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Horse anticipates turnout

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  • #21
    This is a very difficult behavior to solve. I have one that paces. His behavior is anxiety related. He gets anxious and can't stand still. It doesn't matter what environment he is in. For example, if the neighbors are shooting, he gets anxious and runs in the pasture. Almost every day, something will make him anxious and he will pace along the fence line. If he's in a stall, he circles and circles. If I take him camping, he runs the weight off, as he paces a trench in the ground. He takes a bite of food, paces, grabs a bite, paces, etc.

    ​​​​24/7 turnout doesn't help, he just paces in the pasture. He hates bugs so that doesn't help. He does best with turnout and a run in shelter. I don't put him with my other horses because then he chases them when he gets anxious. I wish I had a bossy horse that could teach him some better manners. It is annoying, but I just ignore the behavior as much as possible.

    I think if he was placed in hard work daily, he wouldn't want to pace so much. He has tremendous energy levels and that energy has to go somewhere. Most of the time, he just walks the fence. The behavior has gotten better over time. Now he only does it if something triggers him- unusually cold weather, a storm coming, neighbors running their 4 wheeler, gun shots, bad bugs, etc.

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    • #22
      Just to clarify, the owner wants you to not turn him out AT ALL for 3-4 days *and* tie him in his stall the entire time? Or only at/during turnout time?

      Either way, that's a no for me. If the owner is legitimately requesting you tie her horse up for 3+ days straight, I would strongly consider whether this person's horsemanship meets your standards.

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      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
        Just to clarify, the owner wants you to not turn him out AT ALL for 3-4 days *and* tie him in his stall the entire time? Or only at/during turnout time?

        Either way, that's a no for me. If the owner is legitimately requesting you tie her horse up for 3+ days straight, I would strongly consider whether this person's horsemanship meets your standards.
        He wanted him tied in the stall while the others are out near his hay and water. He would be able to eat and drink but not walk. He would be thrown out of my barn if he wanted the horse tied for days with no access to hay or water. That’s a hard line in the sand for me.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by SLW View Post
          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.
          I don't have anything to add except to reiterate the above!

          Comment


          • #25
            There is quite a bit of anthropomorphism here. Many of the suggestions above assume the horse can analyze his situation and transfer an acceptable behavior to his stall which will end the stall-walking. There are lots of things we can teach horses and they can transfer some behaviors to other situations. Tying him to a post outside so he will learn to stand quietly teaches him to stand quietly when he is tied to a post. (Let's leave out the discussion about when it becomes abusive.) How does he figure out that you want him to transfer that particular behavior - standing quietly whether or not he is tied to a post - to his stall and end the stall-walking behavior?

            Stereotypies are repetitive but don't have a purpose and the cause is unknown. They aren't learned because the behavior isn't reinforced;; cribbing, stall weaving, head tossing and human thumb-sucking are examples. They can't be "unlearned" but changing the environment or management routines might cut down on the behavior. Making the environment safer, such as the surface they crib on, might lessen physical harm..

            There are repetitive behaviors that aren't stereotypies. They are learned. A horse stands there kicking the stall door and attracts attention because people shout at him or walk over to his stall.. He can be retrained by ignoring him but everyone has to be consistent for as long as it takes. I've seen it work with a friend's horse.

            OP's boarder's horse is constantly sending messages that something is bothering him and he's not going to change on his own. You have to untangle his behaviors and identify them. Then you can design training routines and make appropriate changes in his environment. The problem the BO has is whether she can fit him and his owner into the barn routine, recognizing that it's going to take time and energy to retrain both of them. It sounds to me that he wants to be outside. I would try that first to see if he settles down. A feeding schedule that includes free choice hay might help..

            "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019

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            • #26
              Another question - is he hobble broke?

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                Another question - is he hobble broke?
                I have no idea. To be honest, I’ve never used them and wouldn’t feel comfortable using them.

                Comment


                • #28
                  I don't understand the 'patience post' thing. Was he supervised? I can't think of any practical lesson that would teach a horse. These are not independent creatures. Staying close by while a horse is tied to teach him to stand quietly makes sense, but leaving them unsupervised is going to make a wreck out of herd animal. Is he neurotically herdbound? Perhaps that's what led to his behavior?

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                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                    I don't understand the 'patience post' thing. Was he supervised? I can't think of any practical lesson that would teach a horse. These are not independent creatures. Staying close by while a horse is tied to teach him to stand quietly makes sense, but leaving them unsupervised is going to make a wreck out of herd animal. Is he neurotically herdbound? Perhaps that's what led to his behavior?
                    I can’t answer you about a patience post. From his description it was a tie post (they could walk in circles around) in a round pen. I guess the horses just learned to quietly stand tied? He’s not herd bound at all. There is a 1/2 wall between him and his buddy’s stall so they can interact. No bars on the top half so they will play/scratch each other over the wall.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                      I don't understand the 'patience post' thing. Was he supervised? I can't think of any practical lesson that would teach a horse. These are not independent creatures. Staying close by while a horse is tied to teach him to stand quietly makes sense, but leaving them unsupervised is going to make a wreck out of herd animal. Is he neurotically herdbound? Perhaps that's what led to his behavior?
                      All the good horse starters I know use patience posts or a big tree to teach tying, patience, and waiting. With proper preparation (a trainer I know first ties horses in a solid, small stall, where they can't get enough running speed up to pull back or flip over)the horse is tied to a patience post and left on his own, without other horses next to him, or a human standing by to offer comfort. He learns to stand tied, patiently, until someone comes to get him.

                      I don't think this would solve this horse's particular anxiety about turnout.
                      http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by GPjumper View Post

                        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.
                        This is a very practical solution and really nice option for this horse and owner. I'd go with this if it's not really inconvenient. I would think it might be easier than cleaning the trashed stall, so I would probably try it.

                        It's also possible the horse will settle in. How long has he been with you?

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by GPjumper View Post

                          I have no idea. To be honest, I’ve never used them and wouldn’t feel comfortable using them.
                          Fair enough. They may help though, as he couldn't get up enough "steam" without significant effort and would quickly figure out it isn't worth it (in a perfect world).

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                            I don't understand the 'patience post' thing. Was he supervised? I can't think of any practical lesson that would teach a horse. These are not independent creatures. Staying close by while a horse is tied to teach him to stand quietly makes sense, but leaving them unsupervised is going to make a wreck out of herd animal. Is he neurotically herdbound? Perhaps that's what led to his behavior?
                            As explained to me by a western trainer that I respect: Say a trainer has 8 horses in his barn for training but he can only ride one at a time in a day. The horse's commodity with us "time", you control the horse's time then you are controlling the horse, the horse trades it's meals for giving up it's "time". After feeding each horse is tied throughout the barn based on it's tying experience- maybe in a stall, a patience pole, outside the barn and so on. A few are standing with saddles on waiting to be ridden. So while the trainer is on the back of only one horse, all the others are working, they are tied. Once the horse is ridden and groomed it's tied up somewhere and the next horse gets the ride and so on. And yes, hay and water is provided throughout the day to the horses in training.

                            A correctly used patience pole/tie training has done a world of good for horses. The first thing I train my driving equines to do is "whoa" and "wait", tie training assist in the latter.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                              Fair enough. They may help though, as he couldn't get up enough "steam" without significant effort and would quickly figure out it isn't worth it (in a perfect world).
                              He doesn’t really speed walk. He just kind of wanders slowly, sticks his head out the stall, wanders again. He’s not frantic, just impatient.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                You could try tying him in front of his feed for a few mornings during that hour. I have a horse that would stall walk when stressed out by a change in schedule. He would also pace if you were late to bring him inside for dinner. Over the years he has learned to be more flexible in his schedule without worrying, but in the short term tying him allowed him to relax and eat hay rather than pace.

                                Since he is used to tying and it is only the hour between feeding and turnout I would give it a try and see if he chills out and then wean him off the tying routine.

                                ETA: this horse would be frantically stall walking and then go into complete relaxation immediately upon tying, he didn’t fight it out or have to learn to relax while tied. Tying served as a pacifier for him.


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                                • #36
                                  I know this may not be practical in a full commercial barn, but what does horse do if he doesn't see you or any other human?

                                  Oftentimes these types --when they're not actively training a human to do what THEY want-- will settle and just chill if they cannot see a human/ caregiver to persuade to do their bidding.

                                  Can you move him to a stall or wing where he's not aware of people coming and going, in the hopes he'll just settle until someone comes along to take him out?

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Okay. Thank you for explaining the patience pole. I can see how, used properly, it would help a horse settle. I can also see how, used improperly, it could cause issues. Hmm.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      No one is in the barn. I usually dump grain and go back to the house for an hour while they eat. He starts anticipating as soon as he is almost finished. He will walk, not frantically, until you turn him out or at around 230PM (if they have to stay inside for bad weather.) once outside, he paces a bit around the field until he settles into grazing around his buddy.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        I tried feeding him in the medical paddock This AM. It didn’t work. Not only did it upset the others terribly, (to the point where they didn’t want to eat) but it didn’t help him at all. Instead of walking after finishing most of breakfast, he didn’t eat at all and just walked the paddock even worse. At this point, the walking is more frantic outside so I’m stuck leaving him in to eat.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Since the horse is used to being tied I would give that a try. Put his hay in a net so he can reach both and see if it helps. Most western horses are used to being tied for a while and it is a great thing since they usually just take it as a quiet time and relax. Very helpful at shows where they can spend time tied to a trailer during the day waiting for their time to go.
                                          ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~

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