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Brought horse home, he's panicking, I'm panicking.

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  • Brought horse home, he's panicking, I'm panicking.

    For those who don't know the saga of my youngest horse (TB): In September he put his hoof through wire fencing, effectively shaving the entire medial side off. This required strict stall rest until late March; the only time he left said stall was to go for surgery re-check appointments. During his stall rest, I had to move him to a new barn. In late March, he got the all clear from surgery & farrier to resume work on a longe line (for everyone's safety). Arena at new barn is horrible and the roundpen within (in which I was longing) floods for days after any rain, which made it hard to get him out. I was unable to turn him out at this barn either (various reasons). I was planning to bring him home before this whole hoof mess happened anyway, so I finally got everything done at home in preparation for his arrival, and brought him home yesterday so he can be turned out.

    Brought him home doped up on dormosedan, turned him out in a small paddock adjacent to my barn. He woke up from the dorm and there hasn't been any huge explosions. However, he is panicking.

    I get why he's panicking. New place, new friends, turned out for the first time since September, and the bugs are horrendous here.
    70% of the time he's alright, though clearly agitated by the bugs. The other 30% of the time he's pacing (at a trot/canter) along the back side of my barn. He's able to touch noses with my old Morgan over his stall wall, but said Morgan wants nothing to do with him and has been hanging out at the other end of his 15' long stall.
    My concern is the horse is "testing" the gate into the barn that is only ~3.5' tall. He keeps rearing at it and shoving his chest into it, apparently in an attempt to get in to my other two horses. I turned out my old Morgan and it calmed the TB, but then they started a "who's boss" war which I was not comfortable with, considering the TB is 3 hands taller and 21 years younger than my little old Morgan. I tried to put the horse in his stall, but he just panics in there, and I have concerns he'll cause some damage that I'll be unable to fix by myself in a timely fashion. Last night he pushed on the stall door enough to bend the latch hardware.

    I'm panicking that I did the wrong thing bringing him home. My mind tells me that he just needs time to settle in. But my awesome anxiety attack is causing me to panic that this was a bad idea. The kicker is that I'm by myself here; my husband lives 1200 miles away until July. I feel like I can't leave this property for fear the horse'll get hung up on something while I'm gone. But while I can probably get away with taking Monday off of work, I've got to go to work on Tuesday. Will someone tell me he'll be settled in by then? Or should I bring him back to his boarding stable and lock him in a stall until my husband comes down here?

  • #2
    Sorry to hear of your troubles. Many TBs are not fans of bugs! My old bombproof TB would act out "hi ho silver" at mosquitoes.
    Drugs can be your friend! Talk to your veterinarian and see if a plan can be made to keep your horse settled. And keep him away from bugs!
    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.


    • #3
      Oh, man. As a lone crone with 3 horses at home, I can totally sympathize.

      It might take longer than a few days for the TB to acclimate to the new herd. My last new horse introduction took a couple of months. If you don't have the infrastructure to safely contain him during his freakout/get-acquainted phase, I'd consider returning him to safety until you can make the necessary adjustments. Ideally, as I'm sure you're aware, he'd start out in a separate paddock with proximity to the other horses, but not with a common fence.
      Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


      • Original Poster

        Unfortunately drugs are not an option. We tried reserpine early on, which resulted in a liver reaction. His LAM vets said no more long-term tranqs.

        Originally posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
        It might take longer than a few days for the TB to acclimate to the new herd. My last new horse introduction took a couple of months. If you don't have the infrastructure to safely contain him during his freakout/get-acquainted phase, I'd consider returning him to safety until you can make the necessary adjustments. Ideally, as I'm sure you're aware, he'd start out in a separate paddock with proximity to the other horses, but not with a common fence.
        So really, what is the appropriate infrastructure? I've got Ramm perimeter fencing, normal sized gates (the other gates aren't much taller than the one to the barn), hot tape for internal fencing, hot tape along the perimeter Ramm fencing. I'm most concerned with the horse putting his legs through the gate, which he can do to any gate or fence. His stall is a stall; it's not some fancy wood/metal pre-fab stall, but it's solid wood that's 6' tall. His previous "safe" stall was 100% concrete cinder blocks, which is not feasible for me to build. This is my main concern; if I need more to "safely" keep him in, then he will never come home because I feel I simply can't do any more.

        And returning him to "safety" means the strict confines of a stall, with no option for turnout. Is that the better option here? The only other barn where I could take him (and where my farrier can still shoe him, which is critical and non-negotiable) is full.


        • #5
          Please don't panic.

          I'm thinking that this is like when I brought the old guy home. He's too old to chest a gate thank God, but he can worry up a storm. We Aced him, brought him home and threw him in with the pony and a couple BIG piles of hay. Didn't actually throw him in and walk away, we brought him in and walked him around the fenceline, gave him lots of treats, gave the pony lots of treats. Pony did try to push him around some but we kinda hung around till the Ace wore off and at dinner we let them sort it out, we figured out that pony needed to be tied or otherwise kept away from the old guy, and then a month later we set up some corral panels to make two adjacent 16 x 16 "stalls" that the old guy was OK with - he could see his pony at all times and was right next to him but could eat unmolested.

          We did have to replace the common panel with a plywood plated panel, the pony climbed on the bars and demolished the old one. The new panel is pretty horse safe unless somebody rears up four and a half feet.

          If you had routines at the boarding barn by all means follow them at home, anything to make the place feel like it isn't so different and frightening. And good luck, when we took the old guy back to his original barn for this winter he cried and paced and fretted and he got run around the one pasture by the school horses, it was pretty scary, finally he wound up with a Shetland that he could boss around and they were both happy. We brought both of them home and they are far less herdbound to each other, it's nice.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            Welll, not knowing your set up, I'd likely start with making the 3.5 gate higher and applying plywood if he's getting legs through. Then I'd look at how to make an in/out situation for the horse since he has separate turnout so he can get in out of the flies. Just get a carpenter out and do what you need to do to make him as comfortable as possible .

            Also, if possible, I'd cut the grain way back just for a week or two. He's likely running off the calories anyway. Handful of grain and unlimited hay unless he's a very hard keeper although even then, I might do it for a week .

            It's a better option than boarding, by the sounds of it. Then when things are as safe as reasonably possible, wait. It may take a couple weeks for him to settle.


            • #7
              Can you get a fly sheet on him? If he will tolerate the full getup I would get a fly mask, fly sheet with a neck and belly piece, and fly boots. Douse him in fly spray. Obviously his anxiety runs deeper than just the bugs but the bugs are one thing you can control. You can also hang fly traps every 5 feet along the perimeter of his fence. Knock out every one of those bugs that you can.

              How is his groundwork? When my mare is wigged out at a new place I find that going a little NH works well for her. There is no need to have him cantering around you or backing up for 30 feet but a little mind/hoof engagement might do him a world of good. If he isn't the type to respond well to that do you think he is safe enough to go for a walk around the property with a stud chain? If getting him out of the paddock isn't an option even a little clicker training with a cone and some extra good treats might help him get out of his anxious state.


              • #8
                I agree about the reduced grain - keep him in hay.

                Ideally, I would put him in a turnout where he can walk into his stall to get out of the flies. If you keep the barn very clean, it will be fly free. You might even want to put the horses in during the day, if all of them are in, how is he for being in his stall? Something to think about.

                Then, I would make his turn out safer - get the carpenter out and make the gate safe, and tall.

                Consider a small friend - pony or donkey to live with him (outside).

                I know my horse appreciated me spending time with him - on a long line eating grass in a far pasture, on the lawn, feeding him carroths.

                He'll probably settle down when he sees there is a routine to the day.

                My suggestions might not really address what's going on with you and your horse, I can sympathize when they get worried and their behaviour is troublesome.

                With my horse, he can be worrisome like that if he isn't in work. If your horse can start work, I would really up his work. You could do alot of in hand lateral work at the walk even if you aren't riding him. On the longe line, trot trot trot until he finds that rhythm of his own - there's a rhythm he has where he can trot forever. You can defintely get him tired trotting.

                A tired horse is a good horse. It can make a LOAD of difference, specially if you cut back on the grain at this time.

                My trainer will use Calm and Cool for situations like this - I don't, I haven't, and I don't know about how people feel about C&C, but it works for her to take the edge off a horse with reduced work and increased level of ideas for fun and frolic.
                My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


                • #9
                  I'd put electric around that whole paddock including across the top of the gate (way above it) The style of electric fence gate I like is a big coil spring It's very visible and it's easy to use without it drooping/endangering/snapping on the ground.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I've left the horse out all day and just checked on him periodically, because nothing was going to happen today in terms of fixing anything. When I was out mowing (back fields, around his paddock) or out doing other work in the yard/fields he was a lot more anxious. I'd assume it was my nerves, but I wasn't anywhere near him. Now that I'm in the house, I just poke my head out the front door periodically to make sure he's not gushing blood and he's (so far) just been hanging out in the shade, back leg(s) cocked.

                    I've thought about putting him in his stall and seeing how that goes, but I wanted to give the turnout a fair shake first. The poor guy has been locked in a stall since September. I'm not anxious to put him back in. And I don't have a way of allowing him in/out access without giving him free rein of the entire barn, which is a no go.

                    A mini donkey is solidly on the list of things to get (despite my husband's protests), and my farrier is looking for me. As soon as he finds a suitable one, it'll be a new friend.

                    I do want to get him back in work, but now I don't have any sort of arena to work him in. I plan to use one of my back pastures, but I'm a little nervous about separating the horse from his "buddies". They seem to have taken on the role of security blanket for him.

                    It occurred to me today to put electric up over that gate. I have extra hot tape that'll work just fine. Now I just need to get to TSC to get one of those gate-hook thingies so I can undo the hotwire to walk through.


                    • #11
                      If you have to go to TSC to get the handle- go ahead and spring for the spring (the handle is integral) You will love it because you can leave it dangling while you operate the gate proper- you don't have to try to get the tape out of the way or worry about holding two things and a horse.

                      When my husband brought one home I thought it looked like a crazy idea- but now I HATE my one remaining un-spring gate.



                      • #12
                        If he's never seen/ smelled/ heard a donkey before, do be aware that some horses find them horrifying. For some reason the smaller ones are even worse than the normal- sized ones.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
                          If he's never seen/ smelled/ heard a donkey before, do be aware that some horses find them horrifying. For some reason the smaller ones are even worse than the normal- sized ones.
                          Omigod, this is so true. I found this out when I was riding my big old deadhead QH gelding past the pasture where the new mini-donk had just been installed, and holy bajoly, he was apoplectic. Like, shaking with fear. I never recovered from the shock.
                          Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
                            If he's never seen/ smelled/ heard a donkey before, do be aware that some horses find them horrifying. For some reason the smaller ones are even worse than the normal- sized ones.
                            Yes, this I am well aware of. Thankfully I know my two Morgans would at least be ok, preventing a mad herd stampede, as they recently encountered a (full-sized) one at a breed show. Though when that thing brayed, they both gave him a WTH? look. Not sure how the TB would react; I could see him going either way. The only way to find out is to get one as a trial, I suppose.


                            • #15
                              I just wanted to say sorry you are going through this, and I understand being in a state of panic. I am uptight anyways so the last time we had a flood I admit I had my self in such a panic I ended up sick. (flood evac for farm animals not fun)So please take care of yourself and I hope your guy settles in quickly. Mabey its just sensory overload for him. If he hes been on stall rest for some time, plus a new place, perhaps just a little meltdown for him and he will feel better. As others said cut the grain till he chills.
                              Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                                Yes, this I am well aware of. Thankfully I know my two Morgans would at least be ok, preventing a mad herd stampede, as they recently encountered a (full-sized) one at a breed show. Though when that thing brayed, they both gave him a WTH? look. Not sure how the TB would react; I could see him going either way. The only way to find out is to get one as a trial, I suppose.
                                I have a small driving pony. At one of the first events of the season he became enamoured with a little mule who is about his size. Then he met the donkeys and thought they were wonderful. His mini pony friend accepted the donkeys because he did and happily stood next to them in the line up for a prize giving recently. After about 10 minutes of standing next to the donkeys, she finally paid attention to the donkeys, rather than my pony. The expression on her face was priceless: "Hang on? WTF? You're not ponies!!!! I thought you were ponies. Oh heck, whatta I do now? Oh, its fine. Cool I'll just stand here." Friend, donkey driver and I were all killing ourselves laughing at her reaction. I'm sure the spectators were wondering what was so funny down our end of the line.


                                • #17
                                  Was he on stall rest until he came home? It sounds as you he was just thrown outside at your place? Can you keep him in a stall and wean him back onto turnout?
                                  Maybe invest in a fly sheet, good fly spray, and a nibble net?


                                  • #18
                                    Partial thought there, sorry
                                    if he became accustomed and comfortable in a stall, he likely is worried about being out. I would bring him out and turn him out a few times a day until he acclimates.


                                    • #19
                                      Agree w/ the fly sheet & any way to avoid the bugs. My OTTB hates them, and many TBs are just really very skin sensitive. His feet chipped like crazy last summer as he stomped away. Didn't have my act together, but now have a fly sheet.

                                      Can you do any nighttime turnout, to avoid the flies? Know it would also be hard on you and your schedule at first, but you could try it a bit at a time.

                                      Mine's been in 3 barns since I've had him back to me. 1st wasn't turned out sufficiently so found a nice looking place w/ 24/7 turnout. That relieved a lot of his attitude, but added a new dimension - herd behavior - he was worried when first turned out, then always worried when not right with them.

                                      Now back at a professional barn w/ lots of turnout, but lots of stall rest as well. A good routine, and lots of horses around. So routine is great, too. At the track they really had one, and don't know what to do with making decisions themselves about how to keep occupied.

                                      Another suggestion is a Nibble Net. Mine is needing weight and gets free hay. BO gone this weekend, and the hay left on the floor of his stall was mushed around with the shavings while he was working on stall chewing. If it's in the NibbleNet, he is at it all the time trying to work it out, and leaving his stall alone.

                                      Really feel for you! Know what it's like to not have things settled. Good luck!
                                      But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson


                                      • #20
                                        If you can't bring him in during the daytime, can you get a run in she'd that will keep the bugs away? My horses would go crazy too if they were out with the bugs and sun in the daytime.