Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

Articles by: Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Slow-Starting Stallion

We just started using a 3-year-old Quarter Horse stallion for breeding. He is sort of interested and will rub his head on the mare a bit, but he drops about half-way, then up, down, up, down. He doesn’t seem shy or anxious, just lazy, like a gelding. Sometimes he’ll just stand for a long time, even with his head in the mare’s tail, or he’ll ditz around with her tail like a foal does with its

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Follow-Up: Carnivorous Horses

Last October, we shared letters from three readers describing horses killing and/or eating small mammals and birds (see “Carnivous Horses,” article #3832 at www.TheHorse.com). We asked for reader response, and I agreed to contact experts in equine nutrition, behavior, and husbandry from aroun

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Kicking Out at Feeding Time

My gelding is stall kicking. I’m not there at feeding time, but my trainer tells me the stall kicking occurs when it’s feeding time. The same thing happened the last two places he lived. She has tried feeding him first, but that didn’t help. His care at this barn couldn’t be better, and we are at a loss as to how to stop the kicking. A suggestion was made to me about kicking chains used

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Trailer Resistance

I’ve had my yearling filly all of her life. I trained her from week one to trailer load, and she was fine with getting in and out. However, this was with a four-horse slant load trailer that steps up. Now I need to load her into a two-horse trailer with a ramp and a divider. When I tried to load her into the two-horse trailer, she would not load and tried many evasive tactics (rearing,

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Foot Work: Training for Hoof Care

My only horse finally lived out his days with me last fall. He died peacefully at the great old age of 32 years. He had been with me through thick and thin for 21 years, and was a sweetheart of a horse. He came to me completely broke and was always easy. His only issue was his hind feet–he just didn’t want anyone messing with them. Even for a trim we needed to tranquilize him, and it

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Clusters of Aggression Problems

I have an almost 4-year-old Peruvian stallion, born and raised on my farm, living with only his mother and a sister. Because of my inexperience, I treated him as a pet. Since a very young age, he showed a strong will. When I started saddle

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Keeping a Stallion With a Foaling Mare, or Mares

We have a mare and stallion together in a pasture. We borrowed a stallion in August just to breed this mare. They have been together since then, and we just had the mare checked for the first time since they were together and found out that

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Fly Masks

Do you know if fly masks affect the behavior of horses or how they interact with one another?

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Truck Training

I recently had a difficult time trailering my horse to a show. While loading him, we had backed the trailer up to the barn, which resulted in a situation where he became afraid of the truck/trailer by the barn area. After returning from the

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Carnivorous Horses

While taking questions from the audience at a one-day behavior program in New Zealand this May, a well-respected horse owner and trainer described behavior she had recently witnessed in a horse involving a scenario I had never heard or thought

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Stallion Mounting Behavior

I’m a veterinarian asking this question on behalf of clients who are standing a stallion at stud. The stallion isn’t new to breeding or to this farm; he’s in his third or fourth breeding season. He normally breeds eagerly, without hesitation

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Horse Behavior and Welfare Conference

A recent gathering of equine behavior and welfare specialists in Holar, Northern Iceland, gave scientists from around the world the opportunity to present their work and review the science underpinning management practices on the horse. The

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Controlling Cribbing

There is a new 3-year-old gelding in my barn. He cribs and wears a collar; the collar seems awfully tight to me. A respected friend says that the other horses might pick up this habit from this horse. Is that true? And how can I work with

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Anti-Social Behavior

I am looking for some guidance on a horse I’d like to buy. He is an ex-racehorse, about eight years old, with no information on his history–not even a name.

The problem is that he kicks at other horses when ridden. He kicks

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