Serious advice please

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Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2003
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I had a mare foal last night who was given to me because of her wild, irratic behavior. I have been working with her and we had come to an understanding of sorts. Well she foaled last night and I have never had to deal with this level of aggresive behavior in a mare before. She will not allow anyone in the stall, rears, strikes, bites and I mean tries to rip you to shreds, not just take a bite and make a point. Her baby is fine, she is not aggresive towards her little one but how do I get through these first high hormone days without getting killed?! (how do I get the stall clean? How do I get water in there?) Any tips on how you have dealt with a highly aggresive Mom? I know foal heat often mellows them out but that is still 10 days away!
Sorry, but I am no help I just wanted to respond with encouragement for you.

I had a maiden mare that was always a pain until she was in foal then she settled down beautifully.

When she foaled, she's has returned to her previous "skitzo" behaviour and highly protective of the baby and rears and tries to strike out.

She's better now that the baby is a few weeks old and I have had her in a small paddock with another mare and foal. The foals are playing together now and the mums munch away on some grass.

I can't think of anything to tell you to try. I never have much luck with a "wild one".

We kind of had the same situation last year. My mare was like how your are describing yours, but she would also not let her filly nurse, and in the process she kicked the #@#@ out of me. So, I called my vet, and we sedated her, and than she was tied while sedated and than I went and did what I needed to do including touching her all over and her filly
And that did seem to help and she did calm down. This year, she has gotten better, but I still am always on the look out for her hooves
Good luck.
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Holy cow, good questions. If she is that hysterical, this is another case where you might consider running tests for EPM etc. anything and everything. The only thing I can come up with is to move the baby out of the stall for a little bit so she doesn't get hurt, while you get in there to catch her and tie her up in the stall so you can do your chores. You might consider getting a one piece rope halter with lead braided right into it. They are pretty easy to get on, you just slip them on, no buckles involved. I'd probably be seeking vets advice to for something that can take the edge off of her that won't hurt the baby and go over your feed program too. Good luck and be careful.
Hm, I've never had this problem, but I'm wondering if you can let her out of the stall (kind of "channel" her direction with portable panels or something? maybe to another stall?) while you clean it and put in fresh water, and then herd her and the foal back in?

has the foal had its umbilical cord disinfected? I'm sorry you are having such a time of it, sounds really scary! Good luck!
Ive known of full size horses being like this, and the owners would keep halters and leads on them so they could catch them and tie them up to do the stall, feed and handle baby. Lorie
Been there done that.YOu will need 2 people-1 to catch the mare with some food.Remove her from that stall to another chores and put her back in.If you are alone let her out in a confined area while you do the chores.If you don't want a crazy fearful baby you will need to remove the mare while you work with the baby frequently so it doesn't get the idea that humans are bad things.We wean the babies early from this type of mare since we don't want baby to learn bad habits from mom.Our mare has becomed more relaxed and trusting of us with each foal she has had.Maybe yours will also.Good luck and keep us posted.
OMG You have just made me grateful for both LB Forum members and their advise, and my never having to deal with anything like this !

Usually mares settled down after a few days once they realize you are on their side. I am curious if this mare also has problems with other horses or if it is just people agression?
Well we ran this girl into a back stall without much traffic to allow her to settle down, she was running a track around her origional stall as she had either a door or a horse on three sides. We did grab the baby just after it was born to do the cord and give her antibiotic/tetanus shot....she was still crampy than so fairly distracted. I am afraid to leave a rope on her as I do not want to get the baby stuck in it.

Food does not entice her to stop trying to attack. I am afraid the baby will be injured if we press her too hard, left alone she is a great mom. In her new stall we can feed and water from the front and I guess she will just have to get new bedding on top of old until the baby is stronger and less at risk. Maybe we should put beer in her bucket and chill her out!
We've had an aggressive mare -- protective of her baby -- before........To clean the stall, we closed up the barn and just let her out in the aisle area to roam. Then put food down when we were done and shoo-ed her back into her stall.

To do a little imprinting on the baby, we would shoo the mare into the stall and close the door for a few minutes and love on the foal. The mare would be going nuts, but we didn't separate them for very long before opening the door and reuniting them. The whole time I would also talk to the mare and remind her that we would NEVER hurt her baby.

After doing it a few times, the mare would calm down a little more each time because she knew the process. Because of the mare's behavior, we didn't turn them out to run in the "baby pasture" as quickly as we usually do, so to work on the trust issue with both of them.
I appreciate the suggestions however this is a bit more over the top. There is no shooing this mare away from her baby to even touch it, she virtually stands on it to keep us away. She is literally attacking, not just defending her space, food does not distract her. I think even with a lead on her she would be very dangerous. I am thinking of a pole with a hook on the end! Moving her to the new stall, which was about 4 feet, we opened the stall doors, shut all the barn doors and left, kept checking back until we found she had moved herself! I was hoping to hear there was a feed additive that would chill her a bit.
One other word of advise... do not breed this mare again. She will pass this behavior to her foal and you will be dealing with another wild, eratic horse. I would wean her as early as you can and then work with the foal with lots and lots of hands on.

There is not much else that you can do. The first few days the mare will be the most protective. I would go and talk quietly with her several times a day till she starts to relax. After a few days she should start to settle down. Under no circumstances would I seperate her from her foal during this early stage. If you thought she was nuts before, she will go wild crazy if you take the foal away for any lenght of time.
I totally agree with Riverdance on this one. Do not try to separate them or you'll have even more problems. Then she will see you and anticipate separation from her baby.

I have never dealt with this and have limited foaling experience but there is an herbal calming remedy that my friend uses for her horse. If you do a search on herbal calming remedies for horses there should be quite a few on the market.

Good luck, I don't envy your situation!
I have had some, especially first time moms, become extremely protective, but never like this one of yours! And yes, usually after a few days, they settle down some.

If she is threatening, or actually attacking? What has been your reaction?? If you run away, this is teaching her that this behavior works. If her stall is fairly large, or there is a place where you have enough room, I would put a chair in the corner, and just sit in it. Don't try to invade her or the baby's space. Let her calm down and know your presence is not going to hurt anything. I would do that for several days til she is comfortable with it--- then I would try grooming HER, not the foal and never get between her and the foal either!

You will have to be patient and work with this one slowly, and usually first time moms are the worst, but this sounds pretty extreme to me.

I have had mares kick at me, or pin their ears and stick their teeth in my face and make a short lunge at me, but when I stood my ground- they didnt come any closer- they were just threatening. If this mare really means to attack, I hate to say it but as a last resort, carry a short riding crop or something to protect yourself with if you must.

I had a friend who bought a really nice gelding back when we were in school, for next to nothing - a full sized horse. He ran the entire family out of his pen. They would not even go in to catch him- threw his feed in over the fence - they were all terrified of him. It was a game to him and he thought it was funny. Of course, they didnt tell my friend this when she went to look at him to buy him- she went right in, walked right up to him- caught and rode him and bought him! He was always a gentleman and had loads of personality. She had him til he died at about 29 years old! We had more fun with him and he showed well for her too. Nothing he wouldnt do. He just had their number and they ran out when he made threats, which then escalated to running them out literally.

You know your mare though, and the gelding mentioned above didnt have hormones out of whack and a new foal, but SOME behavior, or continuation of it, is learned. Perhaps your vet may have some handy advice? I would avoid tranquilizing if at all possible, but this is a big hump in her behavior that she is going to have to get past. She will continue to do, what you will allow and tolerate.

Just BE CAREFUL and make sure you have 'eyes in the back of your head' on this one!! I would not remove her from the foal either to work with the baby- even my gentle mares would go ballistic doing that.
Oh man, I'm sorry I didn't mean for you to take the baby far away. I meant for you to move her out of the way while trying to catch this horse so she didn't get hurt in the process. Geesh be careful and I really think a vet call is in order.
I'd be very careful with trying to sit in the stall with this mare. We had a similar, but I even think, slightly less, aggressive mare when I was young and she was not intimidating--she was meaning to hurt someone.

And in the process, she would probably run over her foal while protecting it. The best option was using gates to help usher her from her dirty stall to a clean stall across the barn and then back again while we quickly cleaned her stall out.. definitely would wean the foal early, and in our case we didn't breed this mare back.

Please be careful, I know that the advice of calling the bluff and standing your ground is great for most protective moms, but the mare I'm talking of and it sounds like yours-may not back down. Don't get hurt---

good luck.

These are just more suggestions and hopefully you will find one that works for you.

One would be to carry a wooden baseball bat. Don't use it to hit but use it to keep the mare at a safe distance every time you enter the stall. Just keep it extended out and yell NO every time she comes at you and only use the bat to push her away. I would start by opening her door and setting feed in and leave. Try doing this several times a day. Always talking to her in a soft voice and only raise your voice when she shows any signs of aggression. You have to talk loud and sharp enough to get her attention and only when she moves toward you. I would also try to arrange it so her water bucket was also near the door so you had to open it to fill and leave. It also might work if you squirt her with the hose when she advances and tell her NO. These are two types of corrections that are not harmful to the horse but might work in teaching her to respect your space. If you show no interest in the foal and only to her then she might start to relax.

Also if you put a rope on her make sure it is a thick nylon rope. These tend not to get tangled as easy around legs and when the mare steps on it, it will slow or stop her charge toward you.

I had one mare that was aggressive but not as bad as yours.

I wish you the best of luck and congrats on your new little foal. Hopefully soon you will be able to enjoy it.

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