February 5, 2018

The Tiny Terrorist

I mentioned last week that I'd been traveling a lot.  One of the reasons my trainer is so valuable to me is that when I travel, even in the middle of blanket change season, I can just leave, not get updates and not have to worry about anything.  I usually ask for weekly updates on the weekends though.

On a Sunday in between two weeks of travel, I asked how he'd been the past week.  "Well, he's been great under saddle, but we're having a bit of a problem in the field..."

I expected a "hard to catch" relapse.  I did not expect her to tell me he'd turned into a Tiny Terrorist.

Not pictured: Connor, stage left, being a tiny terrorist, we thought due to being turned out with a mare.

She said, "I've had to switch him into solo turnout in the paddock I was resting.  He started going after [low man turnout buddy he's been with for months] all of a sudden.  Last week he was running them so hard I was worried one of them would go through the fence.  He can't keep up with them, but he'll wait until they slow down and set them off running again.  I also watched him walk up to [another buddy] and rip a huge chunk out of his turnout sheet with no warning."

I had, and really still have, no idea what to make of this.  It's so unlike him.  He's always been the easy going one that we can turnout anywhere with anyone and he's chill.  And it's not like this is a new turnout situation or new buddies for him.  The last addition to that field was over 6 weeks ago.

But, that said, the longer I think about it, these past eight months are the first time since we've had him (6+ years) in which he's been turned out with more than one other horse.  Maybe he's struggling with herd dynamics?  Maybe he's just a dick?  Maybe (my trainer disagrees with this theory) the baby WB has been picking on him (I've noticed a lot of bite marks on C's neck lately) and Connor is taking it out on the other guys?  Maybe it's Napoleon syndrome?  Maybe he's always been this way and we've just never noticed before?

So, Connor's back on solo turnout, more for the safety of his former buddies than anything else.  I don't feel as bad for him this time though, because at the last place, our only solo turnout was very isolated - he couldn't see or hear the other horses unless they were inside the barn.  At this place, he shares a fenceline with three geldings on his left and two on his right, so I'm sure he'll be happier.

That beautiful winter south central Indiana landscape /s

Anyone else ever had a horse just flip a switch in turnout like this before?  I am so baffled.


  1. Is he truly being aggressive or just playing hard? The boys have always played hard. Destroying things and ripping stuff up is definitely a boy thing, as are mild bite marks on the neck.

    1. Actually aggressive :( I was told he was going after them hard with ears pinned, and was genuinely at risk of either running the other horses through the fence or someone doing a tendon running in the mud.

  2. Gavin does it when he's in a group that includes his bff. He starts acting like his gelding-bro is actually a mare and it's like he's claiming him. Lots of pinning horses into corners, kicking, etc. And it's definitely not playing - he seems to seriously want to inflict some damage.

  3. I don't have any useful advice to offer, but I'm glad the solo turnout situation at this barn still gives him plenty over over the fence interaction. Definitely a complicated situation :( you want them to be able to be horses, but you don't want anyone getting hurt.

  4. I've known horses to get brattier in the field as they get more confident under saddle, but this does seem to be an extreme version of that. It's especially odd that his turnout buddies haven't changed.

  5. Stories like this make me feel a little better about Val's lone horse status. Herd dynamics + turnout calculus can be stressful - for all parties! Second pic looks like he's incarcerated lol...

  6. Candy recently went through something similar; she's always been turned out with Gina and Moe in my big front pasture during the day and brought into the smaller paddock adjacent to the barn with them at night. A couple of weeks ago, I went out to catch her to ride her and ended up spending two hours trying to round them up! Every time I would get close, she would take off and chase Gina until Gina went with her. A few days after that, I took Gina out to groom her and Candy spent an hour galloping along the fenceline screaming.

    I was mostly concerned for pregnant Gina, so I started keeping Candy in the barn paddock during the day. She's in there by herself, but there are horses in a paddock next to her and right behind her, so like you, I don't feel THAT bad.

    Good luck with Connor!

  7. ugh Remus is very good at turnout BUT BUT BUT he has been a jerk with different horses before. I am a bit nervous because he and Sterling had a mare out with him this summer and she was Queen Bee and all went well. She left and now they have another mare coming in and my barn owner is like OH we will put her with Remus and Sterling and I warned: Remus will think the mare is his if she is not ballsy enough to keep him away. Also I hate mare/gelding turnout. BUT that will be her issue to keep up with it all. SIGH. I hate herd dynamics sometimes. I hope Conner gets his panties out of that twist (His expression is like, me bad NAWWW) He is still the cutest...

  8. The gelding I had as a kid did this with one specific young horse. He got so aggressive with him that you could actually see that he’d completely stop thinking about anything other than getting that young gelding. To this day I don’t know what caused it but after one incident we kept them separate for a year and then reintroduced them. He was fine for months even cuddling and grooming the young gelding and then one day he snapped again. Really the weirdest thing since he was always turned out with large herds and was a calm, respectful, leader Horse that was really a sweetheart

  9. No useful advice here. Sounds like a frustrating situation.