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Is there hope for Pigaphobic mare?

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  • Is there hope for Pigaphobic mare?

    When I fed this am, my mare was cantering the perimeter of her 14X20' stall, with her blanket soaked through with foamy sweat. This was because a tiny teacup pig came to visit out farm and was ensconced on the other side if the five acres: out of sight, but I suspect not out of earshot.

    Adorable pig visited a few months ago for two days. My mare was transfixed, then horrified by the pig, who I showed to her in hand. She also observed the pig strolling around the farm while she was loose in the pasture with her minions. She became progressively more upset by "Truffles" and could NOT focus on anything else...staring in the general direction of pig at all times...eating two bites at a time punctuated by trotting...that sort of thing.

    After Tuffles went home she thought seriously about jumping over a Dutch door when I brought her over to the barn where Truffle had been and put her in a stall. It took two solid weeks before she was not borderline dangerous to tack up due to being so distracted... Once on her, I had some fabulous rides, since she felt like she was blown up like a parade float.

    Right now she is fairly calm only if outside where she see all around her, and will not go in the loafing shed. I am sure she would repeat the stall running if I put her in.

    The question:
    truffles may coming to live here. I really like her, and would love to have her here, but after this morning's state of affairs, and watching my mare wipe out in the mud yesterday while she was running hysterically because the pig was ON THE PROPERTY, I am having second thoughts. Has anyone successfully de-pigaphobed a horse? I am willing to give it some effort, but I cannot spend weeks on this. I would love to hear some suggestions!

    The other five horses range from "could care less if the pig is living next to my paddock", to "yikes! The lead mare is freaking out, so I should too". The mare in question is a VERY sensitive and reactive girl who is actually quite brave in most situations. But... once she goes over the edge, she "checks out", "washes out" , and I am concerned about injury.
    Last edited by arlosmine; Dec. 25, 2012, 02:35 PM.

  • #2
    My neighbor built a pig enclosure for her 4-H pigs just outside of my arena. I went to ride the day she got her pigs, and my horse was CRAZY. Literally. Broke his bridle breaking away from me trying to lead him towards the pigs to show him they weren't killers. It was bad, bad, bad. He eventually got more comfortable, but still spooky in that corner even after they left the property at the end of 4-H season.


    • #3
      Upham Woods 4-H Environmental Education Center

      Bears smell like pigs

      page 3



      • #4
        Yes, there is hope.

        Hattie got over her swineophobia. We moved to this barn a year and a half ago. Hattie's former owner said she had seen the pig before, and that she was fine with him. No way! We moved in heat of summer. Hattie was scared of pig. Pig wanted t o make friends. Hattie ran and ran for hours. Every time Cloudy tried to make friends with pig (he loves all animals and had had feral hogs run by him at another barn) Hattie would run to him and scream for him to run away with her.

        Pig started sleeping in front of her stall. Poor Hattie. Took a few weeks, but then she got where she didn't sweat and run every time pig walked up to her. And just snorted when pig complained when I moved him from in front of her stall.

        After a few months, pig could wander into her pasture, sleep in her hay in pasture, etc.

        Obviously moving to a new barn and meeting a full grown potbellied pig was hard for Hattie to handle.

        I suggest you expose your mare to the pig more often, and hopefully she will become blaise about the pig as Hattie became. Now when pig is in her hay in the pasture, she just eats around him.

        And Cloudy, well, he loves all animals. Unfortunately he is not afraid of wild hogs, gators, snakes, pit bulls lunging at him through a chain link fence, etc. Only thing I've every seen him (and my tb mare Callie) try to fight were the 2 bouviers at one barn who grew up to be attack dogs. And those dogs did look like bears. We've not met bears in the woods, just wild hogs, gators, lots of deer, foxes, snakes, and two raccoons who were fighting and rolling around our ring one time.


        • #5
          I can offer no suggestions other than I feel for you. I had a TB gelding once that was hysterically dangerous because of a pet pot belly pig that lived at a farm where I boarded. I didn't know they had a pig when I moved him there nor did I know how terrified he would have been since no previous pig encounters.

          His stall was in a shed row type barn directly across from the pig enclosure. After a month of taking my life into my own hands daily each. and. every. time I went to the barn, I decided it be best to find a new boarding facility. My horse never got used to seeing or smelling that pig and in a month's time, I never got close to getting on him.

          A year later I built a barn on my property and moved my horse home. Neighbors, who lived up the hill behind us, got 2 market pigs to raise and slaughter. They got loose and of course, ended up down in my horse's field and infiltrated the barn and his stall. He had a major melt down and almost ran through a four board fence and a pipe gate to get away from the pigs.

          I hope you find a solution. Personally, I will never mix pork and horse again!
          Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls


          • #6
            When I got my mare as an unstarted three year old and me as a sixty three year old I wanted her as spook proof as I could get her before I started saddle training. I set up anything and everything I could dream up that might spook her and taught her to touch it, good girl, here is a treat. She got really really good at it and thought anything scarey was a chance to get a cookie.

            We went to ride at a friends place and there was a grown potbelly pig. I had a heck of a time keeping her from touching the pig. She was pretty sure it was just something else I had set up and that she could earn a cookie by touching.

            You can't proof them against everything though. We have goats, she is used to goats but once on the trail we came up on a group of horses that were being followed by an old really raggedy sheep. That blew her mind! It was after the horses and probably going to EAT them. She was positive. Did a lovely canter in place while they passed by. I would have never dreamed that an old sheep would get to her.
            You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


            • #7
              My pigs have the run of the place. I never had any horses come in here that were scared of them. They love them. The pigs use the horses legs as scratching posts. We were at a show where there was a pot belly and a lot of horses freaked. Ours were like what's their problem?


              • #8
                We had a pet pig on the race track years ago. Gotten as a very sickly baby - she bonded with and identified with my 3 Boxers and was convinced "that" was what she was!! All of our race horses got used to her - a squealing fit would upset them, but she went stall to stall and cleaned up spilled grain and she could "muck" a stall of all poo in minutes. On the other hand...a boarding facility I used to ride through to get to a wildlife foundation was right across from a pig farm. You HAD to pass the pig pastures to get to the woods...Some horses NEVER got past the pigs to the trails!! It is the smell more than the sight...but then there is the mad squealing that will push any good horse over the edge!!! Good luck!!
                Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                • #9
                  My only question is THIS: How does a horse KNOW what a BEAR smells like?!?!


                  • #10
                    Interesting.. I wouldn't push it.

                    I had a "sensitive"gelding who made friends with a neighboring pig after some initial snorting etc.. however he may have done so because he had no equine companion at the time.

                    He grew up, fine with pigs and with cows (after I was asked to help move a dairy herd from one area to another and he learned that cows would actually run from him) but was terrified of poultry to the point of being butt against the fence and snorting when a wandering flock passed by.

                    He was the same when riding out. When we encountered wild or domestic fowl his brain went south. I had to dismount from a trembling unblinkinking pile of jello that would have run blindly though a fence at any moment.
                    I would not have chanced trying to get him over his terror. He was, as your's seems to be, likely to kill himself over the issue. Of course I had no desire to keep fowl...

                    I'd give up the pig until you have more time to work on the problem.


                    • #11
                      I think life is too short to subject your horse and yourself to that kind of danger if she came so unglued.


                      • #12
                        How much anxiety can a horse take before getting ulcerative?


                        • #13
                          I, for one, require pictures of Truffles b/f I can comment.


                          • #14
                            Gnalli from here on COTH will tell you that some just never ever adjust to Swine. Her racking pony came 100% totally unglued over a resident pig. No matter what they did or how they tried to densitize him to it, he'd totally freak... to the point where he was dangerous.
                            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                            • #15
                              What if you aced her for a few days and had the pig come visit?


                              • #16
                                I am in the "not worth the trauma" camp. I own a phobic horse. He has utter melt downs about cows, deer and goats--he is completely freaked out and dangerous when they are close (as in the other end of the 100 foot barn aisle for the goat, and any cow or deer that is within perhaps 200 yards). He has gotten a bit better about cows, but the goat that was rescued and spent a few days at the barn was pure hell for me and him. My boy's problem is that he has an elephantine memory of such events and will "look for" the creature seemingly forever. One corner of our previously blissfully spook-free outdoor is now "Goat Territory" and he spooks right every. single. time. we. go. by. Not fun.

                                If your mare is in this much of a swivet over the idea of the pig, why would you torture her by insisting on the thing living there?
                                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                • #17
                                  i had a very sensitive and phobic mare; had alot of success when including ace in our de-sensitive process.


                                  • #18
                                    Have you tried contacting a natural horsemanship trainer? They do some amazing things sometimes.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks to all of you! After two days, my mare and her "crew" are at least coming back into the loafing shed to eat...and I will try my mare in her stall tonight. Truffles is still on the other side of the property, and I am going to bring my mare over for an inspection tomorrow AFTER i ride her (we can bypass pig territory to get to the arena). I may try turning her out in a paddock next to the "I don't care about pigs" mare, within sight of Truffles, if she seems biddable when I have her in hand.

                                      I am willing to try to work this out for a little while, but if she just cannot wrap her head around pigness,we may be giving up on the new farm addition...


                                      • #20
                                        There are pretty easy and safe things to do to help your mare get used to Truffles.

                                        If the smell seems to upset her and she is super sensitive, put a hay bale in the vicinity of where Truffles lives for a day or two - then feed it out to your mare ( I would make it the best hay your mare ever dreamed of and give her a couple "bonus" flakes besides her normal ration, placed in a corner/spot near but not at her usual eating spot.) While she is working on getting used to that, I would get a bale or two to Truffles to "live with/in" - same procedure.

                                        Once smell is not an issue, put Truffles somewhere your horse can hear it but not see it, as far as possible from mare. Continue with scent de-sensitizing. Gradually move the pig closer OR start letting your mare see it - pig controlled (pen, stall, cage) , horse where she feels safe and is in a reasonably small/sturdy/supervised pen. Save the best feed/hay for when those encounters are set up.

                                        Over time (most likely if the sensitive horse is not overwhelmed) about 10-20 days, get her used to smelling/hearing/seeing the pig. Encourage curiosity from your horse towards the pig by placing food closer and closer to the pig (pig is controlled as above). Once your horse is willing to eat across a dutch door or a hanging bucket off/near one with grain mush, you should be ready to let pig wander the isle and your mare happily in her stall.

                                        Try to have treats handy and give her some when Truffles is in the vicinity. To the point that the sight of Truffles makes your mare think "cookie coming" and just about drooling.

                                        I hope it works out. Truffles sounds very cute! Pictures pls!!!

                                        Just cause I could not resist:

                                        " A little boy with a beast. What kind of beast, dear? A RHINO! " As per a 4.5yr old kid seeing the pic.
                                        Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                                        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.