Aggression in Horses

Aggression in Horses


Horses are our loyal companions who have carried up mountains, across rivers, and into battle, but horses have their bad days too.  Aggression is a surprisingly common problem for horse owners, both toward humans and other horses.  If your horse is demonstrating aggressive behavior, the first thing you should do is call the vet to make sure there is not an underlying problem that is causing them pain.  Horses most commonly show aggressive behavior when they do not have enough personal space in their stall, pasture or in the ring.  Other reasons horses may be aggressive include protecting themselves when they feel frightened, acting out due to hormonal increases or because they are stressed by changes to their environment.  Pay attention to your horse’s body language because you will usually be able to detect if your horse is upset before they act out.


Aggressive Body Language:

  • Pinned ears
  • Lips pulled back
  • Pawing
  • Swishing / Clamping Tail
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Tense muscles
  • Squealing, Snorting
  • Chasing


If your horse has aggressive tendencies, pay attention to what is going on to trigger the behavior.  Most horses are not mean by nature so if you can determine what activities, noises or animals upset them you can manage their behavior.  Most cases of horse aggression are caused by a horse feeling fearful, threatened or territorial.  Talk to your veterinarian or trainer to find training techniques or medications that will help sooth your horse so we can all get along.






Aggression in horses.


Pattern of social interactions after group integration: a possibility to keep stallions in a group.


Partners with bad temper: reject or cure?  A study of chronic pain and aggression in horses.


Adult-young ratio, a major factor regulating social behavior of young: a horse study.


Inhibitory control of the defense-aggression reaction including its cardiovascular components.


Injuries due to human and animal aggression in humans.