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I think it is more likely that your horse


was gelded later in life. While he appears food-aggressive, you also said he won’t let his pasture-mate’s owner in the pasture and bites you and others. As a former stallion, he may be too dominant to get along well with other horses and may even be dominant with humans. If this is the case, then you may never be


able to “fi x” his behavior, but instead you will have to manage it. By that, I mean you may have to treat and handle him as if he were still a stallion: he may not be able to go out in the pasture with other horses but will instead need to live in a separate pasture or paddock. You may need to be more cautious when handling him, too. When you lead him, make him stay out of your personal space to make it harder to bite you. If he does bite you, discipline him with a loud “No!” followed by a jerk on his lead rope and/or a slap on his neck. If he continues to misbehave, get profes-


sional help to teach you how to handle him properly. And if you aren’t able to house or handle a horse with stallion-tendencies, then you need to consider fi nding him a new home with more experienced horse people. Biting is a very dangerous behavior—you can sustain life-threatening injuries from a severe horse bite, and I don’t want to see anyone hurt. If you cannot manage his behavior, then you need to fi nd someone who can. Before rehoming him, have your veterinar-


ian give him an examination. Have her sedate and palpate your horse to make sure he shows signs of a surgery scar from being castrated. In rare cases, a stallion’s testicles don’t fully descend into his scrotum, so you won’t be able to see them and he may appear like a gelding. He may not be fertile, but he’ll still have testos- terone, which can make him aggressive. Also ask your veterinarian to check the testosterone levels in his blood. If the levels are higher than normal for a gelding, that might indicate that he wasn’t actually gelded, only one testicle was removed or something else is going on. If your veterinarian fi nds high levels of tes-


tosterone, she may be able to treat your horse and remove the physiological basis for his aggressive behavior. Once the physiological basis of his behavior is gone, he won’t imme- diately be a good equine citizen. He’ll have to adjust and may need some retraining. You may need to fi nd a professional handler or trainer


“Some horses are just more aggressive and diffi cult to handle than others. T ey’ve never been neglected, they weren’t gelded late in life and they don’t have a physiological basis for poor behavior. T ey’re just tougher horses, and they need experienced handlers who are fi rm but consistent.”


to work with him for a while to help reform his bad behavior. One last word on this horse: some horses


are just more aggressive and diffi cult to handle than others. T ey’ve never been neglected, they weren’t gelded late in life and they don’t have a physiological basis for poor behavior. T ey’re just tougher horses, and they need experienced handlers who are fi rm but con- sistent. If you rule out physiological problems and fixable behavioral problems, then this just might not be the horse for you. Horse ownership should be fun—you shouldn’t be fi ghting with a horse who intimidates you or who is hard for you to handle. It is ok to sell or re-home your horse and get one who is more suited to your personality.


Jennifer Williams, PhD lives in Lorena, Texas with her husband, fi ve horses, cats, dogs and foster horses. She is a freelance


writer for several magazines and author of two books. She runs Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, a 501c3 horse rescue that helps horses throughout Texas. Jen- nifer has a MS and PhD from Texas A&M University in Animal Science, with an emphasis on equine behavior, learning and welfare. Dr. Williams has worked with a variety of breeds and disciplines and says she cannot imagine doing anything other than spending her life with horses.


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