How can I put a pushy yearling in his place with a herd member?

Question: I have an 18 month old Quarter Horse x TB who is kept with my 21 year old Welsh X. My problem is that my youngster pushes the old one around all the time, herding him, biting him and has now chewed half his tail off. How can I put him back in his place in the pecking order?? Many thanks

Answer from April Reeves: I want to start by saying that your Appendix QH is lovely. He has a nice balance to his body, and at this age it’s hard to find, which means he will only get better.

While his attitude is unacceptable to you, lets look at the good side of who he is and what he is doing. First of all, I’m assuming he’s a gelding, or else we stop here and he gets castrated before you go any further, as it will only get worse regardless of what I say here.

You can’t change his behavior. Read this as ‘you’. All the groundwork in the world, all the charm school you can throw at him won’t alter who he is in a herd situation. That is up to him and his herd mates to decide, and while we humans often sit back and freak out at the charade that’s happening out in the field, to them it’s nature and ritual.

I see it as a good thing – I use to put a more aggressive horse out with my elders, as they had the opportunity to self-exercise, especially the old broodmares. I know the old guy doesn’t need bite marks, but the movement is probably doing him good.

While eating tails is not a nice thing for the human, it will pass. My Appendix QH dined on a smorgasbord of tails when he was the same age, but grew out of it in search of a more palatable meal.

When you have 2 herd mates with this relationship, you can only manage it. Try to keep their food areas a good distance apart. Make sure they have lots of room to roam.

Short of separating them, which would only cause anxiety and a host of other behavioral problems, they will sort it out on their own. If you can just be patient, buy lots of tea tree dressing for the wounds, kiss the tail goodbye for a year and try not to cringe, they will likely end up inseparable buddies. Then you’ll be emailing about herd bound issues, but I have many great articles on that already!

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