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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 11, 2003
    Location
    Amish Country, PA
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    286

    Default A little vent and need some advice, feral colt

    We picked up a weanling (draft cross with who-knows-what) at an auction last weekend for $25. The owner had 8 foals she brought and dumped. I was actually able to talk to her, and she went on and on about her stallion and mares and that this colt should never be bred (the one thing she said I AGREE with) because she suspects he has a genetic disease (shivers) but low and behold the dam of the colt was pasture bred to the same stallion for a full sibling due next year (morals don't apply to her, I suppose). She went on about her program, she has small acreage, MANY "breeding stock," admits to no grass, but said she only supplements with low calorie cow hay in the winter because her horses were easy keepers. She also admitted never needing to feed grain for vitamins b/c they have a mineral block. All of the foals at the auction were skin and bones, including the little one we brought home.

    So...now I've entered the what did I get myself into phase. Vet check showed what we suspected, wormy, and malnourished. He is pretty feral, although sweet enough (thank goodness!). We started a power pak (what fun that is! NOT) and just trying to have him let us catch him, and work on things like putting the halter on and off, leading, and picking up hooves (which need a trim badly but that will not happen until we can get him to let us handle him a little more reliably). I've noticed when he tries to lay down his legs shake. I'm guessing that is where she got the shivers idea from, but my vet suspects he is weak from poor condition. Where I could really use some advise is his behavior in the stall! He won't eat, barely touches the hay and has NO CLUE what feed is. We are treating for ulcers along with the PP, but I suspect some of it is that he has never seen feed or apparently hay. But he does not handle confinement well, he thrashes around like a crazy horse in the stall, slams himself against the walls, throws his head under the feed bucket and slams it repeatedly into the bucket, paces, rears, whirls, weaves, paws, and more body slams. The second we take him out, instant calm. We've been treating him OUT of the stall hoping that he learns the stall is where FOOD is. He is next to his friends, can see them, but he is just explosive. If he calms down and there is a noise (think, me setting a feed back down) he absolutely freaks out back to the pacing, and body slamming.

    I've tried staying in the stall with him (he is fairly calm, although not exactly happy), but the second you walk out of reach he goes nuts again. Part of me says, lets just leave him out 24/7 - but the other part of me says at some point he needs to learn to accept and be calm in a confined area or else this is just going to get worse. The only thing is I don't know how to teach him to be calm, when you walk in the stall with him he is good so there is nothing to correct - but when you are out of reach he'll start to slam himself against the walls. He can literally touch noses with his stall mates on both sides. WWYD? I've never dealt with one like this before and I'm kind of at a loss. Would you just leave him out? My worry there is at some point he gets re-introduced to the stall and then he is a BIGGER spaz. We don't plan on keeping him forever and want to be sure he is safe for his new home once we get him healthy. Just hoping for some ideas....
    Last edited by Yowsa; Nov. 4, 2011 at 09:15 AM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2003
    Location
    Cocoa, Fla
    Posts
    4,188

    Default

    Do you have a small horse/pony you can put in with him and a stall with a paddock attached where you can leave the doors open? Then when stall buddy comes in to eat he will eventually follow.
    Sandy in Fla.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 2, 2006
    Location
    Dallas, NC
    Posts
    2,313

    Default

    How long has he been stalled? Like, in how many hours a day and how many days? Not sure if you're just leaving him in for about an hour and then taking him back out and you've done that for 3 days or if he's been in overnight for a week...

    It just might take time, if your stall is pretty safe (and sturdy) might be best to let him hash it out, maybe put a head-bumper on him, but then you have to have a halter on him and that might not be good.

    What a strange thing, poor guy! I've seen weaving or cribbing or circling but never what you're describing! I can't even imagine seeing that! Good luck!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Posts
    7,400

    Default

    I'd leave him out for a couple weeks if he is more comfortable with that and easy to catch, and work on the stall when he's settled a bit, I think. But if you are concerned about being able to get him for treatment, in might be your only option.

    He's had a very stressful few weeks....anything upsetting you can punt for a week or two is probably better. I'm usually very "get with the program" but in this case I would probably ease him in a bit. Try to keep him with a buddy. He's probably used to being in a herd, being alone probably scares him.

    Plenty of time to get him used to a stall. Most weanlings live out 24/7 anyway.

    I would bring him in at feeding time to eat grain if you can find one he'll eat -- that will help him associate the stall with something good. IF everyone else is eating, he might too. Even if you have to stand there in the stall and hold him/soothe him while he eats the first week or so. Maybe try a rubber pan on the floor and take the feed buckets out. If he starts to get agitated you can pick it up and go outside pretty easily, so he can finish his meal right outside the stall/as close to the stall as possible.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 11, 2003
    Location
    Amish Country, PA
    Posts
    286

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    Chard - we picked him up last Friday, so will be a week tomorrow. They are normally in around 6 hours, but because we have been afraid of him hurting himself we have been leaving him in about 30 minutes 2x/day (long enough to thrash his feed onto the ground, basically but so we can work with him a little bit as well, leading him back out, putting the halter on and off, etc.) We have to herd him in through a chute, following the other horses in.

    He doesn't have a horse in the stall with him, but we have open airy stalls and he can see all of the horse in the stall next to him, touch noses with him, etc. We could potentially leave the stall door open and leave a small turnout area in the front of it...that would be do-able. I wish he would show some interest in feed. The thrashing is painful to watch, it's like complete panic. Good idea on the head bumper too....



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 13, 2009
    Posts
    665

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    I went through this once. I took on a 10 month old filly who had never even seen a halter, so you're actually a tiny bit ahead of me! We used a chute to get her in the trailer, and was able to get a halter on her in there. (I got kicked 3 times!) Got home and already had a "pen" set up for her, backed trailer in and just let her out. Pen was small, about 24' x 24' with an area under roof. I mean just a roof, no walls. She stayed there for a bit as I knew I couldn't catch her in a pasture and chasing her about or into a chute was just going to ad more stress. Each day, with tons of patience I was able to get close enough to her to shoot Ace into her mouth. Yep, she stayed Aced for almost a week! However, in that time I was able to touch her and put a lead on her and work with her in her tiny pen. Eating was a challenge too. I made sure she had water and a mineral block, and gave her some "crap" hay similar to what she was used to and adding it with my better stuff. I offered her feed, and that was just more patience. She figured it out on her own once she was more relaxed. In 2 weeks(including her week of Ace) she was out in the pasture with my VERY calm gelding, and eating well. I was able to catch her no problem as long as I left her halter on. By the end of about 10 weeks, you would have never know she didn't grow up here. No longer needed halter to be left on, could bathe her, trim her feet, she crosstied fine, all that sort of stuff. Never had any issues with her honestly. Took her to her WB inspection as a yearling, and she did just fine, well behaved. Stalled just a nice as any other horse too.

    My advice to you is patience and set him up for success! He isn't going to care much about food if he's that upset being stalled. Maybe just make him a small pen near his new "friends" until he settles more, try feeding him in there, does he even have to come into a stall right now? Do you have a buddy who can maybe live with him for a bit? Good luck!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 11, 1999
    Location
    Clayton, CA USA
    Posts
    4,994

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    Back when PMU foals were coming from Canada in the fall, I would bring one or two in. These foals had never been haltered except in a chute, which didn't give them fond memories of being handled. They hadn't been introduced to grain and had eaten only grass in fields. They were loaded with chutes or panels, and unloaded into pens the same way. I kept my foals in a round pen, which didn't make them feel trapped, but they couldn't get far away either. It usually took a couple of weeks before they would eat grain. Once they developed a fondness for it, it became much easier to get near them. I found that using something besides my hand to touch them worked better than my hands. I could usually get a halter on the foal within three weeks, and lead by six weeks. At that point they were out of quarantine, and could be turned out in a field, although sometimes I left a short catch rope on them. It takes lots of time and patience, but I got a lot of satisfaction out of working with them, and all of them, regardless of breed, came around. Personally, I would rather not try and isolate a young, frightened foal in a stall. I honestly don't think it will make the animal gentle any quicker, and you and/or the foal stand a reasonably good chance of injury struggling in a closed area.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2003
    Location
    Mayerthorpe, AB
    Posts
    2,015

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    Ditto Fordtractor, I would leave him out 24/7 until he has a chance to adjust to his new location (min a few weeks to a month), then I would slowly start introducing the stall. Find him a friend to keep nearby or if your stalls are really large and you can divide it in two somehow for another foal I would look at doing that. I don't agree with putting two horses in the same stall as even foals can be quite dominant and there is nowhere for the other one to go. But I would just let him settle in first, get his health up and then worry about teaching to stall. Also with better health/worming he may also pick up in appetite which will help you.
    Another thing I would do is when I do start to introduce him to stalling I would turn him out for 2-3hrs without food and have his food waiting his stall for him. Put him in to eat for an hour and turn him back out again. Hopefully if he has a purpose in there and equates it with a "good" thing he will settle down.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2008
    Posts
    1,777

    Default

    I had a mare, not feral but fairly untrustworthy-natured, and she wouldn't eat grain for about a month when I got her.

    I suspect a combination of stress from the move and that she either didn't recognize what was in the bucket as food or maybe just didn't feel well.

    I started leaving the grain with her and walking away, until I was totally out of sight. She'd eventually sniff at it. Finally I got the idea to bring my hoover over, her young pasturemate. He started drooling at the sight of the bucket and I held it while he stuck his head in. She watched him chew and swallow, then got pretty curious. I let her nibble at a handful, and then she registered that it was food. It took months before she'd eat in front of me.

    After that, any time I wanted to introduce a food product (treat or even wormer) I made sure to get her attention while I gave it to hoover first. She'd usually wander over to get hers.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2007
    Posts
    1,874

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    I had an 4yo gelding who has never been in a barn before. Getting him in the trailer was a trick but he hauled well. Then he unloaded ok but wouldn't load in the barn...having none of it. Very nice to handle out of the barn though. I just leave new horses alone for a week. Let them get used to feed and schedule and the waterers...make sure I have water in a tub instead of just the auto waterer. Then I bring the other horses in and let him come and go through a dutch door between stall and paddock...first feeding out side then feeding in the stall...all takes about a month. Then I worry about other handling. So slow things up...you are seeing weaning behavior...he lost his dam and all the babies...he has lost his wee mind for now. PatO



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep. 11, 2003
    Location
    Amish Country, PA
    Posts
    286

    Default

    Update: So last night we decided to try something different at feeding and fed him in the field with one of his friends, using a ground feeder. He looked curious, but no nibbles. He looks so horrible, I just want to fix him (like yesterday) but I can slow down a bit now that the PP is done and at least we got a week of GG in him. It just pi**** me off this lady has more on the way next year...sigh.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2006
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    3,373

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    I've had really good luck with Purina Equine Junior as a feed that entices even the pickiest, most out-of-his-little-mind-because-he-just-got-weaned-eater. If they don't eat it the first day (very rare) I leave it in a stall (in a bucket or tub that isn't deep, because they don't like to put their whole heads in a bucket), then I will cram some in their mouth with my hand. They usually suddenly realize that whatever that is tastes good, and within a couple minutes they are really excited about eating it on their own.

    Obviously the stalling for that isn't working out, but if you can take his friends away and leave him with only food in a paddock, maybe he will come around to it.

    The other option is to put him in a stall and walk away for a few hours and see if he can get control of his emotions on his own. It sounds like so far he hasn't really had the chance to do that.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Clinton, BC
    Posts
    1,376

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    Step # 1 is to get him eating. Do whatever you have to to accomplish that. Try different grains, sometimes straight oats will tempt one that does not know what any other type of grain is. Sometimes putting him with someone who will show him what to do with grain will help also. Probably leave him in a paddock rather than into and out of a stall, not much in the way of human contact until he gets his barings, becomes more comfortable with his new life. Monkey see, monkey doo with the eating thing.

    Once he has figured out about eating grain etc, you can start with aquainting him with a stall, and introduce yourself to him.

    Good luck. I've done plenty of PMU babies myself. Love them!



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