Equine Jealousy

Hi All

My young (5yo next month) horse “Rosy” loves his pet human. He follows me around like a puppy, and has to be involved in whatever I’m doing. Actively involved, as in stealing hand tools, emptying boxes of parts, shreading instruction sheets, etc.
I don’t really discourage him much, as I feel inquisitiveness is an indicator of intelligence, and he isn’t obstructive, just curious. (Actually, sometimes I can get him to hand me stuff; a work in progress, but I digress.)
However, he is insanely jealous, and quickly moves to chase away any of the other horses if I am working with them, particularly poor old George. The other day, I actually had to lock Rosy in a stall to install Georgies turnout blanket; I could get Rosy to back off, but he’d come right back and try to move George off as soon as my back was turned.
Short of really escalating the issue (ultimately, probably the correct answer; “chase him off with a stick”), can anyone offer a possible solution to this behavior?

TIA! Steve


IIWM, I’d just remind Rosy that YOU are the ultimate Boss & YOU decide who interacts with whom & when.
No stick s/b needed, your voice & tone will let Rosy know his interference is out of line.
If you do ever need to escalate your Nope!, remember John Lyons 3 Second Rule:
Act like you’re going to kill Rosy - get Big, Holler & Growl - for 3 Seconds.
Then go back to Business as Usual.


Honestly I just throw them a flake of hay far away from where I need to be or alfalfa pellets. Alternatively, teaching them to ground tie or back away also helps in this situation


I’d have a permanent tie installed somewhere close (but not too close where it’s useless) to where most of the action happens.

If Rosy wants to be Nosy when you’re working with someone else, tell him congrats on earning an impromptu tying lesson. Halter, and clip to the tie. Good for him to learn that skill, good for him to learn it’s not “all about him all the time” and good for you that Georgie isn’t getting harassed for being a good boy.


I had the minipanel run at Etalon Diagnostics for color and pattern because I had a sabino Paint without the Sb1 gene. Etalon tested for more Dominat White than UC Davis. Etalon included a few behavior and health tests.

Under Temperament my horse had 2 copies of the curiousity gene. They describe it briefly: “horse may be more curious than vigilant.” It explained a lot of his behavior. I had to move him out of a barn after 19 years. He hadn’t been getting enough hay and was not doing well. When he started recovering back to his normal self, his personality started to re-emerge to a new group of humans. I heard many comments from other boarders about how curious he was. As well as I knew his personality, I had never given any thought about his curiousity.

He also had 2 copies of Sprint vs Endurance. I figured that was great, he could have been a big winner on the race course. Not. “Horse may accel at short distance, quick bursts of speed over endurance type activity.” Sprint is good up to around 8 furlongs. They don’t have Endurance. That explained more of his behavior. He would get all excited when a kid galloped him along the tree line on the other side of the hayfield. He was perfectly content to walk the rest of the way.

I think that combination may explain why he was a perfect therapy horse. He knew when he was doing a therapy lesson and showed no desire to overwork. He was totally chill. He figured it out himself. You can’t train him to do that.


I’d just throw them both some hay!


Teach him to hobble. Then he can still be close and curious, but at a safe distance. And its another good life skill for any horse.

Horses are herd animals and they’ve established their dominance structure. You are not one of their herd. So in my opinion, there is no way to “teach” Rosy not to be dominant. You are the resource she desires and she’s going to persist in chasing George away.

You just work with it. Feed them all, stall them all or whichever one disrupts your goals.

Every herd has a dominant horse who is going to dictate what happens. But you know how to latch a stall, so you are in charge.


Yeah, I do that. Rosy will back off, but as soon as he thinks it’s “safe” he comes right back.
I work with my boys at liberty most of the time; I just ask them to “stand” for things like grooming, hoof-pick, fly masks, turnouts, etc, so if I want to tie one, I have to get a halter and lead from the barn. He’ll go into his stall/run if I insist on it, and if I close the gate behind him it solves the problem for the moment, but that doesn’t address the Jealousy issue.
Probably it’s an Equine thing, just like it’s a human thing, and short of getting rid of George (not gonna happen), it not really “solvable” and simply is what it is; they are emotional beings, and don’t “reason” to any great extent. They get along OK when I’m not in the picture; probably I should just leave them to work it out.
I escalate things with this old crop I keep in the barn, and probably I will start putting it in my back pocket and going after Rosy with it as required to let him know that chasing George off when I’m working with him is unacceptable, and let it go at that. After a few iterations, hopefully he will see the crop as a Do Not Disturb sign, and keep his distance. It’s a good theory, anyway :-D.


S1969, “Great Minds Think Alike” :-). Your post arrived just as I was finishing mine up.
Rosy is a guy. I named him “El Rosado”, (The Pink One), 'cause he has a very fair complexion, and blue eyes. I call him Rosy, or Rose. Or Rosado when he is heading for trouble.
El Rosado:

And yes; he’s young, but definitely a wannabe Alpha.


I keep my two geldings at home. The 11 yr old is dominant over the 22 yr old. Both are warm, friendly horses with humans. Popping one of them into a stall is sometimes the most expedient way to being able to do whatever it is I’m doing. Sometimes though, I’d like to be able to change a blanket or fly mask or check a hoof without having to physically separate the horses. Of course all is well if I’m messing with the younger horse as the older horse will keep his distance (unless I’m riding then he can be a pest lol), but if I’m messing with the older horse I had the same problem where the younger horse thought he should be able to push the older horse out of the way and monopolize my attention.

First things first. This is a safety issue. Can’t have horses bowling each other over while the humans are in the mix. So physical separation either by tying or stalling is the safest option. Secondly, we have to teach a horse a skill before we can utilize a skill. So we need to be able to reliably influence the young horse’s behavior in a training environment without having a halter on him before we can reasonably expect to have an influence on him in the real life setting of working with the older horse in the loose group setting. Sure any yahoo can influence any horse by getting big and loud. And we’ll absolutely do that if we need to preserve our safety.

My younger horse (that’s much older than your younger horse) has extensive ground work skills. Part of that ground work is fine tuning the much maligned “turn in” where the horse turn in to face and approaches the handler after a “lunging” exercise. The fine tuning I’m speaking of is controlling how far the horse turns in / how close he approaches. Like any training program, we may have to get to a “loud” cue at first to influence the behavior but through consistent progressive training we teach the horse to respond to a much lighter / more subtle cue. A very similar training occurs teaching the horse to back up / away from our personal space if the horse has creeped up on us. At any rate, all that is done on a line and at liberty without another horse in the mix. Once the horse is responding reliably to my change of energy, my intention, “the force of my regard”, I can then utilize those same skills to prevent my young horse from bothering my old horse while I put his fly mask on or whatever.

So the short version is, I give my bossy young horse “the look” and he keeps his butt over there. It works because he’s been trained to respond in that manner to that look.


Horses definitely do jealousy, but would probably be more properly labeled “resource guarding” or some such. My horses know when I am present it is my herd and no one fusses with anyone else. You already do liberty work. Will Rosy back away from you when you ask? I find a good stomp of my foot with an aggressive posture offers emphasis. Since you already interact in a conversational way with both horses I think it is acheivable for Rosy to learn to let you work on George. But while he is learning, always keep one eye on Rosy and teaching Rosy will need to take precedence in the moment over working on George. Good luck and be careful!


Hi Bonnie

Yeah, they listen to me, and will move if asked, but the “Stay!” part is on an “I will if it suits me.” basis. It might be worthwhile to find my Clicker, but I’m lazy . . .
And George is not the innocent victim here; he definitely plays the martyr, making silly little squealing noises when Rosy pushes him around (zero bite marks on his butt, so I know it’s not an “ouchie” vocalization), and tosses these totally ineffective mock kicks. I tell him “Kick him George! Plant one on his kisser; he’ll leave you alone!” (they are barefoot, so unlikely to do much damage, even if he did land one), but he just gives me this pitiful look; “Oh poor, poor me. Come rescue me Daddy”. I should re-name him Eeyore.
Some days I wonder what ever possessed me to want a Mule :-D.


Is Rosy already weaned? He should still be with his dam, but obviously you can’t change that now if he’s not for whatever reason. Is George literally the only other horse (or mule, in this case) on the farm? Even if so, he’s not good for this colt right now, that’s for sure. Not either one’s fault at all, obviously, but keeping them together is literally teaching/reinforcing this 4-month old foal to be a total inappropriate bully. Is there any possibility of putting the youngster in with a larger/more functional horse herd with better dynamics that won’t put up with a literal tiny toddler terrorist of a foal in their midst that behaves so inappropriately? That would be best for him and likely go a long way to teaching him some boundaries that can also carry over to his interactions with you…

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I believe he’s 5 years old, not 5 months.


5 years, not 5 months. George, OTOH is a big baby sometimes; he is 23yo, going on toddler :-D.
Rosy is a “Kentucky Spotted Mountain Horse”. He has been on a growth spurt since he came to live with us last summer, and is currently close to 15hh, and probably 900lb.
We’ve had a harsh winter this year, and haven’t been riding, but I had him out for a short walk yesterday, and other than being a little wound up, he did fine; he even worked the front gate for me once he settled down a bit. “Come on Springtime.”

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