Dealing with the bully horse

Just so over things today!

I own a socially inept gelding, who was a working stud until he was 6, he’s now 9. Since I bought him a year ago he has been kept in a dry lot/pen, but this year wanted to try him out at pasture. Where we live pasture means huge areas, with little grass, so plenty of room for everyone.

First attempt at turn out, my guy and the BO bossy gelding were squaring up and challenging each other, but when we left they were settling down. When I went to catch him 2 days later he is 1/2 mile away at the furthest each of the field, on his own, looking tired, bloody and dehydrated. Brought him in and got him washed off, rehydrated, loved on, put him back in his pen.

New horse comes in for turn out, but spends time in the next pen to my guy, and they are turned out together. At first all looks great, my horse and new horse buddy up at the far end of field, dominant horse has the others at the top end. Go catch my horse yesterday, and he is happy, relaxed, until we get half way up the field, then he gets antsy, keeps stopping, have to make him walk. Then bully horse sees him, comes barreling down the field, my horse takes off, I can’t hold him, he, and his new buddy get chased all the way to the bottom of the field again.

I got BO to come out, we tried again, twice! same result, so I just quit, despite the gloves my hands were bruised, skinned, and I was totally frustrated.

There seems to be problems with changing the group, so all I can see is leaving my boy in again. I’m old, I want to ride for fun, it’s no fun if my horse is being ‘bullied’ it’s no fun if I can’t get him out of the field.

The BO was on “it takes longer than a few days to work out herd dynamics”. And I get that, I get that mine needed to learn his place, but this seems a bit much.

Aghhh just venting I guess.

Wow. That sounds like a really terrible outcome waiting to happen. Your horse doesn’t look like the problem here–it’s the BO’s bossy gelding who is driving yours off and charging you. Charging the people because they’re bringing through a horse he doesn’t like is really egregious, problematic behavior. Nothing about that is normal or should be dismissed as “it’ll take them awhile to work through it.”

Glad you’ve been able to move your guy back to a pen. Pasture would be nice, but not with a horse like that!


I agree with your BO that it will take a minute for your horse to settle in. From your post, it sounds like your boy wants (or is) a more dominant horse being added to a group that already has a dominant horse. There is no way to mix them together without some type of adjustment period for both of them, which may involve fighting.

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I personally would never want to traipse through a field to catch a horse I wanted to ride everyday so I don’t have much say but I wouldn’t tolerate being charged while leading my horse in. I would probably get someone to help me bring my horse in and take a nice sturdy whip out. The bully horse obviously has zero respect for the handlers.


I only ride 3 or 4 times a week, not every day, so being out would be better for him. Boss horse is not charging people as such, but running off my horse. He is so panicked that I can’t hold him. I agree this is more than a one person job, and maybe not me!

Still I don’t want anyone, horse or person hurt, I just want to go ride, and relax.

Boss horse doesn’t view people as the biggest horse in the field. This is DANGEROUS behavior.

People should always be respected. That extends to any horses that people are leading. This boss horse is in dire need of a serious come to Jesus discussion.


Couple of questions, as I’m having a hard time picturing the scene:

1.) Is the smaller pen close to the larger field so that the new guy can get to know the others over a fence?
2.) How long has the new horse actually been there?
3.) How many pens/paddocks/fields are there altogether?

In an ideal world I’d have the new horse chatting with the others over a fence for a few weeks before turning him out with anyone else. I’d then introduce him to the other horses, one at a time, in a third enclosure, rather than just throwing the new kid out with the whole herd.

This is time-consuming, I know, but better to be safe than sorry. You really can’t toss a completely unknown horse into an existing herd and expect anything good, so your results aren’t actually particularly surprising - especially since this group sounds half feral anyhow.


Any possible way you can cross fence the pasture so your horse and his buddy have their own space without being threatened by bully horse and so you can go catch your horse to ride? Maybe just a section?


That’s a really good idea.

Maybe the BO would let you do this is you bought some electric tape and step-in posts yourself?


If the BO won’t let you do that, the safest thing is for the BO to catch and hold their horse while you bring yours in, and I bet they won’t want to do that!


This would be annoying but a simple solution that doesn’t involve you asking the BO for anything else - if you feel comfortable, maybe you could just bring in the BO horse first and then catch your guy?? And then turn them back out in the opposite order.


I’d suggest 1) desensitizing your horse to a flag or longe whip and 2) carrying it to smack the crap out of the horse challenging YOU leading your horse out of the pasture. That’s dangerous. I’d keep challenging that horse no matter where they went to show that YOU are boss mare and make decisions. Secondly, I’d tell the BO that this situation is dangerous to you. Exactly what can be done about it. And exactly what will be done about her horse challenging YOU leading your horse. Her horse seems to be considering YOU as part of the herd - unacceptable. If you are not in the position to deal with this gelding then the owner should be willing to go catch your gelding and correct her horse’s bad behavior.

Bullsh*t that it takes longer than a few days to work out herd dynamics. My barn has training horses coming and going and we separate problematic horses. A gelding like that would be Pogo-ized…put in with the mustang alpha female Pogo who would teach him that he doesn’t call the shots. At all. Ever. We don’t tolerate unsafe horses. And we use flags alot for horses who challenge people. Hell no, horse.

That’s a problematic herd situation. Unfortunately, your guy may have to be in if the owner is not willing to work with you.

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I got summarily flattened by a bully gelding charging at MY horse that I was catching. They had been together for a month, I was in plain view, and bully snaked his head at my horse out of nowhere. 10’ later I hit the ground, my horse stepped on my side as he went over me, and bully’s owner said “well your horse ran over you, not mine.”

F that ****. I have routinely managed mixed herds for years, as someone else said the bully didn’t respect people as Boss Horse.

Please don’t get hurt!!


Well I got a message that Mr Bully is now in a dry lot, and my guy and his friend are out in pasture! I feel sorry for Mr Bully, but if peace reigns out in outside world, it will be worth it.

If we can get a settled herd out there, maybe we can re introduce him later, with a different dynamic.


When I worked at a boarding barn the boarders horses were the ones who were kept happy and the BO’s horses were kept where it made the most sense.

If the BO 's horse is the problem causer then he should be removed and paying customers should have a place to safely turn out their horses.

ETA: I see now ^^^^that is just what happened!!

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I used to have to manage a barn that had a couple of particularly dominant geldings. They were respectful of humans so they wouldn’t charge people but they’d be aggressive with new horses.

What worked well for both of them was to do exactly what it sounds like your barn owner has done - pull them out of the field and let them hang out in a dry lot until the new horse has settled into the field with the less dominant horses, then once the new pecking order has been established (usually just a week or two), I’d turn the bully back out with the others. He - whichever of my two problem children it was - would have had a bit of an attitude adjustment and he’d be coming into the field as the “new horse.” Of course, it didn’t take long for the bully to reacclimate to the herd because he’s familiar with most of the other horses, but having to reestablish himself as the boss with the existing herd was enough to distract my bully horses from being too aggressive with the new horse.

Hope it works out the same way with the BOs horse!


Our old vet used to say, half of his work is patching back together horses people insist they live together when they obviously are not going to do so peacefully.

Hope all those that keep horses in herds because they think is more “natural” are lucky to do so with few, mild problems, without serious injuries.

Horse herds is not “natural” to horses unless it is in really large areas and horses who have a choice when and where to stay or to leave.

Hope all works for these horses in the OP’s stable.


Good job BO- Mr. Bull in a China Shop has proven himself unfit to be in a big field until he learns how to act in a society, and hopefully she will work with him on that before he is permitted to try again!


My husband and I had a small herd of about 5 and needed to borrow a friends pasture while our well pump was replaced. There was another friend’s 2 horses already in the pasture, a gelding and a mare. So we turn them out and friend gelding comes prancing over to check out the new herd. One of our geldings went after him with mouth open, friend horse scurries back to his mare in a corner of the paddock. This went on for a while, every time friend horse came close our horse went after him. The rest of the herd didn’t pay any attention to the goings on. Eventually, the friend gelding and mare stayed in one part of the pasture, and ours in another. Next day, I go over and my horse had some time during the night had gathered the friend’s mare into his herd and the gelding was still ostracized and was very upset that his girlfriend had abandoned him. Poor guy, he’d trot around the herd and managed to avoid being attacked by our horse calling out plaintively to his mare. She ignored him. ha ha.

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Lol, went out today, just 3 geldings in the big field, so my idiot decides he doesn’t want to get caught, leads them on a fine run, before one of them got bored, and my guy got jealous someone else was getting attention.

Bully boy has been turned out in a small paddock for now, with one friend, paddock borders driveway. I was shocked how nervous my boy was walking past the paddock to the barn, and back out again. I had to chase him up, to walk with me.

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