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Horse anticipates turnout

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  • Horse anticipates turnout

    hi all,
    New boarder came in a few weeks ago and I need advice from a management perspective. He has settled in well except he anticipates turnout like crazy. I usually feed grain at 6am with a flake of hay and turn out at 7. I’ve done this so that everyone has enough time to finish eating. The new horse won’t finish his grain and will stall walk until he is turned out. We had some bad weather last week where I left them in for the day. Everyone was bedded deep with fresh haynets in the AM. He did nothing but walk in circles trashing his stall and making a trench in 8-10 inches of shavings. Didn’t eat. He would walk a circle stick his head out the door, slowly walk another circle etc. he does this for the hour between breakfast and turnout as well. His owner wants me to leave him in for three-four days tied so he stops anticipating the schedule. Do you guys have any other suggestions?

    ETA: he has been on sucralfate and gastrogard since he came here.
    Its before my coffee so please excuse typos and sentences that make no sense.

  • #2
    If he was mine I definitely wouldn't be leaving him tied up in his stable for four days. I would pop his feed bucket in his paddock at 6am and turn him out to eat it straight away. If he can cope with having no company for an hour that might be the least stressful solution all round.

    Comment


    • #3
      I was going to say the same thing. Try feeding him out there.
      It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

      Comment


      • #4
        He's not "anticipating the schedule". He doesn't like being stalled, period. He's telling you this pretty clearly.

        Stall walking is a behavior that's part of a group called "stereotypies". They are things the horse does that act to try and relieve an internal stress that he feels that he can't otherwise get rid of. This horse is trying to express that he does not feel safe and content being stalled. Lots of horses don't. They aren't meant to live in stalls. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't get them to where they feel comfortable doing so, but it does mean that if one doesn't, tying him up will do nothing as it does not further educate him or help make him more comfortable with the idea of confinement.

        As the barn manager, you probably don't have a lot of say in helping this horse get to feeling better about being confined, which is unfortunate because that's the real, long term solution. So in your case, I'd say the best option for this horse would be to either offer the owner a 24/7 turnout option, if you can, or arrange for him to be fed outside in the morning.
        Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't get the impression he just hates his stall. GPjumper, what does his stall look like when you arrive at 6am?

          I agree with the idea of just putting him out at 6 and seeing what happens. If he's unhappy by himself, then if he's got a friend already, maybe they can both go out together?

          If it were your horse it would be worth working through alternatives to try to help him deal, but something like this is not likely worth it for a boarded horse.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I can arrange to feed him outside. That was my suggestion. This horse is perfectly fine over night and perfectly fine with only going out for 1/2 the day. He only starts walking for AM turnout. His owner in concerned this will “spoil him” and he won’t be able to cope when he goes to shows. I’m not set up for rough boarding so the horse would have to leave.

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            • #7
              Well, he's clearly not settling in how things are now, and it's unfair to him to let him stress like that every day. A lot of horses behave very differently at shows because there is no routine and the whole environment is different.

              If the owner is that concerned, they need to help work on his issues, that's certainly not your job.

              I wonder what would happen if you brought him back in right after eating breakfast, and then turned him out with the rest like normal? Is there somewhere right at the barn he can be "turned out" and tied to eat breakfast? Just trying to think of some alternative ideas that make your work a little less time-consuming.
              ______________________________
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by JB View Post
                Well, he's clearly not settling in how things are now, and it's unfair to him to let him stress like that every day. A lot of horses behave very differently at shows because there is no routine and the whole environment is different.

                If the owner is that concerned, they need to help work on his issues, that's certainly not your job.

                I wonder what would happen if you brought him back in right after eating breakfast, and then turned him out with the rest like normal? Is there somewhere right at the barn he can be "turned out" and tied to eat breakfast? Just trying to think of some alternative ideas that make your work a little less time-consuming.
                That is exactly what I was thinking of doing. I have “medical paddocks” that are approx 16x25 for the lay ups. I’m tempted to feed him in one and then turn out and normal once the others have finished. I don’t mind doing it at all as I’m down there anyway between feeding and turn out. My only concern is what will happen on days when I’m not turning out due to weather. On those few days, I could feed him outside and leave him out while I clean the barn and bring him in after he’s finished. I feel terrible for this horse because he stares at me over the stall door like, “can we go out yet?” Once he goes out, he paces around the paddock for 20-30 minutes before settling in to graze. I have to wonder if he’s getting stiff and would benefit from some magnesium overnight.

                His owner is on the QH circuit so he’s used to tying. I would like to avoid stressing the horse out over nothing of at all possible.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kaspercat View Post
                  If he was mine I definitely wouldn't be leaving him tied up in his stable for four days. I would pop his feed bucket in his paddock at 6am and turn him out to eat it straight away. If he can cope with having no company for an hour that might be the least stressful solution all round.
                  this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd tie him in the stall where he can reach his feed. That would stop the stall walking (which turns into a habitual thing where once they start they need a manual stop), and hepefully he would settle and eat.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hold up -- you bed 8-10 inches?

                      Wowza.

                      That must be a royal PITA to clean!

                      I would not be tying a stall-walking horse in the area he's stall-walking (IE in his stall), but I think tying somewhere outside is fine. I'll explain why below. But I sympathize with you, because I've worked in barns with stall-walkers and owners have not been very cooperative with suggestions I've made to help improve their horse's wellbeing (such as, IDK, maybe don't keep them in a stall for 16 hours!). Those boarders were asked to leave.

                      If I have a stall-walker they go outside, and only come in for breakfast/dinner, if at all. And I have horses that live out 24/7, that then go to multiple day shows and they are fine in a stall. I think your boarder is not very horse savvy.

                      It's pretty clear to me, a horse stall-walking is doing so because they are stressed and unhappy. A few weeks is not that long for a horse to settle, but, if it were me, I'd be keeping him outside from now on. Depending on how his schedule was before the move, he may still be unsure of the new routine.

                      Stopping the behavior (such as tying the horse) doesn't make the stressors go away. The behavior (stall-walking) is a symptom. It's my experience if you try to curb them from expressing the stereotypy, it makes things worse - they'll start chewing while tied, or kicking, or pawing. And I don't necessarily think those vices mentioned are training problems - to me they seem to be a horse clearly communicating they are unhappy.

                      Trying to fix that, is how you solve the stereotypy. Not preventing the stereotypy from being expressed.

                      IME stall-walking falls into two categories:
                      horse not feeling their turnout needs are met
                      horse not feeling their herd needs are met

                      I also have seen a high correlation between stall-walkers, and horses with ulcers. I think both of those (stall-walking, ulcers) are symptoms of a management problem, personally.
                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                        Hold up -- you bed 8-10 inches?

                        Wowza.

                        That must be a royal PITA to clean!

                        I would not be tying a stall-walking horse in the area he's stall-walking (IE in his stall), but I think tying somewhere outside is fine. I'll explain why below. But I sympathize with you, because I've worked in barns with stall-walkers and owners have not been very cooperative with suggestions I've made to help improve their horse's wellbeing (such as, IDK, maybe don't keep them in a stall for 16 hours!). Those boarders were asked to leave.

                        If I have a stall-walker they go outside, and only come in for breakfast/dinner, if at all. And I have horses that live out 24/7, that then go to multiple day shows and they are fine in a stall. I think your boarder is not very horse savvy.

                        It's pretty clear to me, a horse stall-walking is doing so because they are stressed and unhappy. A few weeks is not that long for a horse to settle, but, if it were me, I'd be keeping him outside from now on. Depending on how his schedule was before the move, he may still be unsure of the new routine.

                        Stopping the behavior (such as tying the horse) doesn't make the stressors go away. The behavior (stall-walking) is a symptom. It's my experience if you try to curb them from expressing the stereotypy, it makes things worse - they'll start chewing while tied, or kicking, or pawing. And I don't necessarily think those vices mentioned are training problems - to me they seem to be a horse clearly communicating they are unhappy.

                        Trying to fix that, is how you solve the stereotypy. Not preventing the stereotypy from being expressed.

                        IME stall-walking falls into two categories:
                        horse not feeling their turnout needs are met
                        horse not feeling their herd needs are met

                        I also have seen a high correlation between stall-walkers, and horses with ulcers. I think both of those (stall-walking, ulcers) are symptoms of a management problem, personally.
                        They only get 8-10 inches when we are going to get a storm and they won’t be getting turned out. Regular bedding is about 6 inches. My stalls are mats over a concrete slab. My true stall walkers greatly decreased their walking once I made the bedding deeper. The barn also only has 3/4 walls with no bars so they scratch and sniff each other over the walls. It’s been a huge help. (I mostly do layups/rehabs so this really makes a huge difference for those stuck in stall rest. It’s weird. Overnight he is fine. He ONLY walks around turnout time and if he doesn’t get to go out on his schedule. (For example, if his owner asks me to leave him in because he is going to trailer out or come ride early) He is turned out from 7am until 430 PM on about 5 acres with his stall neighbor.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When he is out is he with the horse(s) he is also stalled next to? Maybe he feels somehow threatened by one of his stall neighbors or wants to be closer to his buddy. Is it possible to rearrange stall assignments and see if that helps. I've seen this work in some cases. Also, putting him in a quieter/less active area of the aisle if he needs it more chill or maybe a more active one so he has stuff to observe. He may be bored and need his mind occupied more.

                          And some just need to move. Period.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            We’ve tried a bunch of things with him already: he has a ton of toys, likit holders etc. his mind gets focused on turnout and he just walks. When they stayed in last week for a storm, he was fine the first night, but after turnout time came and went with no turnout (because it was freezing rain/sleet/snow) he walked most of the day. By the afternoon, when he realized he wasn’t going out, he finally settled into eating hay and was fine until the next morning when it was time to go out. Then he barely finished breakfast before starting to walk.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This horse is lucky to have landed in your barn where you are making him matter. I agree with the ideas other have offered about using those medical paddocks or turnout areas to feed him.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by GPjumper View Post

                                They only get 8-10 inches when we are going to get a storm and they won’t be getting turned out. Regular bedding is about 6 inches. My stalls are mats over a concrete slab. My true stall walkers greatly decreased their walking once I made the bedding deeper. The barn also only has 3/4 walls with no bars so they scratch and sniff each other over the walls. It’s been a huge help. (I mostly do layups/rehabs so this really makes a huge difference for those stuck in stall rest. It’s weird. Overnight he is fine. He ONLY walks around turnout time and if he doesn’t get to go out on his schedule. (For example, if his owner asks me to leave him in because he is going to trailer out or come ride early) He is turned out from 7am until 430 PM on about 5 acres with his stall neighbor.
                                The being fine overnight and then not in the morning isn't necessarily surprising to me and I wouldn't say because he is fine when he is first brought in that everything is okay.

                                Think of it this way - when you are fresh from doing something you enjoy, you probably can tolerate things that make you unhappy a little more gracefully.. but when you are at the end of your rope .... it gets that much harder to deal.

                                I don't think horses are any different in that regard, and while stalling is convenient for us, it sure isn't healthy or convenient for horses. So at the end of a ~12 hour shift in a stall, I understand why horses get a little antsy. Unfortunately, it's the industry standard and also, the reality, for most horses in the world.

                                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  It sounds like a very strong stereotypic behavior. Who knows what he has experienced that caused it? I think your plan to feed in the paddock is a good one. It's nice of you to adjust your routine for the one weirdo, lol!.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It's not practical for a boarding barn to make special accomodations for a horse like that. Or appropriate to just assume the OP will change her entire routine. He will get used to the system or the owner can find a barn that will accomodate her horse. I would bed him lighter and tie him in the morning for a few days to see if it helps.
                                    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'd put him on 24/7 turnout
                                      Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                                        It sounds like a very strong stereotypic behavior. Who knows what he has experienced that caused it? I think your plan to feed in the paddock is a good one. It's nice of you to adjust your routine for the one weirdo, lol!.
                                        Before he came to me, he wasn’t turned out at all. Their outside time was tied to a patience post for several hours, then brought in and worked. His owner brought him to me since I have paddocks of varying sizes for lay ups etc. over the past 3 months, he’s learned how to be outside and loves his buddy. He still isn’t always a fan of being out. For example, he won’t pee outside if it’s below 40. At about 10 he starts hanging by the gate wanting to come in. (No I don’t bring him in to pee, but I discovered this one day when he was trying to train me) it’s only in the past month that the anxiety to get outside quickly started.

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