A friend has an 8 year old appy gelding, a 5 year old pinto mare, a 2 year old morgan gelding and a 2 year old paint filly. The 2 year old filly is very submissive and the two older horses have started taking turns chasing her until she hunkers down in a corner and then they will kick at her. They have also run her into a gate and a barbed wire fence. Pasture situation will not allow them to be separated permanently. Owner has decided to sell the older horses and keep the youngsters, but we have never seen this type of behaviour before. Any ideas why it might be happening and any suggestions for behaviour modification ideas?
Firstly it would be wise to remove the barbed wire regardless of whether the horses all get along happily or not...
Secondly - do the horses all have enough to eat? In my experience it is very often food that initiates squabbles. Lack of, or setting out 3 piles for 3 horses instead of 4 or 5. The boss horse will move along the others regularly, so there needs to be extra laid out so they can all "rotate".
Horses are on pretty much free choice grass hay. Barbed wire is being replaced by board as time/funds permit, but they have run her into the boards and metal gate more than once. The metal gate has created the worst damage so far. Space is 1/2 acre per horse.
Whatever the space is, RDK, it ain't enough. Horses have various-sized personal bubbles. A stallion's may be over a mile in diameter. It seems obvious that the solution will be to remove the horse that is being hurt. -- Dr. Deb