Some horses, particularly those that are wild and untrained, may show aggressive behavior toward other horses or humans. This is unsafe for many reasons, and ignoring the problem is sure to make it worse. To maintain the safety of yourself and others, follow these steps to handle an aggressive horse.
Treating Medical Conditions
One reason why horses may become aggressive is due to a medical condition that is not being treated. Chronic pain or discomfort can lead a horse to lash out. Be sure to treat any illnesses or conditions immediately and with the assistance of a veterinarian. If your horse was previously docile, but has started showing signs of aggression, you may want to reach out to a vet even if there are no noticeable signs of disease. It is possible that your horse is suffering in silence.
Preventing Herd Bullying
Horses, and particularly stallions, have a ranking system in their herds. A dominant horse may begin bullying the weaker ones to solidify its rank in the herd. To prevent this, make sure there is plenty of space for all of your horses to have their own territory. Likewise, be sure to provide many different feed and water stations in different areas, which will prevent one horse from dominating them all. You may have to separate your horses or feed them individually at different times if this does not work.
Avoiding Human Aggression
Horses can become aggressive toward humans if the human unintentionally trains them to act this way. For example, you do not want to feed or otherwise reward your horse if it is pinning its ears back or acting aggressively in any other way. Wait for your horse to calm down and act appropriately before feeding and rewarding it. By waiting, you will show that the positive behavior gets the reward, while the negative behavior is ignored.
Assuaging Motherly Concerns
Mares can be protective of their foals for quite some time, which can cause issues with handling. After all, getting foals accustomed to humans early on can help significantly with training. To help the mother remain calm, do not ever come in the way of her and her baby, and always allow her to stay nearby while handling the foal. Give them plenty of time alone and do not disturb them unless you are handling them. Ideally, your mare will be well-trained before breeding, which will help her to feel comfortable around you.
Horses can be more aggressive than you would expect, but with proper training and a good environment, most aggression can be avoided.