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Nasty Yearling

16 August 2011 No Comment

Nasty Yearling

We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.


I purchased a colt at four months of age. When he arrived, I became painfully aware that this fellow was mannerless!!!. He would bite at you, try to kick you(not just a play kick, but really take aim and try and get you). Now that he is ten months, he just seems to get worse and worse. When you get him out of the stall, he is nipping and grabbing at the rope, or chain. He just seems to have this need to have something in his mouth at all times. One the cross-ties, he is content to stand, but if you try to brush him, he tries to turn to nip or even kick at you. To take his blanket off is a choir, he strikes at you and again nips.

We have had many babies that we have raised, but never one like him. I have used a popper to slap his legs when he strikes, which only makes him flip over while cross-tied (very dangerous in my opinion), I have a chain across his nose when not cross tied and correct him this way, I back him up when he is anxious and really unruly. We have him trimmed just like the other horses every 4-6 weeks and every time, he cannot be done without being twitched and pinned to the wall. Now, he will be gelded as soon as the weather warms as his personality is not one I would want in a stallion and also I have put him up for sale, again I don’t want that nasty of a horse in my barn. But selling will be very difficult with his attitude. He is exercised and lunged–which constitutes challenges in itself. He doesn’t pull on the line but he is always running and striking with his feet. He just wears me out to do anything with him and we have to always be on guard. What else can I try with him. I would like to geld him and just throw him out in the field with the older horses and perhaps they would be quicker and a little tuffer at humbling him, but I have so much money in him I don’t want him tore up.

Any help would be really appreciated.

Cindy Hillard

West Union, Ohio


Dear Cindy:

This is something that you need to work out with the horse. He needs to learn to yield to you, understand that you can make him move his feet, and then you need to earn the trust and respect from the horse. This sounds strange but in order to correct this behavior, you need to deal with your relationship in terms that the horse understands. You are the leader and he is subordinate. A subordinate horse would never consider this behavior with a leader. You may have to send this horse out of your area with energy ý waving your hands or the end of the lead rope if necessary. This is something that carries over from human to human but must be reinforced by us or the horse will quickly establish his place in the food chain with another human which may be up or down.

You get to this point in your relationship by working on the following:


Ground manners




Ground Driving

Round Penning

Lateral movement

Horse Games

This horse needs to understand where he is in the “food chain”. I don’t know if you are assertive or not, but that really helps at first. We address how to use these techniques on our web site. This takes some work on your part. You may have to get big with your horse and make him yield the hindquarters, front end, etc. My experience with horses such as yours is that even though you believe that being nippy or a little pushy are his only bad habits — there’s probably a lot more that you aren’t dealing with or don’t realize. I bet that he has a tendency to want to “visit” with other horses or eat grass with the rider on his back. But, I could be wrong.

I always tell people that you can deal with a problem correctly right now or you can deal with it for the rest of your horse’s life — your choice.

CAUTION: There is some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Horses can cause serious injury. Be sensible and donÕt attempt anything that is outside your comfort level. This information is intended to illustrate how we apply our training techniques, you are responsible for using this information wisely. If you donÕt feel comfortable with your abilities or an exercise, donÕt do it! Seek advice or assistance from a professional horse trainer.

Good Luck — Rhett Russell

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