The Scared Horse - Fight
Ever had your horse described as ‘Dominant’ or ‘Aggressive’?
There are 3 typical fear responses horses display, Flight, Freeze and Fight (see earlier posts about Flight & Freeze). Of these 3, fight or aggression is the least common in horses. If you have a horse in ‘fight mode’ it is really important to understand that this is a last resort for the horse.
Aggression usually comes up when the horse feels that he is trapped or has no choice. Feeling trapped doesn’t have to mean he’s physically confirmed for example in a stable. I have met horses that will display aggressive behaviour because they feel trapped by the lunge line and can’t get away.
What’s important here is to understand that the reason for the aggression is fear. A horse may be fearful because of the situation he finds himself in or it could be pain/discomfort related and whilst aggressive behaviour needs to be interrupted for safety reasons the cause must also be addressed for things to be truly resolved.
Signs that you are dealing with fear aggression are:-
😬 Ears back and tight eyes
😬 Bites/kicks (or tries to) then runs away
😬 Aggressive in the stable, calm and easy in an open space
In the case of fear related aggression, being able to correct the behaviour in one moment and then build confidence the next takes excellent timing. I wouldn’t recommend trying to handle this unless you have a very good understanding of what’s happening and how to address it.
In the case of pain related aggression, a good team consisting of vet, farrier, saddler, physical therapist, dentist is invaluable to find the cause and get your horse comfortable again.
However, once the problem is resolved and trust is re-built they can be equally as trainable as any other horse🦄💞