Last Updated on April 29, 2022
Have you ever wondered what the most aggressive horse breeds are? If you’re nervous of horses they can seem like big, intimidating animals! Let’s find out how to tell if a horse is being aggressive, and what the most aggressive horse breeds are.
Why Are Horses Aggressive?
Horses are very rarely aggressive, and normally they are gentle and placid creatures that like to play and relax. Horses have a very sociable nature and enjoy the company of other horses or humans.
The horse is a prey animal, which in the wild would live in herds alongside other horses. They are more likely to spend their time evading predators than attacking other animals.
There is one situation in which horses in the wild are aggressive, and that is when two or more entire male horses fight for dominance. This display of aggression is designed to decide who gains control of a herd of mares, and they will display very aggressive behavior towards each other. It is not unusual for stallions to be injured during these aggressive encounters.
When horses are in a domesticated situation, they rarely behave aggressively. You may see horses showing mild signs of aggression if they are turned out in a paddock as a herd, but this normally settles down once a hierarchy is established. In extreme situations, one horse may bully another, causing it to become isolated from the herd.
If a horse is behaving aggressively towards a human, it is most likely because it feels threatened, trapped, or intimidated. The horse has a ‘flight or fight’ mentality – meaning it will choose escape as the first option, and only show aggression as a last resort.
It is very unusual for a horse to be aggressive towards a human, and if this does occur then the horse will normally back down as soon as the potential threat is removed or it is allowed to escape. If your horse is behaving aggressively, it is vital to seek the help of a professional equine behaviorist to help identify the reason for this behavior.
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How To Tell If A Horse Is Being Aggressive
If a horse is being truly aggressive, you will be able to spot some characteristic signs. Remember that it is highly unlikely that a horse would ever exhibit these signs towards a human, unless it was being provoked. However, you may see horses acting aggressively towards each other in a herd situation, as they try to assert dominance over one another.
It is important to be able to tell if a horse is being aggressive, as this is normally a sign that the horse is highly uncomfortable and wants to escape from a situation. An aggressive horse may attack a person in an attempt to free itself from something it is scared of, so early recognition of these signs can help to prevent injury to both horse and handler. It is more likely to see a horse behaving aggressively if it is confined in a stall, as a horse in a larger area will normally move itself to a safe zone.
The following behaviors are all signs of aggression in horses:
- Ears flattened backwards
- Lips retracted backwards
- Rapid, swishing tail movements
- Snaking of the head and neck
- Pawing and stamping of the forelegs
- Head bowing
- Snorting and squealing
- Threatening to kick
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Which Are The Most Aggressive Horse Breeds?
In truth, there are no breeds of horse that are more aggressive than others. Aggression is not a trait normally shown by particular types of horses, and is normally a result of the individual horse and it’s temperament rather than the breed. So, while some breeds of horse are more excitable, or easier to train, or more playful, there are none that are more aggressive.
However, what we do know is that horse that are not familiar with humans or that are scared of humans are more likely to behave in an aggressive manner. This is because they do not trust humans, and will act aggressively to try and escape from an unwanted human. It is highly unlikely that a horse would attack a human without provocation, and they are far more likely to try and escape an unwanted situation.
If you ever spend time with wild, feral, or unhandled horses, you may come across one which behaves aggressively. These include:
- The Wild Przewalskis’ Horse from Mongolia
- Feral Mustangs from the United States
- Feral Brumbies from Australia
So, as we have learned, the most aggressive horse breeds are those that are fearful of humans, such as wild and feral horses. Horses are not naturally aggressive animals, and most domesticated horses will live peacefully alongside humans. All horses can behave aggressively if they feel threatened or insecure.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the most aggressive horse breeds! Have you ever helped an aggressive horse learn to trust and bond with humans? Or maybe you’ve come across one type or breed of horse that is more aggressive than others? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Causes A Horse To Become Aggressive?
Horses are not naturally aggressive creatures, and it is very unusual for a horse to turn aggressive. If a horse is behaving aggressively, this is normally in response to some sort of threat or in self defence.
How Do You Calm An Angry Horse?
If a horse seems angry, aggressive, and distressed, the best way to calm it is to remove the threat that is making him uncomfortable. It may be a good idea to leave the horse alone to calm down, with other equine company within sight.
How Do You Deal With A Defensive Horse?
If you are working with a horse that behaves defensively, you will need to work with it to help it learn to trust you. A defensive horse behaving this way out of fear, and it will take time for you to earn its trust and make it feel safe.
Why Is My Horse Biting All Of A Sudden?
If your horse suddenly starts biting, he is trying to tell you that he is uncomfortable with something. This might be physical discomfort, or that he is scared of or unhappy about something he is being asked to do.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE