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Dangerous Herdbound Behavior

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  • Dangerous Herdbound Behavior

    I know there are a lot of threads about this, so thanks for allowing one more

    I have a 10 yo OTTB who I've owned for 4 years. For the first year, year and a half, we had no issues. For some reason, he became herdbound. We didn't change barns or routines, nothing traumatic happened to him so I'm not sure of the "trigger". What I do know is that now he is king of his all gelding herd.

    When all horses are in their stalls for the night, he's a perfect angel. Easy to ride and we can leave the property without much drama, though because of the barns location we can't go too far. Anyway, the problem is when horses are outside and he needs to come in. He completely tunes out everything but getting back outside. He crow hops on the cross ties, screams, head in the air, prances, etc. Getting on to ride is possible, but he pays no real attention to me and still jumps around a lot, screams, etc.

    Today was kind of the final straw. I need to move him to a new barn, as we bought a new house. He not only refused to load, but was showing his displeasure by rearing and striking the air. We ended up having to stop and arrange a different day to move him, for his safety and ours.

    Since he is moving to a new barn, I am hoping that leaving his herd will help, but I'm not sure! This new herd will include mares and geldings, but he will be out 24/7 instead of stalled. I'm at the point of thinking of selling him if this move doesn't help. This wasn't what I thought I was getting when I bought him, and not what I was hoping for in a horse for this stage of my life, which is so sad.

    Any advice or success stories? Thank you in advance!

  • #2
    not that this will cure his behaviors, but you mentioned that if all the other horse are stalled, he is fine............in order to get him inot to trailer, can the others be stalled for a short time, even if it is not their usual routine/ time of day to be stalled?

    at least that way you might be able to get him moved.......good luck.....

    and perhaps ask kerplexed WHAT her track trainer did to help her horse focus only on her and allow her to become the leader

    Comment


    • #3
      I have an extremely herdbound horse, and he just finds a new "best friend" wherever he goes. His "herdbound" behavior is limited to one horse, and his behavior is worst when he's in an unfamiliar environment (e.g. he & buddy go to show together and are separated). But his behavior is extremely dangerous in that situation; he'll throw me/run me over to get back to his friend. I just ended up avoiding going to the same shows as his buddy. Then he's an angel. Not ideal, but it works.

      Another horse of mine has the same herdbound behavior as yours. He's a young OTTB. The best way I've found to partially "cure" it is to just do it every day. Eventually that becomes the normal routine and he realized that "ok, I'm pretty certain they'll all be there when I get back, not entirely certain, but pretty sure". And while I don't have as good of a ride as I do when other horses are nearby, we can at least function. Especially at horse shows when he has to leave all his "friends" at the in-gate while he goes in to do a course by himself.

      Comment


      • #4
        We have a gelding that only does that in group turnout situations with mares. With geldings only he is fine. He was a stud for 3 years, never bred, but he loses his brain with the girls.

        When any of mine have shown the slightest potential for herd bound problems, I immediately changed up their herd, and kept doing it until the behavior went away. Mostly had the problem with my young (under 4) horses and it was quickly resolved.
        Beth Davidson
        Black Dog Farm Connemaras & Sport Horses
        http://blackdogconnemara.com
        visit my blog: http://ponyeventer.blogspot.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SummerJet View Post
          I know there are a lot of threads about this, so thanks for allowing one more

          I have a 10 yo OTTB who I've owned for 4 years. For the first year, year and a half, we had no issues. For some reason, he became herdbound. We didn't change barns or routines, nothing traumatic happened to him so I'm not sure of the "trigger". What I do know is that now he is king of his all gelding herd.

          When all horses are in their stalls for the night, he's a perfect angel. Easy to ride and we can leave the property without much drama, though because of the barns location we can't go too far. Anyway, the problem is when horses are outside and he needs to come in. He completely tunes out everything but getting back outside. He crow hops on the cross ties, screams, head in the air, prances, etc. Getting on to ride is possible, but he pays no real attention to me and still jumps around a lot, screams, etc.

          Today was kind of the final straw. I need to move him to a new barn, as we bought a new house. He not only refused to load, but was showing his displeasure by rearing and striking the air. We ended up having to stop and arrange a different day to move him, for his safety and ours.

          Since he is moving to a new barn, I am hoping that leaving his herd will help, but I'm not sure! This new herd will include mares and geldings, but he will be out 24/7 instead of stalled. I'm at the point of thinking of selling him if this move doesn't help. This wasn't what I thought I was getting when I bought him, and not what I was hoping for in a horse for this stage of my life, which is so sad.

          Any advice or success stories? Thank you in advance!
          it happens-
          things you can do to help when moved to a new home
          keep his work load the same as most of the time his work load never changes
          think if one was going to a show then they work so no difference and no need to be kept in- so work the horse this helps them to relax and stay focus it also put helps put boundary lines in
          2- keep to the same times when you go for the 1st couple weeks also helps them to settle
          3-could be that your feeding your horse to much high energy feedstuffs so is more feed related lush grass or good grass good high energy feeds and little to no work then the horse will behave like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off

          so- ditch the grian and all feeds and feed ab lib hay dont worry horsey wont die as hay is a main forage - when feeds are introduce to a horse it only takes days to enter the system but to let it come back out of a horse can take anything up to 3 weeks - so ab lib hay for 2/3 weeks

          then slowly re introduce feeds and use low energy or cool mixes that dont have anything in them to hype the horse up - check with any new barn what they are going to feed and read the back of any feed packet so you know what your horse is having as in small quanities in any feedstuffs fed over different feed soon builds up to higher quanities of that ingrediant

          so when introducing feed again do small meals little and often and slowly re introduce it with trial and error till you have a happy medium you can work with for instance the horse is over excited then reduce the amount or up it and change it slightly like i said trial and error

          each horse should be fed for weight size and work load one wouldnt be feeeding a shetland the same as a race horse and one wouldnt be feeding a horse in light work likewise the same as a race horse in full work
          and likewise one wouldn't be feeding a horse in light work high energy feedstuffs or in comparision a horse thats retired - you to what the horses needs are

          if in doubt contact your local vets for a nurtrionist ok

          3-ride your horse with confindence - and learn to ignore the ojections he sets for like as you have describe

          objects and objections can be riding past a gate, entry /exit in an areana , a cow a donkey a horse a car traffic etc

          be confident ride posistive sit in and sit the trama - if you ignore it your horse will
          other wise every yard you pass or show you go to you will have problems so start off as you mean to go on

          sit - and push him past it and keep him going forwards -

          when one sees an objection one or some automatcally tense this tells the horse your not ok with xyz- so in his mine it becomes a bigger issue off XYZ

          SO DONT THINK TO MUCH CLEAR YOUR MIND HAVE A SET GOAL OF GOING DOWN THE ROAD AND KEEP GOING - THIS TELLS THE HORSE YOUR IN CHARGE AND HE ISNT

          keep your legs on and sit in and talk to him use your tones of voice if a dog brought you slippers you pat and phase him likewise for a horse you pitch in your tone of voice would be one of joy


          if he poohed on your carpet you would scould your dog and say NO in deeper more effective voice as you wouldnt want him doing it again

          likewise for a horse -

          horses work on pressure- so when one tenses they can fed of that they feel your vibes
          horses like people to talk to them so they know when they done well or not

          voice is your biggest aid and asset so use it dont talk nampy pmaby baby stuff as they wont understand that it will be like lack of confident so leader to follow and will and can create a doubt in his mind

          hesistate - dont hesistate be posisitive and assertive in you do, and be direct but firm


          hesitation, lack of confidence, gives horses mixed signals and in a horses mind both are fear factors -1st is to flee the 2nd is to advade you be that ridden driven or handled

          horses like direct signals and leadership you have to be aplha at all times so he follows your lead if he does that when in he will do that when out


          and working the horse and feeding to what required of him correctly will go a long way in making that horse more secure both in and out and less likely to any behavioural problems

          Comment


          • #6
            The fundamental issue is that he does not pay attention to you when he feels distressed. Dr. Deb Bennett has an e-book devoted to this called "The Birdie Book." Birdie is just a metaphor for the horse's attention. To paraphrase her fundamental principle, "To the extent that the horse's body is not where its attention is, it will exhibit undesirable and dangerous behaviors." And your horse is dangerous when his body is not where his mind wants to be.
            Last edited by Snowdenfarm; Oct. 5, 2013, 09:22 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              My gelding sometimes gets like this. Not that dangerous, but generally obnoxious and fidgety adn unfocused.

              This is what I do:

              If he decides to be a jerk about it when he is in the barn and his woman is out, then EVERY day, I bring him in the barn alone, put him in his stall, and he stays there until he settles. He doesnt' like it when they are both in adn then I leave with her, leaving him in his stall. So, when this happens, I will brign both it to eat, then, she goes out. He throws a fit, and doesn't go back out until he settles.

              I will also remove his woman from his field, so he must stay out alone as well.

              After a few days of "you're going to come in the barn or stay in the field and behave yourself without her" he settles fine. Once in a while, he'll decide that he cannot leave her without being a jerk. We go back to the intentional separation until he can chill out and behave himself alone.
              "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

              Comment


              • #8
                Are the other horses calling for him when they are in the pasture? I have a mare that was terrible at her previous owners farm, mostly because the 2 mares back in the barn kept calling for her. Here at my farm my horses could care less if she left the field. She will look over at the field of horses expecting one of them to yell, but no one ever does, and she never calls back. Wondering if they are yelling to your horse if you could try to muffle their whinnies, maybe cotton in his ears? Just a thought.
                Derby Lyn Farms Website

                Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thank you all for the advice. I've read and read up on this behavior...the "easy" cure, of course, is separation. I hope the move will help, as well as having a mixed-sex herd. All gelding herds certainly aren't natural and I'm hoping at least one of the mares at the new place is witchy enough to put him in his place and bump him down the ladder a few rungs

                  It's weird, but the herd does NOT call to him when he's gone! He is supposedly the leader of the herd, but perhaps he's the only one who thinks that

                  Comment

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