Question: Hi, I have a colt 17 mths, I have recently purchased who is sweet and friendly until it comes to feed time, when he becomes very bad tempered. He barges me out of the way with his shoulder with his ears back, and turns his rear to me and kicks out, he has got me once and it hurt. I am now scared of him, which I know is what he wants. If I smack him with the carrot stick it makes him more angry and he reverses to me to kick. If I keep him on a lead short enough so he can’t reach me I can’t drive him away. I don’t know what to do.
I have rehabbed nervous horses before very successfully but I have never dealt with a dominant confident colt before. He shows these tendencies when I ask him to move away, I think because he has had no education before and doesn’t understand what I am asking.
What should I be expecting of a 17 month old?
Please tell me what I should do. This is usually only round feed time, rest of the time he is sweet and follows me round and is starting to see me as his friend. I have owned him a week. Thanks.
Answer from April Reeves: To start off, what anyone should expect from a 17-month colt is respect and obedience, especially from a colt (uncastrated male) as they have all their hormones and are just about ready to discover them.
Respect and obedience come from you being the dominant herd member (end result). You are at a tipping point for getting there, especially if you want to make the colt a stallion one day. I find that if you want to keep a young horse a stallion, and you know this from the start, the work begins from birth. Otherwise, gelding will help with his aggression (but not his manners).
We will go over training techniques, but there are a few issues I want to address before training, as they are key issues to a horse’s behavior that almost no one asks. Before you begin a long training program, ask these questions first:
Feed: is his food making him aggressive? You can alter the hotter attitudes by adjusting the sugars and carbs in your feed. Oats, sweet feeds and cheap pellets can turn a nice horse into an idiot. Horses are just like us; some are sensitive, some are not. Also, when and how you feed makes a difference. I always free feed hay to my horses. And because of this I have consistent rides and happy animals. You may want to think about this first.
Confinement: How much time does he get to run and exercise? Play with friends? This is social behavior that cannot be ignored. Many horses are not able to ‘blow out’ the steam on a daily basis and can begin to express that frustration through aggressive and unruly behavior. Some horses can handle confinement and some can’t – make sure you know if and how this may affect him.
If both feed and confinement are not part of the problem, then it’s on to training. I am going to send you a link for groundwork that I have on my blog: https://aprilreeveshorsetraining.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/groundwork-saddle-work-herd-bound-horse/
Read that over – it’s full of useful information to get you up and rolling. I also have a great video series from Jay O’Jay on Horseman’s U.com: http://www.horsemansu.com/jay_ojay_video_roundpen Jay works in a roundpen, but many of the techniques work anywhere.
I hope this helps you, and do take a look at the other video and articles. It’s not always easy to read and then try to remember and ‘do’ – you often need a visual to really understand the theory. The video will help you.
Regarding feed times, I just posted an article about why horses get nasty. Here’s a direct link to the article: