Posted by Rach - 20 September
I have a 5 year old Irish mare who has had a tough life! When I
first got her she was very very aggressive! She'd bite
now, she won't do it to people so much, but she will
stand there and bite herself! She nips her leg and kicks
I don't actually understand why! - Why it is that she
feels she has to bite herself? It is at feed time and
other times of the day, especially if strangers are near
Any ideas how to calm her -I've tried the stroppy mare-
it didn't make a bit of difference!
Posted by ammatthews
I know I'm
applying human concepts here and it's probably rather
fanatical, but it sounds like she's attempting self
But seriously, is she lashing out in anger or, more
likely from what you say about he past, in fear. If she
shows others that she is violent and strong, they might
not hurt her?
If this is the case, the only way to cure her is to show
that humans are nice. But then you say she's ok with
hmm... not quite sure where this post is going. Sorry!
Just a few random thoughts.
Posted by Alison Woods
I've a mare
who kicks her stable to gain attention when she thinks
you're not paying her enough attention - we went through
months - if not years - of the 'only child' syndrome and it
took loads of patience and loads of kind but firms
The biting herself if as you say increases when
strangers are around will improve as she gets more self confident. Try moving her to a box at a quiet end
of the yard and use some jumps poles etc to cordon an
area off so strangers can't get too close. Slowly
you should be able to introduce new people and then
eventually remove her "safe zone".
Also to discourage her biting herself try bathing the
areas of her body she bits in something which tastes
disgusting. There is something you can get at most
chemists humans use to help stop biting fingernails - it
may not be suitable in this instance but you know the
type of thing I mean.
My Irish mare came from Ireland and was the most
contrary monster to start with. We couldn't tell
her off about anything for the first year and then
gradually introduced a bit of discipline when we thought
she was ready and was starting to take the mick! She'd
happily sleep on the end of my bed now if she got the
chance - but is still rather nippy (I've a friend who
calls her the alligator).
Posted by T L
Self inflicted injury in humans is recognised widely as
a frustrated cry for help! Few people realise that the
same thing can manifest itself in horses. The thing is,
it can rapidly become a habit!
You don't say much about your horse's routine etc. This
problem needs to be accurately assessed so that steps
can be taken to alleviate it.
Posted by Rach
She is out for the day, fed at about 8-8.30 am. I muck
out, then I ride her!! (spend about 2hours mucking out, and poo picking etc..)
She then gets her hay.
I leave her in the field and about 6pm she will come in,
be brushed, hayed and fed! That's the routine!
I'm trying to think when she does this biting and it is
when there are men around the yard!! She's ok with my dad - she knows he won't hurt her, but
the neighbours if they pop in to see me, and eg- say
hello to her, she will then either go for them or go for
She doesn't have any problems with me, she sometimes
snaps at me, but she will be told off for that, and will
Posted by TLEquestrian
probably think I am nuts but it sounds as though she
has, at some time, suffered badly at the hands of a man,
to the point where she decided that her best defence was
to attack! Now she is obviously in a much kinder home but
whilst she knows not it is wrong to attack humans, her subconscious
still triggers her defence mechanism when
men are around! She knows NOT to attack them, gets
frustrated and so takes it out on herself!
Just a theory. Without seeing her and gauging her
reactions and reading her signals, it is very hard to
give a definite answer.
You need to try and build her trust in men again.
Perhaps enrol your dad's help? Get him to handle her a
bit more and then introduce another man with your dad
The main thing is, not to pressure her. Perhaps you 'new
man' could just walk up close(ish) drop a titbit (apple
or similar) into a bucket within her reach, say something
soothing like 'good girl' and immediately walk away
again! If the same man did this every day for a few days,
she should soon come to look for the treat. You can then
progress to the man standing by whilst she eats it ....
Remember, slow but sure wins the race.