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Stall guards and behavior?

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  • Stall guards and behavior?

    I moved one of my older horses to stall board recently and everything was going well at first. Lately, however, he's started snarking at horses in the crossties in front of his stall. The stall door is an old, heavy, difficult to move wooden creation and the previous boarder had installed one of those really nice wire mesh half-doors inside it, so the horse could stick its head out and get a lot more ventilation. My horse loved it as long as there wasn't anybody in the aisle.

    So now, as the owner of a horse who's become snarky and has 6 stitches in his head as a result, I need to get rid of the wire stall guard and figure out another option. Closing the big heavy solid difficult-to-slide door is certainly the simplest choice. I could also bite the bullet and buy a full length wire grate that doesn't allow him to stick his head out but lets him get some air.

    My question really is: does anyone have any insight into WHY a perfectly nice horse gets snarky to certain horses outside his stall? is this a food-guarding behavior? he gets fed at the front of the stall next to the door - would putting his hay at the back of the stall make any difference? any other thoughts or suggestions? I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure that anyone using the crossties is safe there, so I need either a door-related solution or another solution that I can count on to solve the underlying problem. Moving the crossties is not an option. Moving the horse to a different stall away from the crossties might be an option but it might take some finagling, and the alternate stall has a dutch door to the outside, giving him all sorts of opportunities to snark at passersby. Rebuilding the heavy wooden door to include a screened "window" might cost me a couple of cases of good beer - but would my horse still feel threatened, if that's the problem, and snark anyway?

  • #2
    First thing that catches my attention is he now stalled. So before he was out either part of the time or 24/7. He used to burn off energy and play with other horses before, now he is penned up in a stall and finding new outlets for his energy/play. Easy answer is to make certain he has time outside. Along with additional handwalking, saddle time be included. These should resolve most of your problems.

    I have a rectangular metal stall guard for my gelding's stall. It allows for air flow and vision, but keeps his head in his stall, he is a mouthy sort. It is different from the metal guard on my mare's stall, it has the half-moon dip so she can hang her head out. Check with companies that supply track barns for ideas.

    Also consider toys, likits and Uncle Jimmy's balls to help keep him occupied.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim


    • Original Poster

      Sorry, I forgot to clarify: he's 24 and was on rough board for the past 12 years, but stabled at night for the first 12 years of his life. Currently he's out on 12 acres with about 10 other geldings from 6:30am til 3pm, and ridden 3 or 4 times/week. Busy boarding barn, lots of activity near his stall, free choice hay, boredom probably not his main issue. Pretty far down in the pecking order (bottom third?). Horses in adjacent stalls are in his turnout group. Horses in the aisle that provoke the behavior are not in his turnout group. Maybe that info will help.


      • #4
        My first thought would be to possibly add another wire mesh half door to the one already installed, thus giving you a 'full' door for possible less $.

        Or I could be totally wrong and you can ignore me
        Lucy (Precious Star) - 1994 TB mare; happily reunited with her colt Touch the Stars