When Laura Taylor’s mare started kicking out at other horses in warm-up areas, she realised she needed to find a way to manage the horse’s behaviour.
Angel, a Hanoverian/Anglo-Arab mare, was also anxious about riding alongside another horse out hacking and was fearful of being turned out in a herd.
“She was homebred in Devon and as she’d been turned out in company at her previous home, I thought that she would feel safer in a small group of mares at my new yard,” said Laura, who bought Angel as a five-year-old and intended to compete in dressage.
“However, when I turned her out, she ran and the other mares went after her, which I believe frightened her.
“From then on, Angel wouldn’t settle in the herd. For fear of her getting injured, we sectioned off an individual paddock for her next to them.”
Shortly after this, Laura noticed that when she took Angel into an arena with other horses, the mare became very unsettled.
“I let her stand [in the arena] until she’d relaxed and then took her out, all the time giving her reassurance,” explained Laura.
“It progressed to her kicking out at horses that got too close in the warm up at competitions, but she was worse if someone passed us in a corner and similarly if another horse came up behind us in trot or canter.”
‘I don’t over-faze her’
Laura moved to a new yard, and the change of herd appeared to help Angel’s confidence at competitions.
“I wasn’t sure how Angel would cope. However, she settled into the herd brilliantly,” said Laura. “She shows no aggression, will happily graze next to other horses and allows them to mutual groom.”
Following the yard change, Laura asked her trainer to compete Angel so that she could watch the mare’s reactions to the other horses around her.
“She was much more relaxed and less fazed by the other horses. She is also more confident being up next to another horse when hacking out,” said Laura.
Laura is continuing to work towards alleviating Angel’s fear of being close to other horses.
“My aim is to take her to more competitions at regular intervals to keep exposing her to the warm-up environment,” she said. “I leave plenty of time so that I can pick my moment and use the warm-up area when there are fewer horses in there. This way, I don’t over-faze her.
“I’m also trying to use the school at home at the same time as another horse being exercised so that it becomes routine to be in an arena with other horses.”
Related to this…
- Carl Hester answers: helping horses who are tricky to ride in company
- ‘Kicking, squealing, trying to run away’: how to help a horse who dislikes working around others
Main image: stock photo