A bit of background:
About 7 years ago, I added a 10 year old 15.1 hand cute little bay to my trailer during an OTTB buying expedition. His owner needed him gone yesterday and he really did not care where. This seemed sad to me given that the horse had raced 98 times over the past 7 years and it seemed the scrappy little fellow deserved a chance.
I turned him out at home to give him time to adjust to life on our farm. He immediately became attached to any and all horses around him. I am used to dealing with some attachment issues but this is extreme.
After three years with no improvement, I found him a home with a patient trail rider thinking that maybe a change from our farm would help.
Several months ago, he shows up for sale. I call about him and find out that nothing has changed so, afraid of where he might end up, I take him back.
He is now 17 and just as bad as ever. When out with other horses he is happy but un-catchable and difficult to manage when you do get him. He currently lives by himself but across the fence from other horses. He is fine when they are out but he loses his mind when they come in to eat. When put on a farm by himself, he eventually calms down but, after coming home, he is immediately attached again. It is not about specific horses - any horse will do.
Has anyone ever dealt with attachment this extreme? He will always have a home here but it I hate that he can't have a job because his neurotic little mind can't relax since there are other horses about. I have tried everything, for years at this point. He may never change but if anyone has any suggestions I would be happy to give them a try!!!
Last edited by horseshoe56; Aug. 29, 2011 at 04:11 PM.
If he has 17, and you have been dealing with the same issue for years, he probably won't change. The horse is clearly showing you who he is.
If it were me, and I could afford it.... at this point, I'd find him a permanent buddy and just live with the fact that they have to be together 24/7. Maybe a pony, a mini, or a retired horse. And just let him be the clingy boyfriend.
Some may disagree with me but really how long can you bang your head against the wall?
Might be worth discussing with your vet, if you haven't already.... just to make sure there is nothing physical going on that may heighten his anxiety level.
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
I relearned to ride on a very, very herdbound mare. She was in her 20s, and wasn't going to change. Started with trail rides with her owner riding her buddy; the first few times we went out the mare put her nose on his rump and could barely stand to be more than a few feet from him. She got better over time, riding with a buddy horse, and eventually I could ride her in an indoor attached to the barn and after a few minutes of calling, she'd settle. But that is really all she was capable of; she just needed other horses nearby, poor neurotic little soul. She went lame and I graduated to riding her buddy, and OMG the DRAMA whenever we took him away. (He was, and still is, a saint of a horse, and put up with all her shenanigans and was not herdbound to her, so we could take him away.)
So if you have a friend who rides and a second horse to ride, maybe you can work with this guy while riding with someone else. But he probably is who he is, complete with herdboundness.
I agree with the suggestion of getting him a permanent buddy that goes everywhere with him.
Unless you are leading a very competitive life with him just let him have a friend that he knows is always there because it will make both of your lives easier they are herd animals and that is a deep instinct to try and override and train out... It's easier to work with if they have a buddy that is always there. Then you can take him away for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc and he always goes back to the same friend.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
If you can afford him, can you just call him retired and let him be the pasture buddy for everyone else? Or is he a danger to himself?
I know it's a PITA having a horse like him. I had a horse that ran fences for 5 days straight and lost about 100 pounds when I had to separate him from the mares who were beating him to a pulp. It was excruciating for both of us...it never got better and he broke down pretty bad and was ultimately euthanized (he had a chronic injury that couldn't heal from his manic behavior). It was very, very sad having a a horse that insecure. One of the hardest times in my horse experience.
After trying everything with this guy, I began to believe there was no fixing him but one can hope !
It is very important to me that my horses live as stress-free a life as possible and this poor guy just can't let the stress go. Too bad I can't teach him to meditate!!! Turned out alone, he is ridable but he never really gives you his full attention since a part of his brain is always aware of the other horses. If turned out with others then he is settled and happy in the field but it is almost impossible to work with him.
I am lucky enough to have the facility to just put him out in a situation where he will never be alone. While he can't have a job, it seems the best way to make him happy.
Thanks again and if anyone else has a miracle cure I am certainly listening!!!