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Tips on getting a horse to tolerate stalling?

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  • #21
    Probably a useless suggestion, but it's been my experience that horses just like/need to see, to see out of the barn, to see another horse, whatever. If the stall in question can be set up so she can always see other horses, or whatever floats her boat, then that accommodation is adequate for then asking the horse to tolerate her surroundings.

    I've taken it a step farther and hung a hay net or placed their hay so that they can still see companions when eating hay (vs. having to jam their head into a dark corner of the stall with no visibility at all -- we don't ask people to eat their meals like this, so it's thoughtless to ask a horse to do this ). A horse needs to feel 'safe' before it will eat, and I think being able to see its own kind most of the time is meeting that need, if actual proximity (horse across the aisle; being in a herd) isn't possible.


    • #22
      When I teach my babies to tie there are times when I do have to leave the barn rather than stand there and watch their shenanigans. They are tied as safely as I can manage, and are past the point where they're likely to completely melt down, but the adolescent drama is sometimes just too much.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #23
        Hi Sublinequine

        My mare was really bad as a youngster with the stall walking. She didn't run, but the pacing was very repetitive. Back and forth, back and forth, usually along one wall or another. Watching her, you can see her eye go blank as she paces. Reminds me of an autistic child, rocking to relieve themselves of stress. I couldn't tie her either (she does tie) as she would just rock back and forth in a smaller arc.

        Some of the things that have helped - Someone mentioned haybales in the stall. I did use old tires on the floor, that did seem to slow her down, but she just picked a new pattern to repeat.

        Have hung empty milk or oil cartons from the stall ceiling. that did seem to help more than the tires, but it might make your mare worried with something hanging in the stall.

        She was always okay if I was standing in the stall, so I just started a slow process of bringing her in, feeding/grooming with me in the stall to get her used to it. Having a stall guard was better for her. Slowly she could tolerate more and more. It was definitely worse if there was a lot of activity in the barn. It got to the point where she would not pace, if I brought her in late after the barn got quiet and I could basically put her in, turn the lights out and walk out.

        I highly recommend trying some of the calming supplements as you work through this process. The only natural one that works on my mare is the Quietex with the valerian. Can't show on it, but it does take the edge off. And if they don't help, a tab of Ace can be your friend.

        12 years later, mare may still pace, but mostly when she realizes it is show day and wants out of the stall.

        “You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretsky


        • #24
          I second ET's suggestion of a little chemical assistance. You can't teach her anything when her fight or flight is engaged. If you take that edge off, you can reach the critical thinking of her brain and teach her.

          I like Quietex for training purposes. It takes the edge off without making them dull and dopey. Help her out a little so you can overcome this quietly without additional injury risk.
          Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


          • #25
            I put up a gate that she can hang her head over. Otherwise, my mare is miserable. Even w hay. Only took me 5 years to come up with it.
            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


            • #26
              It really sounds like she had a super crappy start in life and is really lucky to have found someone like you!

              In the end, some horses are honestly just not happy in a stall and if you provide them with adequate shelter, blankets etc to keep them comfortable outside then just do that. Some things are really just not worth the fight.

              I do think you should start slow though and really just work on making the stall and the activities that happen in there a very positive experience. Slowly work away at it and hopefully over time she will relax and at least be able to tolerate a night or two in there if the weather is bad.

              My mare loves her stall and enjoys coming into it at night but she would be a major PITA if she had to be on stall rest and I can guarantee she would require some sort of sedative while she was. So just because they like their stalls overnight and in bad weather doesn't mean when they are injured and all their friends go out they are going to be happy campers being left behind


              • Original Poster

                Just thought I'd post a quick update.

                Things are going well. She comes in with her buddy, they both get their beet pulp snacks the second they go into the stalls. After she finishes, she gets a half flake of hay while we groom/tack up. Ride, then go back into the stall to finish the hay and more grooming. I leave the stall door open with a stall guard, and this seems to help a lot. If she hears a stall door opening/closing she gets nervous, but all things considered is handling it well!

                Slowly trying to leave her and the buddy alone, so I'm out of sight. I go into the tack room, or out to the pasture to fill the trough, and she does ok. She looks out the stall door and waits for me, but no blind panic. I'm going to slowly up the time she's left in and I'm out of sight.

                Things are going smoother than I thought, thanks for all the input guys! Fingers crossed the progress continues!
                Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!