• Adele Shaw

Episode 68 // Helping Horses With Poor Social Skills



In this episode, I answer a listener's question about introducing a horse that has poor social skills to a herd.


I talk about the importance of being proactive with our weaning practices and foal management, addressing gut health and physical discomfort, how to set up your pastures to minimize resource guarding, and so much more.

 

[00:00:00] Welcome to season four of The Willing Equine Podcast. The podcast where we chat about all things horses, and being the best horse people we can be for our horses. My name is Adele Shaw. I'm a certified behavior consultant, and my passion is for creating positive relationships between horses and people.

[00:00:29] Hi, Adele. I'm trying to keep it short because I don't have much time to speak. So the point is I've just listened to your podcast about introducing a new horse to another. And I have this mare who's 10 years old and has had like, just very few experiences with socializing and interacting with other horses. And it always was like she was showing a lot of aggression towards them resource guarding and uh, chasing them all around. And so she was just like labeled as a dominant horse and put in a stable alone. Now that she's with me uh, she's in a pasture, but she doesn't have like mates to chill with. So I would like to have some advice about what I could do to introduce her slowly to other horses.

[00:01:24] Hey, so it's another episode where I'm on the road, so there may be a little bit of background noise, but hopefully not too bad. So I wanted to answer this question even though unfortunately I'm quite late to answering it. So hopefully you guys have found a happy place, a place that's working well for you and you've been able to integrate your horse into a herd. However, I know this is also a very common issue for so many questions out there. So I wanted to to create a podcast episode about it, to dive into this further because I know it is a very common issue. And I'm actually going through this myself right now. I just adopted it or rescued a new horse, and she has been living on her own for many, many, many years, probably most of the majority of her life. Uh, And she also has really strong resource guarding tendencies. So it's a resocialization process and thankfully she did have horses over the fence in her prior home for a couple of years before she came to live with me. So she has some social skills and hasn't been completely isolated, but prior to that she definitely was completely on her own and she is lacking on quite a few normal social horse social behaviors.

[00:02:32] So one thing to point out here is that horses, well, really need to go all the way back to the beginning. And I wanna talk to you guys a little bit about helping our horses, or I should say being proactive about making sure that our next generation of horses has good social skills and it's proactive. And we're going to address this before it becomes an issue, and that is the best place to be. And one thing I wanna encourage you guys, in proper weaning practices and improved weaning practices with young foals and also the time period before they're weaned. I see way too many dams and foals isolated on their own, and the foals, it's just the foal and the mare for a long time, and they do not have other interactions with other horses. They're not in a stable herd environment. There's not enough adult horses around or young horses around for them to develop proper social skills. So from a very, very young impressionable age, they are not developing proper social skills, which then makes it very challenging as an adult horse to get along with other horses in a safe way and to not have all of these problematic behaviors.

[00:03:40] So one thing I would like to see in the horse world as a whole, but particularly we're looking at the breeding industry, or anybody who's looking at breeding their horses, is to improve our weaning and also our foal keeping like husbandry type management practices. I would like to see foals starting to live in the herd with other mares and other foals, as best as we can offer them. It may not be perfect. Maybe it's just one other foal. Maybe it's just other adult horses and there's no other foals. That's still better than being isolated on their own. And honestly, I'm just gonna throw this out there. I see so many videos on social media where the foals are being just really annoying to their dams, and then the dams will punish them, they'll lash out. And then oftentimes these videos are promoted as advocating for punishment because look, the mom does it so it's okay for us to do it. This is how horses learn. The problem is that those horses, those foals and those mares are in an unnatural environment. This is not a normal environment. Um, Of course these mares are driven to just madness. Basically, they're just really agitated and isolated and their foals are driving them mad because they need a companion. They need other foals to play with, to rough house with, to, you know, just to play fight with. And the only option they have is their mares, their moms. And of course she's overwhelmed and she's done. And so she lashes out. I mean, I think any mom here listening to this podcast could probably understand this at a very personal level. I know that I can. As a mom, I was very isolated with my first born. My husband worked long hours. It was just me and my first born, and I just was feeling very much like, it's just, I'm just overwhelmed and I was short-tempered and very much just much quicker to frustration, right? And then as I had more kids, and then if I would spend a long time by myself and I was just me, and there's no breaks, there's no help, there's nobody else around. And I did have really great supportive family members and all that, but just the way that our culture and our society is structured right now, at least here in the US, moms are often very isolated and it can lead to very short tempers and using more punishment than we would like. Lot of frustration. Um, It can lead to depression, other things. Mares, I'm just gonna say it. I don't know if there's any actual research to back this up, but I would just bet a lot of money that they're struggling with the same thing. So that's a little bit of a tangent. That's a little bit off topic that I'm very passionate about at the moment. I was very lucky or blessed that my filly that I bought from a breeder, while there was a lot of things that were negative about that situation, that she didn't have an ideal diet, the mare had nutrient deficiencies, like there was a lot of stuff that was kind of wrong about that situation. I am very, very, very thankful for the fact that she actually got to grow up in a good size herd with many other foals. And also her, her sire was there too very closely. It, it was a very close, well, I should say it was a more accurate or ideal social structure for a horse to grow up in. And it would be what we would try and strive for to the best of our abilities going forward with raising horses. She developed extremely just phenomenal social skills. This horse, she's now almost seven. Blows me away. I can't believe she's almost seven time is flying. Uh, She has fantastic social skills with other horses. She is just, she's just amazing in all areas of social interaction with other horses, and I've never had any problems with her in that way. I'm very thankful for that experience for her growing up that was extremely important. Now, she did get weaned too early, but thankfully when I brought her home, she went straight into another herd environment with other horses that had great social skills and so she continued to develop those social skills and did very, very well.

[00:07:37] So that's one thing is prevention is key here. As much as we can, we need to be providing our young foals with excellent examples of social skills through proper healthy herd structures that are stable. And then we also need to be only breeding horses that display healthy normal social skills and behaviors in just their everyday life, we, that rubs off onto the foals. It's also somewhat genetic, and so we need to be careful about that. We need to be paying attention to that when we are breeding horses.

[00:08:09] The next thing that comes to mind as far as prevention goes, is that it comes down to nutrition and diet. A lot of poor social skills actually are coming from the horse being in chronic discomfort or a chronically food deprived state. They are on structured meal times with long periods of time of fasting in between, which is leading to gastric discomfort or just an abnormal just diet day to day diet that is messing with their mental health, as well as their physical health. These things need to be very proactively addressed before we start looking at this from a, that it's a social thing, that it's a training situation. We need to be proactive in that we need to stop putting our horses on feeding schedules with fasting periods in between. I'm not saying you can't give your horse supplements every day. Absolutely. You can. But I'm talking about like the two flakes of hay in the morning with a bunch of grain and then nothing all day, and then two flakes of hay in the afternoon with a bunch of grain, and then nothing all night that needs to stop even three times a day is not enough. They need 24 7 access to trickle fed forage. They need to forage and graze like they are supposed to as a species. They should never have empty stomachs. They should never go long periods without food, unless it's a medical emergency. That is really important and a big step in being proactive towards avoiding these resource guarding behaviors and these poor social skills. Because a lot of times we look at it as a poor social skill. The horse is dominant, whatever, when in reality they're just in a lot of pain or they're suffering, or their mental health is suffering, so physically suffering or their mental health is suffering. This is so very important. So if you can get ahead of the game as far as you're raising a young horse and you just start them on the right diet and you make sure they're never empty, had never have empty stomachs and all of that, you're going to be very much helping that horse out for the rest of their life from a very young age.

[00:10:11] Now, if you have an adult horse, let's go into the, now we're reactive. So we already have resource guarding. We already have poor social skills. Um, And now we are trying to repair the situation. Most of the time where I start is at the stomach health, and that's because, again, most of the time social skills or a lack of social skills or dominance or aggression or whatever is that it's mistakenly labeled that instead of what it truly is, which is that the horse has has really serious resource guarding behaviors and food, just a lot of really strong unhealthy emotion. Or like a mental state around food. They have really strong feelings around food, and it comes out in their interactions with other horses because they feel a desperation to protect their access to their resource. Because it has been limited, it has been restricted, it has been taken away. So they need to, you know, their brain is yelling at them like, winter's coming. You've gotta protect this resource. You must have it, It's a survival mechanism. It is important to them. They have to get at it, you know, they just have to get that resource and they need to keep everybody else away from it.

[00:11:19] Most of the time that when people tell me their horses are terrible and herds and dangerous and dominant and aggressive, it comes down to food. And so the solution to this is getting their stomach to a healthy place and providing that 24 7 access to forage. But it's not usually as, simple as just throwing hay bale out there and be like, Okay, they're gonna be good. No, it, it gets more complicated. Of course. It's never so simple. We need to provide, provide many, many access points to the rei nforcement and to the forage. So if I have a herd with different horses in it, and some of them have resource guarding behaviors or they're coming from that lifestyle, whatever it is, I will, Well, even just, even my normal herds to be honest, I always try and provide more access points to forage, so more access to reinforcement, to the forage. Then there are a number of horses, so if I have two horses in there, then I need at least three, if not four, areas where the forage is accessible so that there is not a need for them to protect any one location. There's always more. And also they need to, you need to make sure it never, ever, ever runs out. That is really important. Even 30 minutes or an hour of it running out could set you back as far as helping this horse mentally.

[00:12:32] The other thing that I will do is provide a lot of different, like types of options. So I will provide different enrichment options where I'm offering the food. I will have slow feeder nets where I'm offering the food to slow them down so they're not just like gorging themselves. And also because horses, again, it's back to trickle feeding, not just free loading on just a giant bale of hay. We don't wanna do that either. And then also I'll offer some grass, but not just the grass. I have the hay as well. I've got lots of different types of, like different types of forage available to them so they can pick and choose. And again, you need to have more options than there are number of horses. Even with round bales at most, I will put two, maybe three very socially skilled horses on a round bale. So right now I have two different herds and or three technically, but two, well two with round bales. And in those herds I have three horses in each, and there's one round bale. But one of those herds, I actually need to add a second round because while they're they're doing okay. They're like right on the edge cuz one of the horses has some pretty, has stronger resource guarding behaviors due to all of the stuff that I've just mentioned basically. She went through all of that. The not so ideal weaning, the not really good social interactions and conditioning from a young age and then also fasting periods and gut health problems, and then also being put into herds where all the other horses aggressively resource guard, which is another point that I'm gonna come back to in a moment, if, hopefully I remember that. But so for that particular herd, I've noticed there's been a little bit more conflict than I would like to see. So adding a second round bail in there, even though there's only three horses in that pasture is going to be ideal to help reduce any tension around the food and reduce that, like circling around the round bale even though they all have slow feeder nets and all that, it's just going to be better. Or I could do a couple squares with slow feeder nets on the side or something like that. Definite, definitely different options that you can choose, but it is important to make sure that you do not restrict their access to reinforcement or to the forage, and also not to make it into concentrated of an area they need to be spread out. That is gonna be really help, a really, really important. Alongside of that, I offer all horses, especially new horses coming in or horses that have resource guarding type behaviors a lot of gut help. And by that I mean either we're treating ulcers or we're offering supplements and herbal support that helps either prevent or helps heal. And I do that daily for all my horses, but more intensely for new horses coming in or for horses that have those resource guarding behaviors. So supporting their stomach is very important and getting help with that. I would recommend consulting with a nutrition specialist and also somebody who is um, A vet who has really extensive knowledge on gastric health and what, how to help your horse. So that's going to be critical and very important because if your horse's stomach is feeling better, they're gonna be less likely to want to resource guard because they're not gonna feel so desperate to get the food because the their stomach health. So gut health is gonna be extremely important here, and it's an ongoing journey that doesn't just resolve in a couple of days or even in a month or two. It is just gonna take time in combination with everything else you're doing.

[00:16:05] The third thing that's gonna be extremely important is that the horses that you're introducing your horse to or that you want them to be around and that you, you want them to be in the herd with at least the first couple especially, but really preferably be all of the horses that they're with, have good social skills, have minimal to no resource guarding behaviors, and are very stable horses. They are very calm and very comfortable in their understanding of their access to the forage, that they do not feel the need to resource guard that forage, that they're not going to aggravate this other horse that it has those really strong the really strong feelings towards that food and needing to resource guard it. Anytime I bring in a new horse into the herd that I feel very, or I know from, just from watching their behavior, has really strong resource guarding behaviors. I make sure that the horses I introduce them to are just really chill and don't have a lot of tension around the food. That there's not a lot of anxiety there, that it's not going to be a problem. And sometimes that means that they only get to go out with one other horse for a while until everybody's settled and everybody's in a much calmer, healthier state. And then we can work up to more horses as time goes and things are going well. Which, which going back to being, to the proactive side of

[00:17:24] things, it's very important that as you're raising horses or keeping horses, Even adult horses that you try not to have them in herds where there are other horses that have really strong resource guarding type behaviors. This can actually create the resource guarding in your horse because they are being pushed off of their forage constantly and feeling now the need to protect or be on the defense from these other horses that are very antagonistic, that is going to be very important. If you can achieve that, which I know it's really hard to achieve all of this when you're in boarding situations or you're not in control of where, which horses come and go and the the herd environments and all that, I, you just have to do the best you can. But if you can, if you do have control over, if you can strategize this, it is ideal to have your horse not in an environment where the other horses are heavy resource guarders. For example, when I'm raising a young horse like the filly that I was telling you about, the herd that I put her into was with two other mares that were very comfortable in their environment. They didn't have a lot of strong feelings around food. Everything was very stable. They had good temperaments. They're just easygoing. Everything was chill. That is an ideal environment for a young horse to grow up into and learn social skills and learn that they don't need to be worried about where their food is coming from and when it's all readily available. It's just a very peaceful and stable herd environment that is an ideal environment for a young horse to grow up into and will help your horse develop good social skills and not develop resource guarding. So if you have control over that, that would be ideal. But again, I know it's very challenging in a lot of situations. So just do the best you can.

[00:19:06] And so then going from there, when it comes down to helping a horse that already has established resource guarding behaviors, already has poor social skills, has maybe been isolated for a long time, or has just been in a herd where all the other horses had poor social skills and now has learned those poor social skills and those resource guarding behaviors from that situation, the transition process to getting them back to a stable place where they feel safe and they feel calm and at ease in that social interaction and around food is a bit of a process and it does take time. The biggest thing I'm gonna say here right off the bat is that patience is going to be key. You have to give your horse lots of time to be able to make this transition into learn new skills, new ways of being around other horses and to start to feel comfortable again in their environment and around food.

[00:20:02] So let's go back to kind of my story, my current story where I have a horse that I've rescued, though she's lived on her own and she has resource guarding behaviors. One of the things that I'll do with a horse like this, and this is what I'm currently doing with her, is I have her in a pen. It's kind of like a. Almost, it's an area between my arena and my pastures and it wraps around the edges of my arena. So it's, it's pretty long and probably about 20 feet wide, maybe a little bit longer wider than that, but she can walk up and down the sides of the arena and it on the other side of her fence are both of my pastures with my herds. She has the ability to socialize with all of the horses that I have over that fence line, but she's not in the herd with them and they can move away from her easily, and she can move away from them easily. She can also choose which horses she prefers to be closer to at that time. Because it's two different herds and my situation, it just happens to work out that I'm able to offer that. In a lot of situations though, what I'll end up having people do. Place the horse in a pen, even a temporary pen near right next to the pasture, maybe where they can't reach over the fence to each other. Or maybe they can, but maybe at first not. And then you can move that pen closer as they're socializing better, as they're interacting better. And make sure that the horse is never completely left alone. So make sure that the herd that she's near or your horse is near. It doesn't have to be a she. Horse is near that they can't get too far away from that horse to cause that horse to panic. That's really key here is we don't want them to learn to start to develop separation related behaviors, separation, anxiety related behaviors due to the setup. So they need to be able to be close to the other horses. In a relatively close proximity without being inside the herd and also without that herd being able to leave them. And what this also might end up looking like is you have two individual horses that are in pens next to each other and they can't get too far away from each other, but they also are not in the same pasture together. That would work as well. Whatever setup you have available to you, just some trying to achieve something similar to that is going to be ideal. So I have her in this separate pen where she has access to my herds.. Uh, And then she is on 24 7 forage. So she has multiple resource access points along this track system and that way she can choose which herds she wants to be near and she still has access to forage. And then I'm actively working on helping her stomach heal and um, giving her time, just literal days, hours to experience that the hay doesn't run out, that she will not run out of food and it's okay. And also this sets up opportunities for the other horses to come up to the fence to hang out with her. I've seen them snoozing side by side with each other without them being able to access her resource and take it away from her or her being able to access their resource and take it away from them. So she's not able to practice resource guarding behaviors while also having endless access to that resource and also getting gentle exposure to the other horses that is non antagonistic. It's non aggressive. It's not, and it is safe. This is an ideal setup and I just give horses as long as they need in the setup till I start seeing a sense of settling in from the new horse and also the other horses as they get adjusted to the new horse. So things I wanna start seeing are when other horses approach the fence, the horse that in the pen doesn't charge after them with ears back. I don't wanna see kicking at each other through the fence. I don't wanna see a lot of calming signals and signs of stress, pacing, circling their resource, doing any kinds of behaviors you might expect inside the pasture with another horse to kind of protect their hay, protect their resource. Usually this takes, I mean, well, I, I don't even wanna give you a, usually because it depends on the horse. And it also depends on the setup a little bit, and then how proactive you are with helping the horse through any stomach conditions, any stomach discomfort, things like that. Sometimes this takes anywhere from, sometimes I see them improve dramatically within a week or so, and sometimes it takes months. I've had horses where I've had them in this setup for, I wanna say like four months. And then that's when I started to feel comfortable about the whole setup and that they were getting along and that there wasn't a lot of tension and that with making sure that the pasture that they were all going into had multiple access points and that the horses that they were going, that the new horse was going with, it was gonna be calm and relaxed and they were getting along over the fence and it was a good match, it. Yeah. Even then it was, that's the transition period, the last one. I think that was the longest one. It was like four or five months. But I've definitely consulted on cases where it's taken longer. That was just a personal experience of mine where it took around that much time. and, and part of that was convenience as well. For me, I needed to be able to be there during that transition period, and there wasn't any rush to put her in because there was just a lot, there was a lot of different things to take into consideration, so I probably could have sped that up a lot if I wanted to, but I chose not to. I just wanted to take it easy. So in the current case that I'm working on where the new horse that I rescued, it's been a couple of weeks and she is doing much better. I'm not seeing near as much resource guarding. I have her hay far enough away and this is another part of strategizing it, is where her resources are, is far away from the other horse. So she feels at that they are at a comfortable distance from the other horse while she can also on other horses, while she can also still socialize with them when she decides to leave her hay. So that is really important, is where you place the hay is very important. Or other resources. The reason that I am delaying and not putting her in right now is because she does still have a lot of resource guarding type behaviors during feeding time. She gets very anxious. She starts calling and pacing and circling and running the fences with the other horses and pinning her ears at them even though she doesn't eat her food anywhere near the other horses or the other horses near her. I'm still seeing some of those behaviors just by pure nature of like it's supplement time and that's just a behavior, that's just behaviors that have gotten conditioned in and it's just residual. So I. need to strategize how I am going to help her through that and set up feeding time in such a way where we don't see all of those behaviors come to life while she's act actually able to interact in a more physical way with the other herd horses where they could get injured or she could get injured.

[00:26:51] So, Really what that's gonna boil down to is managing the environment. Meaning that when it's feeding time, she has a station to go to, or she knows which pen is hers, and she can just go into that without having to be let in. Or maybe we toss out a special hay first that keeps her interest while we put in the supplements and then we let her into her area. We just need to manage that whole scenario so that we're not seeing a lot of agitation from any of the horses so that everybody stay safe and calm. And also because all of those interactions, the more times they happen, the longer that you're gonna see the poor social skills and the resource guarding is just gonna perpetuate. It's just gonna continue cuz it's continuing to be practiced and therefore reinforced because the food comes after. So, and also time, she just needs more time to settle to realize that she's not running out of food, that it's gonna be okay. So we may wait more weeks or even longer until I integrate her into a herd.

[00:27:50] And the other reason I've waited as well is because I need to make sure that the herds that she goes into is gonna be stable for her in with those behaviors and all that. So everything I've just mentioned, I am proactively working on. It's requiring strategy and I just haven't, we are just not to that stage yet. So yeah, so it's going to happen. I've seen it successfully happen many times. I've been able to re socialize and reintegrate many horses into a herd, into the herd. I've actually not had a situation where it didn't work out. If I had the um, when I was able to manage everything and make it happen safely and correctly on a timeline that was ideal for the horses.

[00:28:32] Now when you're in a controlled or an environment controlled by somebody else, like a boarding environment, things like that, some of these options may not be available to you. And one thing I wanna say is that in some cases, I personally believe and encourage in some, in some cases, as long as the horse has 24 7 access to forage, has all of their other needs met and has inter um, the ability to interact with other horses over the fence in a social way. So there's not like electric fencing or big space between the fencing, but they're able to interact with the other horses over the fence. Those other horses don't ever leave in a way that stresses your horse out. So basically all their needs are met, but they are not actually in the herd, but they can interact, groom, socialize over the fence in some situations and in some environments where we can't make it ideal. That is going to be the second ideal setup and will be the better option for your horse and the other horses so that nobody gets hurt and that your horse doesn't get to continue to practice a lot of resource guarding or the other horses don't get to practice that. Or where, you know, it's making, you know, sometimes being, what it basically boils down to is that sometimes when you can't and control everything and you can't make it ideal, you have to settle for second best. And in the long run, that may end up being the better option. If the alternative is that your horse has to be with other horses that are going to make them anxious. And are going to resource guard the food from them and are going to be problematic basically towards your horse. That may be a more stressful environment for your horse. And while it sounds better on paper, you know they're with the herd, all of that, it's may actually not in reality, be the better situation. Now, please do remember, I am not advocating for keeping horses isolated. I am absolutely not saying that horses are not herd animals and that that's not the better situation. It is, but the reality is we live in a world where we can't control everything and sometimes we have to settle for second best. And please do remember I specifically said that all the other needs need to be met. So they need 24 7 access to move around or at least as best as you can get. They need shelter. They need fresh water. They need the ability to socialize over the fence as much as possible. They need 24 7 forage and enrichment and low stress, minimally aversive training that's focused on as positive or pleasant of an interaction and training approach as possible. All their other needs need to be met. It's just that we may have to compromise in that one area. And this goes to a lot of different areas as well. Sometimes compromise is needed. So I'm just putting that out there that if it comes down to it, where you have the option of, you know, providing your horse with all of that, but they're just not in a herd, but they still have the ability to socialize, Over putting them in a herd where the resources are restricted and the horses are very aggressive towards each other and all of that, it's possible that the first option, that compromise is going to be the better option for you guys. Possible. I'm not gonna make a blanket recommendation.

[00:31:50] So when it comes to socializing, kind of wrapping back up or back around to our original point, I spend a lot of time talking about resource guarding, set up and the management and all of that, which is honestly, as I said, the majority of the reason that we start to get these poor social skills and what people are labeling as dominance, aggression, all of that.

[00:32:16] It is not the entirety of the situation for many horses, but it, for a lot of them it is and I, no matter where I think the poor social skills are coming from. I always start with that. So it was a really straightforward, as far as that's gonna be where I recommend starting. Cause that's where I start now when we're looking at actual poor social skills. Like maybe your horse was an orphan or has never been in a herd before, or has been completely living on their own their entire life. And never even seen another horse like, like literally just not had any interactions with other horses or very minimal. Truly poor social skills. This is a little bit more complicated in situation or case by case. And in theory, and I've done this before, you can strategically through operating conditioning and all of that, and condition and classical conditioning, all that train and reteach your social skills like calming signals and conflict avoidance, and you can recondition the presence of other horses. I've done this many times before. Even with resource guarding like that, that's the source of it, where I will start at my horse's threshold. So, or before their threshold. So I will start where they're comfortable and I will offer them something really good, whether it's a positive reinforcement training session, or just feeding time or something. And then have the other horse be, you know, far enough away that they're comfortable. And then gradually over time, I start to inch them closer and closer and closer together. And I'm associating that proximity with something really good. This would be, or just, you know, systematically counter conditioning the presence of the other horse. That is a really good approach to take for horses that truly have a really intense resource guarding behaviors that you can be intentional with helping them through. Like if you can control the situation and their interactions with the other horses and the proximity and all that, you can absolutely take that approach.

[00:34:20] The other thing you can do is potentially and theoretically, clicker train certain behaviors that you would like to see when they're feeling stressed or too close to other horses, or threatened by other horses you can reinforce or reward calming signals and deescalation and displacement behaviors and, and behaviors you want to see more of to help them learn how to communicate with other horses. You can, Let's say that they see another horse walking around and they're feeling, you can start to see them getting a little bit anxious or they're starting to kind of like start to show behaviors that are not. Particularly they're showing they're not very comfortable having that other horse that close around. And then maybe you see them turn their head away or go to the grass or something like that. Go ahead and reinforce that. Give 'em some pellets. Say that was it. Great job. I love that option, that choice over going after that other horse like that is a good different option, a good acceptable option, and you can start to train those behaviors. Now, I'm not gonna be able to go through the entire library of all the different things that you can help, you know, condition and train your horse to do in this relation. In relation to this. I would highly recommend finding a behaviorist, whether it's myself or somebody else. To consult on your case. If you are to that point where you feel like you really need to intentionally teach your horse alternative behaviors in the presence of other horses, and it's going to take management and strategy, it is possible. I have done it before and we can absolutely help horses learn to socialize in a less, less. In a safer way, in a healthier way, in a more, you know, normal way we can help them learn to have that conversation with other horses, the in the way, or the conversation that they should have been taught by their dam or other horses in the herd if they had lived a more species appropriate lifestyle growing up. You know, whether that was by accident or intentional, it doesn't really matter at this point. I would absolutely recommend consulting with a behaviorist and and getting a plan on board and being, and just being able to put together something where you can manage that and structure that and help your horse through that, because that is kind of a, it is a next step and it requires specifics for your individual case and is not something that I can I just run you through on the podcast and teach you.

[00:36:53] But everything else that we talked about today will absolutely apply to that type of case as well. We need to address the physical health. We need to address the stomach health and which goes into the physical health, but I didn't really mention this, that sometimes chronic pain, whether it's from arthritis or something like kissing spine or digestive health or anything else, nerve pinches things, anything really, if it's chronic pain, chronic pain can absolutely make your horse irritable and can cause all, all kinds of behavior issues, including being aggressive towards other horses. So that should absolutely be evaluated and addressed and continued to be addressed until you guys find a resolution to the problem. So like let's say you go to get a vet appointment and you have a consult with a vet and they can't find anything, but then you. You're implementing everything we just talked about in a couple months down the road, things are not getting any better. Go back and get a second opinion from a different vet or the same vet and then do that again and again. And keep digging. Keep looking for solutions for your horse because until we can ask our horses, Are you in pain? And they say, No, we cannot rule that out completely. And chronic pain can absolutely cause the behavior of resource guarding and aggression towards other horses and the appearance of poor social skills and all of that

[00:38:07] So I feel like we've talked about a lot in this episode, and I'm gonna have to wrap it up. I am absolutely available for virtual and long distance behavior consults as well as in person consults. I'm more than happy to talk to any of you guys about any questions you might have, and please do feel free to reach out to me through my website.

[00:38:26] I have my services page as well as a contact me page. Feel free to reach out. Or you can always email me directly at info the willing equine.com, and until next time.

[00:38:42] Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast episode, I would love if you left us a review on wherever you listen to your podcast. If you'd like to learn more, head to our website, the willing equine.com, where you'll find a bunch of links to our different social media platforms. We have Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook.

[00:38:59] Pretty much everything. We also have our blog, our training services, and the T Academy where you can enroll in the foundation course that opens a few times a year. Thanks so much for listening, and I look forward to chatting with you in the next episode.




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