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Mini mare bullied by goat

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crazievanilla

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Hello all!

My mother got a 10 year old mini mare to add to her hobby farm about 4 months ago. She was joined into a barn/fenced-in area with two 4 year old Nigerian Dwarf goats (no horns). Prior to the mare moving in, the male goat dominated the female goat and the female goat was terribly shy. The male loved people but the female wouldn’t let us pet her.

This all changed when the mare moved in. The female goat became dominant and very aggressive toward the mare. The first few weeks were bad - the mare was scared to leave her corner. Things are better now, but the female goat still bullies. She will go out of her way to ram into the mare. The mare is constantly on edge when the female goat is around. And it’s really affecting her attitude towards us humans as well - the mare has become unfriendly and uncooperative.

As an experiment, I locked the female goat in the barn and sat inside the corral. After a few minutes, the mare came up to me and let me pet her for an extended period. She would never do this with the goat around.

Oddly, the female goat is also now very friendly toward people. It’s like she’s had a personality transplant. But I hate to see the mare always on edge. We’re also trying to retrain the mare on groundwork and i feel awful ending a strong training session by throwing her back in to the pen with her bully.

I would love to get your advice on helping this mare assert herself with the goat and regain some confidence. We REALLY don’t want to have to re-home anyone. No one is unsafe, but there is plenty room for improvement.

Do you think adding a second mini to the mix would help or make things worse?

Thank you!
 
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Marsha Cassada

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Sorry, but sounds to me like a bad mix for your horse. I'm surprised the goats have not eaten her mane and tail already also. I would invest in some hog panels and make a separate pen for the mare. Once the dynamics settle down, perhaps they can mix together in the future. I have a friend who had dwarf Nigerian goats and miniature horses. Their pens adjoined, but they did not mix.
 

crazievanilla

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Thank you, Marsha. We are moving in that direction. And, no, no signs of any interest in chewing her mane or tail.

I also want to add that they have separate stalls for night time. But all the action occurs when they are released into their common fenced-in area.

What makes this even odder is that these two spend most of the day glued to each other’s side. As I look out to the barn now, the female goat is standing such that her head is underneath the mare’s head, within an inch of each other if not touching. And they will stand there peacefully for minutes on end but if you keep watching, you can see the microaggressions. The goat moves freely around while the mare is tense and will usually turn her hind to the goat if she wants to walk away. I think the goat has really become attached to the horse but the horse has the crap end of a toxic relationship!

Thank you again for the advice.
 
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Marsha Cassada

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Animals communicate chiefly by body language. You are pretty observant so you are noticing this. Probably the goat is not being buddy-buddy with your mare, she is using body language to dominant her. We cannot make submissive animals into dominant animals. They are what they are. You cannot teach your mare to stand up to the goat. Not going to happen. I would separate them; they do not seem like a good personality fit. But that's just my opinion.
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Northwolf

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I agree, I would separate them too. Get another horse for the little mare, she will be happier that way.
Does the goat attack the other goat too? I'm not sure if your goat has the same issue as our goat had, but maybe this story can help: We had two african dwarf goats (males) long time ago, and there was one who was very aggressive towards the horses and the other goat too. He attacked them regularly with full physical effort. A breeder I asked told me that there is a neurological defect on some of the (non-purebred) african dwarf goats that causes very aggressive behaviour against other animals (and other goats), especially males are affected from this. The only thing we could do is separating him, because he had big horns and I don't wanted him to injure other animals. He was much happier as soon as he was separated and got a little luxury area only for himself. He lived a long, good live (died with 17) and became a beloved pet of my sisters mother-in-law.
 

plaid mare

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I agree, I would separate them too. Get another horse for the little mare, she will be happier that way.
Does the goat attack the other goat too? I'm not sure if your goat has the same issue as our goat had, but maybe this story can help: We had two african dwarf goats (males) long time ago, and there was one who was very aggressive towards the horses and the other goat too. He attacked them regularly with full physical effort. A breeder I asked told me that there is a neurological defect on some of the (non-purebred) african dwarf goats that causes very aggressive behaviour against other animals (and other goats), especially males are affected from this. The only thing we could do is separating him, because he had big horns and I don't wanted him to injure other animals. He was much happier as soon as he was separated and got a little luxury area only for himself. He lived a long, good live (died with 17) and became a beloved pet of my sisters mother-in-law.
I din't know that about African dwarfs. My sister and I had debated about getting one as a companion for my mini. He used to be best friends with my German shepherds, but they died of old age. Are the females affected as well?
 

crazievanilla

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Long delayed update here - but we've been hard at work expanding our pens. I am now happy to share that the mare has her own space and it is night and day! The mare is coming up to people, running and bucking like a little filly. A 300 lb horse so delighted to be free of her 40 lb terrorizer.

Thank you to all for the great advice - it worked!

Does the goat attack the other goat too? I'm not sure if your goat has the same issue as our goat had, but maybe this story can help: We had two african dwarf goats (males) long time ago, and there was one who was very aggressive towards the horses and the other goat too. He attacked them regularly with full physical effort. A breeder I asked told me that there is a neurological defect on some of the (non-purebred) african dwarf goats that causes very aggressive behaviour against other animals (and other goats), especially males are affected from this. The only thing we could do is separating him, because he had big horns and I don't wanted him to injure other animals. He was much happier as soon as he was separated and got a little luxury area only for himself. He lived a long, good live (died with 17) and became a beloved pet of my sisters mother-in-law.
Oh very interesting. Different from my situation though -- the bully goat is female and she is actually submissive to the other goat (who is her brother). She has only pushed around the mare, but we haven't seen her around any other animals.
 

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