I Need Help in Decision About Keeping My Mini

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1roadtoad

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I joined this forum a little over a year ago after acquiring 2 rescue horses that I had recently adopted. I have gathered much information from all you folks, which has been extremely helpful. My dilemma, which is huge for me is: do I keep my horse Cooper or send him back to the rescue center that he came from? Just typing this makes me very sad. Background: 2 years ago after losing my 27 year old mini, Lady I started searching for another middle aged mini mare. None to be found anywhere so, I ended up at a rescue in NY state about an hour from home. I went to this place almost weekly for about 8 months looking at every horse that came to the rescue, most of which were acquired from auctions. Long story, short, I wanted a middle aged mare and ended up with 2 very young recently gelded boys (a lot of arm twisting by the rescue team). Anyway, my problem is this: Cooper, who is 5 years old, is starting to act very much like a stallion. In the last 1-1/2 yrs. he has been a little nippy, pushy and very interested in the girls (donks) when they are in heat. Occasionally, even mounting them, but until now, infrequently. I have accepted this behavior, as "youthful" behavior after talking with others that are more knowledgeable about horses than I am. They have said such behavior is probably because he is young and that he will more than likely grow out of it. Well, this spring things are a bit different. He seems to think he is an intact stallion. The girls are in heat and he is constantly running after them, biting them, mounting them, followed by flehmening and rolling in the dirt, which I have read is classic stallion behavior. Last year when he began this behavior, I had his blood tested to check his testosterone and Anti-Mullerian hormone levels. He's a gelding. Is this normal behavior of a young gelding? Does this happen only in the spring? I have had many geldings (riding horses) in my life, but they all were middle aged and acted like geldings. Will this stallion-like behavior subside/change or is it probably his personality? Any guidance, insight or information about this situation would be much appreciated. I really like/love this little horse when hormones are not raging, but I am worried about my donks safety and the loss of my peace and backyard tranquility.
Note: I got Cooper along with another gelding (Rocky), but Rocky acts like a gelding around the girls, even though is the more dominant of the two boys. Thanks
 
It might be worth re-checking the hormones since he wasn't like this before. I wouldn't call it normal gelding behavior. Yes a gelding can and will mount an interested mare, but there isn't usually much aggression involved. It might cool down in the winter but I think you are stuck with this unless there is a testicle floating around somewhere. You could always separate him from the girls...some places keep geldings in one field and mares in another. But there is no reason to feel guilty about sending him back either. You gave him a chance, if he is making life miserable for you and your girls, he could be just as happy somewhere else. With someone that only has geldings.
 
It might be worth re-checking the hormones since he wasn't like this before. I wouldn't call it normal gelding behavior. Yes a gelding can and will mount an interested mare, but there isn't usually much aggression involved. It might cool down in the winter but I think you are stuck with this unless there is a testicle floating around somewhere. You could always separate him from the girls...some places keep geldings in one field and mares in another. But there is no reason to feel guilty about sending him back either. You gave him a chance, if he is making life miserable for you and your girls, he could be just as happy somewhere else. With someone that only has geldings.
Thank You. You nailed it. I feel incredibly guilty, like I'm giving up on him and he's basically very good natured and a good boy. I've just never had the experience of returning a horse and I'm worried about what will happen to him if he leaves here.
Boo Hoo.
 
I'd have him rechecked, both bloodwork and to see if he retained a testicle. He does sound a little bit over the top with his behavior. I've had several geldings that were gelded late (including a cryptorchid) and they never really acted too studdy, one had been used for breeding too. They'll look at a mare but not loose there minds 😂 They did retain a little extra attitude but nothing obnoxious. They were gelded between 6-10 years of age. I did have one big gelding that exhibited stallion behavior and he never got over it, even in his 30's he was all for the girls. Like LostandFound said, he might be happier in a herd of geldings. And maybe, once spring has passed and hormones settle, things will return to baseline.
 
If I had room I'd be interested in him, sometimes that "something extra" can be channeled and made into a nice show pony. My old pony was a super star in the show ring, he demanded "LOOK AT ME!"
I think I'll have his hormone levels tested again just to be sure that first test was accurate. Then maybe wait a week or two to see if he settles down once the girls are no longer in heat. I wish I had some secret powers to see into the future to determine if it's just a young age thing. Thanks for your insight.
 
It's not a young age thing. It's something they mature into. Which he did. At 5 he is pretty much an adult and should be past most of the baby shenanigans, although boys sometimes don't ever seem to grow up. Technically. if he is going back to the rescue they should be making sure he gets a good home. Although they sound like a very sketchy rescue. They should still screen people and make sure he comes back there if he doesn't work out for the next person. It's still hard but I would feel a little better about that than trying to find a good home myself.
 
It's not a young age thing. It's something they mature into. Which he did. At 5 he is pretty much an adult and should be past most of the baby shenanigans, although boys sometimes don't ever seem to grow up. Technically. if he is going back to the rescue they should be making sure he gets a good home. Although they sound like a very sketchy rescue. They should still screen people and make sure he comes back there if he doesn't work out for the next person. It's still hard but I would feel a little better about that than trying to find a good home myself.
I spoke with the rescue today after posting this thread and they have no problem taking him back to find him a good home, in fact, I have always known that they would do that. When you adopt a horse from them, you have to sign a contract that has a list of the many things you must provide for the horse and a clause that clearly states that if it doesn't work out, you must return the horse to them. They will also find me another horse that would fit better with my little herd.
It's interesting that you say, it's not a young age thing because when I spoke with the owner of the rescue and her assistant today, they both stated that he would probably grow out of it. I guess I have some thinking to do :( Thank You
 
One place I boarded had a large pasture with a mixed herd and a smaller pasture that was affectionately called the "Bad Boy Pasture", for geldings who liked the mares too much. So it definitely happens! I think there were only two horses in there who actually acted on their "feelings" - the rest were mostly in there because they were getting the crap beat out of them by the big herd. But the two that needed to be in there NEEDED to be in there, and they didn't grow out of it.

You could hold off a bit and see if maybe this only happens when they are in heat or only in the spring (I think the first spring heat could be a little more intense for everyone than subsequent ones!) then maybe you could just separate him and his buddy from the mares during those times. But if it's an ongoing, constant issue or you're afraid someone will get hurt, then no need to feel guilty about finding him a more appropriate situation and getting a different horse that fits your setup better.
 
Since the rescue place will take him back, that is what I'd do. All that turmoil in a herd would be too much for me. And keeping the mares all stirred up would make me unhappy. Maybe he will go to a home where someone will give him a good job and channel all that behavior in a good way. Sometimes we are not the best partners for a horse.
I do not have guilt about any horse I moved along. Most went to better pastures than mine--show competition, pairs driving, one-on-one pet homes. I do have some sadness about a mare I had last year. But she needed special conditions which I could not provide. I miss her, but it was for the best.
 
I'd start with testing his hormones again, but do not feel guilty, if he does indeed need to return to the rescue to find a better fit for him.
Minis can be very late dropping their testes, unfortunately, 3 years old is very common, and it's not unheard of for some to wait until 4-5 years old. Testing hormones again, would just be a double check that he's not one of the late bloomers/droppers, and would likely verify his status as gelding. [But, testing just in case, could also show something was missed, and then you'll know for sure.]
 
I would do the testing again to ensure he is indeed a gelding. If he is a gelding, then this is suppose to be fun. If I’m not having fun then I would reevaluate and make the necessary changes. I don’t have any girls at the moment, but my boys do play rough and mount each other during play. My oldest is 5yo and doesn’t mount very often, but he is really lazy. The younger two are constantly giving each other biggie back rides 🤣🤣 I am enjoying my nice, peaceful, easy herd.

I do think some geldings can be more studish depending on the girls too. When I use to board, my biggie gelding was never buddy sour until they put a mare in his pasture and not just any mare, “his mare”. He got a bit crazy, I had never seen him like that before. After about a month or so, I told the barn owner to get that mare out of there or I would find another place. As soon as the mare was permanently out, he was back to his old happy/grumpy self. He was about 17yo at the time.
 
Thank you everyone. You all know so much more about this type of situation than I do, for sure. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and make an appointment to have his hormone levels checked again. At this point, I'm kinda hoping that maybe he's partially intact because I can have that taken care of and then maybe things will calm down around here. In defense of his stallion behavior, one of my donkeys is a little hussy !! She is constantly chasing him around and bothering him for his "attention." After his blood is tested, I'll make a decision as to whether he's a keeper or not. Thanks
 
I have a studdy gelding. I have thought he would be useful at a breeding facility, to get the mare ready for the stallion.
But, he's never mean. He was nippy, too., but I think I cured him of that, at least to me. He likes to give my butt a nip when I am picking hooves, it feels just like a man's pinch. He gets about the same reaction from me, too. 🤨
 
We've had a gelding with us for the last 10 years who is the reason we don't have a mixed herd in the pasture. He's all gelding, never bred but was gelded a little later (like at a few years old...) but he is absolutely snakey around mares, in heat or not! To have a mare in the pasture with all the geldings and him, he'd hurt someone - possibly himself, trying to control the mare and keep her away from the geldings. Some just retain that instinct. I agree with the idea of keeping mares and geldings separate. It can help keep everyone safer and happier.

You have a good plan for moving forward. And please don't feel that you're giving up on him. That's not the case. It's ok that you've done your very best by him but, for his own safety and the safety of the rest of your animals, you're planning a back up that will be for his best interest and safety. That IS responsible!
 
First thing this morning, I spoke with my vet regarding Cooper's stallion-like behavior. She said that his chasing my mares and mounting them is not unusual however, she said that his behavior after he mounts my little hussy donkey, the flehming and rolling around in the dirt is in her experience, really unusual for a gelding, very stallion-like. She is not the vet that I used to test Cooper's hormone level, so we didn't talk about that too much (my backup vet did the testing, so I'll call her tomorrow). Second thing that happened this morning was that the boys trainer came. Instead of doing our usual ground training, I decided to use the time to just talk with the trainer to see what she thought about Cooper's behavior and whether I could or should try to work around it or attempt to change it. She said that she could take him to her facility and "break him" of his nibbling habits and his pushiness, etc., but she said this would not change his pasture behavior or how he interacts with the girls or my other gelding Rocky, whom he fights with for dominance all the time. During this discussion, we were each grooming a horse. Me Rocky, the trainer, Cooper. A very calm, relaxed activity, and then within a split second, the boys decided to turn on one another. They were both standing upright on their back legs, boxing with each other, just a few inches from both the trainer and me. We both jumped back and without hesitating, the trainer said to me, you need to send Cooper back to the rescue for your own safety. It also became obvious that we were watching a power struggle for dominance over the mini herd. We both agree that Cooper is not aggressive towards humans and is actually very smart and responsive when asked to do something. The aggression he has is towards Rocky, but we also agree that he probably needs to have his own heard of mares or needs to be in a group of only geldings with no mares around. Now that I know what would be good for me and good for the horse, I'll sit with it for a bit before moving forward. Again, thanks everyone for your input. This is a hard one.
 
After 1 month of contemplating and soul searching as to whether or not I should return my horse Cooper to the rescue he came from, I have decided that I should. For my safety and my donks safety. I still don’t feel settled in my decision, but I think it will be best for my little herd and for Cooper. He might have the opportunity to find someone with whom he’s better suited. I have reread every response that you folks have posted here, which I appreciate because it is helping me alleviate some of the guilt that comes with this decision. On a positive note (I hope), I have found another mini that I hope will return a bit of harmony into my backyard. He is 8 yrs., 35” and he drives. Never seriously thought about driving, but maybe I should. I’m excited about this boy. He seems quiet and well mannered. I don’t know much about his background as he’s been bounced around a bit. I’m thinking about sending Cooper back to the rescue on the same day I bring the new horse home. I’ve never changed out a horse for another before, so I’m wondering if this is how it should be done. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Here’s a photo of my new herd member.
 

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