

Posted From:
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 01:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Absolutely. If you seek help, make sure the person "nose" their business about aggressive animals. Not a mere "trainer". This situation requires major corrective action.

Posted From:
Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - 09:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i came here to see if anyone else had a young aggressive colt. i have one that is only 16 days old. he makes sure to keep his rump to me, and makes a flying hard kick at any chance he thinks there is. he hasnt made contact yet, but he sure trys. his mother and father are both pretty mild, and non aggressive. mom is a quarter/draft horse. dad is a mustang. any advise on making progress? email me at

Username: Emma

Post Number: 3
Registered: 09-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 02:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

do you have access to a stable? If you do put him and his dam in the stable, tie his dam up and get a long thin piece of polly pipe (plastic pipeing) or a long longe whip would also do the trick, put yourself in a safe position (you will probably find he will hide behind the mare)then run the whip/pipe down behind his back legs and hold it there he will probably have a good few kicks at it and run around a bit but it is important that you keep it just above his hocks. When he stops kicking remove the whip/pipe and move away from him and let him relax, do this a few times a day. This works because kicking becomes pointless and tiering. just make sure you do not move the whip/pipe untill he stops. If he tries to run at you then a quick hard smack on the chest should fix him up, Don't be scared to do this, he wont break and if you let this behavouir continue it will be harder to fix down the track.

Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 09:46 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

im not afraid of him, i just want to get the most effective results. i dont have a stable, or access to one either. the mare didnt seem to mind me fooling with him, as long as the colt and i stay out from under her.
i talked to my dad about it, he said i should tie my mare, get a rope on him and let him fight till he gives up, then give him affection, to let him know he's not above me, and to help tame him. any opinions on this?

Username: Reneec

Post Number: 45
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 08:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Be very careful just tying a foal that hasnt been tied before. To be honest i wouldnt recommend it! He will throw himself around, and resist the rope, and can do damage to his neck muscles.
I would try holding him with a halter and lead on. And put a butt rope on him (a soft rope around his bum, under his tail, and long enough to be held by you, standing at the front of him with the halter lead). This way if he fights it, you can restrain him with the butt rope- not his head. This will not hurt him, and in most cases works really quickly. When he stands, give him treats, and scratches and affection. Only do it for a few mins, a few times a day, and always leave it on a good note. Dont ever stop while he is still playing up. Once he stands nicely for you for a min or so, reward him and let him go.
I had a colt that thought it was a good game to kick every one and everything that walked past him, and teaching him that it was much more rewarding to keep his face toward me, and stand nicely seemed to get him out of this habit quick smart! Once he is standing well, advance to having someone hold him, and you move around him, talking to him and scratching him. Try to keep his attention on you, and move slowly. Eventually making it to his rear end. If he is comfortable enough with you scratching him everywhere else, move behind- stay real close so if he does try to kick he will only be a bump. If he does try to kick, rouse on him with a loud NO and a smack and start again.
Depending how resposive to this method he is, this may take a few days or a few weeks, but the main thing to remember is to be very patient with him, and keep him reminded that YOU are the boss, and you wont hurt him, so there is no need for his kicking.

Posted From:
Posted on Friday, September 23, 2005 - 09:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i managed to get ahold of him yesterday (no rope)and restrain him with my arms around his chest and butt...hes rather a small colt. he fought to get free, but lost. i held and petted him for a good 10-15 minutes..he gave up on fighting me pretty easily. at first when he quit fighting, i believe he thought i was killing him cause he went limpish as if to lay down, but then just stood quielty. i plan on trying again today...hes deffinatly going to take some time. especially as i do this alone.

Rooty (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, September 23, 2005 - 11:00 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

We have had 2 colts like this, and that is exactly what we do. I don't hold and scratch them for as long as 10-15 min, instead I prefer more frequent, shorter sessions. Try to scratch him on the top of the neck and the withers, where horses groom each other. What really made the difference for the last colt was cleaning him up from the foal scours, he liked to have his bum scrubbed with the sponge, and he's been great ever since. Like you, I also work alone, but luckily his mom trusts me (we bred her also), so she didn't get things stirred up.

Margie Singleton
Username: Margie_s

Post Number: 2
Registered: 06-2005
Posted on Friday, September 23, 2005 - 01:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I was going to suggest exactly the same thing as Rooty---scratching! Rubbing and scratching are the best ways in the world to teach a horse to love human contact. Concentrate on the "hard to get to" spots for rubbing, when he settles down some. These are mainly between and up under the hind legs and down the legs. He will learn to love being scratched on his chest, belly and, like Rooty suggested, on his neck and withers. A 12', soft cotton rope, just laid around his neck to where it falls across the top of his chest (no noose), will give you a lot of handling ability. Just make sure you stay beside or behind his shoulder. That way, he will always move "into" the rope, and you can stop him or send him in another direction. So you'll be teaching him to yield to pressure at the same time he's being handled. This also allows him to stand quietly next to you, without your hands on him, to give him little rest periods within the lesson. He needs to have to time to slow his mind down so he will realize this is a good thing that is happening. I like to end my sessions by just quietly dropping the rope and stepping away.

Breeding Stock
Username: Morganslil1

Post Number: 179
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Sunday, September 25, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The best advice I can give is spend time with young colts and fillys treat them as if they are grown dont let them by with bad behavior period
use the 3 second rule.If you can not handle a youngster find someone that can or your horse will become very dangerious.There isnt a horse on this planet worth getting killed over.Deena

Kelly Lea Adams
Username: Kelly_lea

Post Number: 1
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 07:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I know this is a bit late, but I also had an aggressive arabian colt long ago. Sweet as pie until one day he decided everyone was target practice. I couldn't believe it at first because he'd never done anything to me until one day I bent over to pick something up off the ground and I suppose there was a big bullseye on my rump. Needless to say I was quicker and he learned exactly who was boss very shortly.
I gave him a job. I lounged him, I taught him manners all over again (although I'm not sure where his original ones went!) and I cooped him up in the barn for 3 days and ran my hands over him from head to toe until he got the idea that I was not a dart board and his hooves were not darts. Mind you he was about 2 at the time but I'm sure these techniques can be applied to any age. Just be soothing, but strong, and gentle without being mean. Yes horses are used to teeth and hooves, however they are smart and will realise that when the back is turned that's their signal to attack. So I would not advise harmful action like slapping and such unless you too can grow eyes in the back of your head along with some hooves. :-)

Lauren Dixon
Username: Mestena

Post Number: 2
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 02:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am going to have to STRONGLY disagree with the advice given about whipping, smacking, shanking, beating, and abusing this colt. These methods never produce good results...When I get bitten by a horse, I just say "Damn, that hurt", then I learn to get smarter about it, rather than hauling off and beating the hell out of the horse. Most people can't believe it...They say "You should have smacked that horse for that!".

The normal way to react to being bitten is to punish the horse. Most people strike back and hit the horse on the nose. Not only does this not solve the problem (horses are still biting years later), it usually turns it into a big game for the horse. The game then becomes - be able to bite and then dodge the swinging arm coming back... it's great fun for the horse! They play this same game with each other in the pasture...

Some schools of thought urge you to very aggressively punish the horse for montrous behavior as soon as he bites. This punishment approach is aggressive, unfair, un-natural and can be extremely dangerous if the horse retaliates, especially with stallions.

Aggression usually begins where knowledge ends. People turn to punishment and force when they run out of ways to be effective. All they really need is a bit more understanding about how to be effective using communication, understanding and psychology.

Punishment doesn't work with prey animals such as horses. Punishing a horse only sends you backwards because it causes a horse to lose respect for you. If horses read emotion such as fear, anger or aggression in you, it has an interesting effect on them. It produces fear in them or they learn how to push your emotional buttons and get very artful about the biting or any other behavior that makes you upset.

Here are some ways to deal with this that I've found to be very effective in my 18 years with horses...

1. Don't let the horse get close enough to bite!
Most people hold horses too close, usually by the snap right under the halter. They are inadvertently pulling the horse closer to them and are giving him all the opportunity in the world to take a bite. Keep him at least 8 feet away. You'll need a long yacht braid lead rope to do this. 12 feet or more is best. And back him out of your space when he gets too close! Make an imaginary bubble around your personal space...How big it is depends on how comfortable you are with the horse. When he enters your personal space without being invited, back him up by sending energy up the rope. Adjust your energy depending on the severity of his space-intrusion. For instance, if he accidentally wanders into your bubble, just wiggle the rope back and forth by unlocking your wrist joint, while keeping you elbow and shoulder joints locked. If he's being more aggressive about his intrusion, unlock your elbow joint to wiggle the rope, using your whole lower arm to shake the rope back and forth...If the aggression is serious, use your entire arm back and forth across your chest to send some serious energy down the lead rope, causing him to back up fast and furious.

2. Earn your horse's respect
If a horse respects you, he wouldn't dream of biting you. It's like a teenager... all those naughty things they do come back to one root - disrespect. And no amount of punishment is going to cause a teenager to become more respectful, in fact they get more resentful. So the real question is how do you earn a horse's respect.

The answer is groundwork. It's the same way horses earn respect from each other. The one who is the fastest, the strongest, the bravest and the quickest thinker during play and dominance games, is the one who becomes Alpha. The Alpha horse is respected and trusted. All the other horses look to him for leadership. Get some tapes or books by horsemen such as Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Clinton Anderson, or Dennis Reis for a groundwork guideline.

When it comes to naughty behavior, this is the "prevention". It means you do what it takes to establish respect from your horse so it never has to happen. The sad fact is that most people won't do what it takes, they stay stuck in the old "hit him for it" mentality because they think it takes too much time to learn simple groundwork techniques that will transform a horse's attitude. I always say, take the time it takes so it takes less time. The problem could be solved in a day instead of being something you are still swatting him on the nose for years later.

3. A bite is an invitation to gain knowledge

If a horse bites you, there are two things you can be sure of:
1. He had a reason
2. You don't have enough savvy
Some reasons for a horse biting could be fear, defensiveness or disrespect. If you punish a horse for biting out of fear it is very unjust. This would be like spanking a child because he was scared and wet his pants. How could he ever trust you? If the horse was defensive, ask yourself first what you might have done that caused him to want to defend himself. Sometimes, it could be as simple as entering his stall without permission. Try to look at it from the horse's point of view. How does he perceive you and your behavior? Are you polite? Are you pushy and demanding? Are you too critical of him? Do you give him enough mental and emotional stimulation every day? Sometimes biting is a legacy of his past. Rather than physical abuse being the cause, it's more likely that he never learned to trust and respect humans.

If you know horses, it will come as no surprise that horses know who they can bite and who they can't. They have an acute savvy detector which goes on the moment they see a person approaching. They can tell by the way you walk, the way you approach, the way you get (or don't get) their attention, the way you halter, the way you touch... it's endless. Don't ever think that a horse hasn't got you pegged within the first 10 seconds! The solution, of course, is to get more savvy. Savvy horsemen rarely, if ever, get bitten.

4. Mouthy horses lack respect and lack fulfillment
Young colts and stallions are particularly notorious for nipping and biting. In a young horse it's important to know that mouthing and nipping is very natural. It is especially prevalent in horses kept in isolation and in orphan foals raised by hand. They see you as a playmate and can't wait to start playing horse games with you. Often, the rougher you get at smacking them for it, the harder they'll play. (Refer back to punishment not being effective) They have no concept that you are not as resilient as another horse so don't expect them to be gentle with you!

A horse that is confined and isolated lacks social interaction and is apt to develop undesirable behaviors around people. Their pent up energy can make them frustrated and very difficult to handle. You can do a lot to ease that frustration by playing with him on the ground through structured groundwork. You become recreation for him!

Also, give them plenty of attention in the muzzle and mouth area. If the horse wants to chew ropes, stuff more and more rope in his mouth until he loses interest in it. Make the wrong thing difficult, not painful or scarey. Rub his muzzle vigorously but lovingly if he gets lippy with the attitude of "If you want to put your lips on me, I'm going to rub them for you...But, see, I have to rub them hard because that's the only way I know how to do it" and rub and squish his lips hard enough that it's uncomfortable for him and it becomes HIS idea to back away from YOU.

Stallions are a whole other ball game. They require someone with a lot of knowledge - A LOT of horse savvy. I hesitate to give advice on how to handle a biting stallion because using the techniques without the right attitude, feel, timing, balance, savvy and experience could get you in a lot of trouble. Stallions are extremely dominant and full of energy and play. Their job is to be dominant and they don't take kindly to things getting in the way of their sexual responsibilities. All the solutions I've suggested for biting horses relates just as much to stallions as to other horses, it's just that it takes more expertise and savvy on your part to be able to play games with a stallion, but if you put some time into studying a little about horse psychology, you can do it safely.

I hope you now have some different, more natural views to think about regarding the biting horse. Horses bite and nip for a reason and the best way to solve the problem is to find the reason and to dissolve it. Fear, frustration, defensiveness, anger, disrespect, playfulness and aggressiveness are the roots. Develop your savvy, and get to the root of the problem.

Understand why the horse bites. There are many different reasons.
Don't let him get close enough!
Earn his respect through groundwork.
Don't punish him, that only breeds resentment.
People with horse savvy rarely get bitten, so get more savvy!
Give the area between the tip of his nose and the noseband of the halter plenty of attention.

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