Horses are protective of their territory and their herd. Most geldings don’t have much fight in them, but fights between stallions are much more vicious: fighting to earn mares or to protect heir band of mares from an approaching stallion. Mares can also be dominant and combative when it comes to deciding who will be alpha.
/ Weapons of Aggression /
While horses first and foremost want to leave if the situation gets tense, if a horse
is backed into a corner, he is equipped and usually willing to fight.
The horse has three weapons to choose from: his teeth to bite, his
front legs to strike, or his back legs to kick.
The horse can be dangerous from all sides. You may be
more aware of this when you’re near the hind legs, but
you need to be cautious around the front end as well.
Biting is the most dominant and deadly
behavior of horses. When horses fight to kill,
they do so by biting at the jugular.
Striking with the front feet can be lightning quick, but is usually provoked. What
makes the strike most dangerous is the
horse’s ability to rear up and then
strike down with his full weight.
Kicking with the hind legs is the
least deadly combative behavior. Most
kicking that you see with your own
horse is a defensive move. If you get
kicked, it’s generally because you
did something that scared or startled
a horse—he’ll kick and run away.
BY JULIE GOODNIGHT WITH HEIDI NYLAND MELOCCO
Understand when horses
are likely to display
aggressive behaviors and
how to stay safe.