We consider a gauge theory of vector fields in 3D Minkowski space. At the free level, the dynamical variables are subjected to the extended Chern–Simons (ECS) equations with higher derivatives. If the color index takes n values, the third-order model admits a 2n-parameter series of second-rank conserved tensors, which includes the canonical energy–momentum. Even though the canonical energy is unbounded, the other representatives in the series have a bounded from below the 00-component. The theory admits consistent self-interactions with the Yang–Mills gauge symmetry. The Lagrangian couplings preserve the energy–momentum tensor that is unbounded from below, and they do not lead to a stable non-linear theory. The non-Lagrangian couplings are consistent with the existence of a conserved tensor with a 00-component bounded from below. These models are stable at the non-linear level. The dynamics of interacting theory admit a constraint Hamiltonian form. The Hamiltonian density is given by the 00-component of the conserved tensor. In the case of stable interactions, the Poisson bracket and Hamiltonian do not follow from the canonical Ostrogradski construction. Particular attention is paid to the “triply massless” ECS theory, which demonstrates instability even at the free level. It is shown that the introduction of extra scalar field, serving as Higgs, can stabilize the dynamics in the vicinity of the local minimum of energy. The equations of motion of the stable model are non-Lagrangian, but they admit the Hamiltonian form of dynamics with a Hamiltonian that is bounded from below.