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Horses who are "bad" in turnout

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  • Horses who are "bad" in turnout

    Curious if anyone else has a horse that is bad/crazy in turnout and how you handle it.

    I have a 6 yr old TB mare who seems to have no self control when she's turned out. If turned out alone, she will spend an inordinate amount of time squealing and standing on her hind legs. In a group, she runs uncontrollably and repeatedly challenges the herd leader. Her behavior has resulted in major and minor injuries to both herself and other horses.

    Last night, alone in a small paddock, she spent 2 hours sunbathing/eating hay and ignoring dogs, children, the neighbor's horses, etc. Then randomly, in a quiet moment, she leapt in the air, ran to the gate, reared repeatedly to the point I was afraid she'd come down ON the gate, then proceeded to run/spin/buck/snort/leap for several minutes, totally out of control, oblivious to attempts to try and catch her.

    Once she was brought in, she stood with a hind leg cocked and more or less fell asleep in the aisle.

    Obviously she just doesn't tolerate turnout and has to be managed carefully. Just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this.

  • #2
    I find that they are usually best if just left out, so the WOO HOO! novelty of going out is gone. If there are quiet horses they can go out with, all the better.

    I have a TB mare who is very much like this and is MUCH better when out 24/7. When she's in overnight, she's like a tornado in the field. Wherever she is going, it will be as fast as possible, and will all necessary accompanying acrobatics, with little regard to her safety or how much time she needs to stop before obstacles. She has taken out the pasture gate twice in the last month by running/sliding into it. Did I mention she's 21?

    She tends to incite drama with other horses, so she has to go out with those that will ignore her or just quietly drive her off.
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

    Comment


    • #3
      Sometimes track horses just do NOT know what to do with themselves in turnout, since during their track years they rarely get to do anything by themselves--they're either in a stall or attached to a human somehow, 24/7.

      Some of them, I'd say many of them, outgrow it, but there's always the odd one who never does.

      I agree that being out ALL the time might be the best thing, but if the horse is expected to show or go places then keeping it at least somewhat accustomed to being in a stall is important as well.

      As to which companions--that is often a lot of trial and error! Hopefully you have lots of options. Good luck!
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment


      • #4
        I am not one to bring them in if they are being silly IF they are truly just being silly and not seriously upset (scared, crazed by bugs, just plain old stupid). You can usually tell, too, the difference, because of their body language and WHAT they are doing. Usually, if you can survive the heart stopping moments of them just being goofs, they'll settle back down and go back to more appropriate behavior.

        My horse can be a monster in turn out. But he's just a fit, goofy horse with too much energy, too big a brain, and an intolerance for boredom. His pasture is by my house (actually surrounds my house). The other night, I came out to leave for the evening, and he was out there, herding his pasture mate around, sprinting from place to place, bucking, farting, and generally acting a fool. He saw me, galloped up to the fence, did a slide stop in the mud, reared, spun, and chased after his companion. Why? Because he can. He was happily grazing when I got back a few hours later.

        My point is, turn out is where they get out their s**ts and giggles. For some horses, they have none to get out. For others, they really need to cut loose and be silly (Even when they are out a lot! Toby is out 12-18 hours a day right now, and can STILL be a total doofus). If you're worried, throw some boots on her, be sure she's in an appropriately safe turn out, be sure there's plenty to eat, then JUST DON'T WATCH.

        As for companions...that can be trickier. I have a young horse here who ran through every one of our geldings. He could NOT figure out any sort of social order and would pester and bully and generally act like an ill mannered hooligan until his companion(s) finally truly got pissed and unleashed on him. After our sweetest, quietest, most wonderful gelding injured him the second time, we sent him to exile, to a field all alone. Sucks to be him, but it's a lot better for EVERYONE's sake. Sometimes, they just need to be alone....sad but true.
        Amanda

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you for the replies so far. Interesting to see how everyone handles their "silly" ones!

          I have had this mare since mid-August. Two days before I picked her up, she rolled under a gate and banged up her stifle. A month later she went butt to butt with the alpha mare in a 4-horse herd and kicked the other mare badly enough to make her lame. Back to individual turnout she went, where like I said, she spent most of her time on her hind legs.

          Two months after that she was back in the herd turnout due to her bad behavior. Shortly thereafter, she came in 3-legged lame with 2 small lacerations and a crushed SDFT--70% of the tendon was damaged. No one knows how she did it.

          She is currently rehabbing from that injury. She has been cleared for turnout for over 2 months and still requires Ace to go out, and even that doesn't always keep her quiet.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've known several horses over the years that just cannot handle turn out. Worst case I have ever seen was a perch/tb show mare though. Her past is sketchy but lends to all the old wives tales of an orphan foal improperly socialized to the point she would attack other horses when turned out with them. Add in years and years of being a show horse without much turn out and you have a true recipe for disaster every single time she was out with other horses. Under saddle she wore a red ribbon not because she would kick but because she was like a freakin shark. Most of her ear pinning and short hop jaws wide open would be bluster but sometimes not. She earned a stall with a run in and was rode as much as possible to keep her energy manageable.

            Then there are the 4 Hooligans. All Tbs, All Geldings, and ALL more than willing to push the boundaries of your heart medicine with their antics. They are all extremely fit and extremely athletic which makes their displays even more impressive. (All of us on our knees thanking the gods we are not riding them during these episodes.) If you turn them out one at a time and let each one figure out his parts and get his woo hoo out of the way they are better than turning them all loose together at the same time. If you add any other horses to the mix they are even worse and will either beat poor horse up or run them to death (Only pony can sort them out as only ponies can.).
            Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
            Originally Posted by alicen:
            What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

            Comment


            • #7
              Are there any diet alterations you can try with her diet to see if you can take some of the wind out of her sails? She must be a handful under saddle, too.

              You have my sympathies

              She sounds like one that may just need very limited turnout (at least in size of area where she can get going), only go out when the footing is good, and maybe with boots on. I would always make sure she has something worth eating when she goes out to help distract her a bit. Hopefully she'll mellow a bit.
              As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

              Comment


              • #8
                We have a mare here who recently started being totally nutz in turnout. As soon as I turned her out she was dancing at the gate and wanting to come in. If I ignored her, she'd get more and more agitated in a lather and this is an old girl with soundness problems so I really don't want her running her legs off.

                Also, it was new behavior.

                If I brought her in, she was fine being in the stall.

                Anyway after trying different things- I cut her grain in half. Just that- as an experiment. She was not getting a lot but she's a hard keeper so she was getting some.

                well it was Night and day. Back to 'normal'- no more dancing at the gate and now stays out all day with the other horses

                We will adjust her diet accordingly but just wanted to add this to the thread because sometimes the cure is very simple.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by CrowneDragon View Post
                  Are there any diet alterations you can try with her diet to see if you can take some of the wind out of her sails? She must be a handful under saddle, too.

                  You have my sympathies

                  She sounds like one that may just need very limited turnout (at least in size of area where she can get going), only go out when the footing is good, and maybe with boots on. I would always make sure she has something worth eating when she goes out to help distract her a bit. Hopefully she'll mellow a bit.
                  Thanks She is currently getting just a bit of senior feed with her supplements twice per day. She does go out with boots all around, XC boots no less!

                  And the weird thing is, she is VERY well behaved under saddle. Yesterday I rode her almost immediately after the extreme rearing episode and she was totally fine.

                  She is a special one!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have a mare that can be less then polite depending on her company. She fancies herself as an alpha but its terrible at it. Worries to much , frets the other horses. What she needs its to be out with a TRUE alpha that will stand their ground with her and then she is happy as a clam to except their leadership.

                    Perhaps a turn out buddy of the wise old soul /doesn't take crap type who will just ignore her and walk away with a few snarky looks thrown in.

                    It sounds to me like she is to high/hot look seriously at her diet , can she be hand walked or ridden prior to turn out ? Put her out when she is tired.

                    I think limiting her turn out will just create a horse that will always act a fool. At some point your going to have to ignore her and leave her out. The antics are screaming stir crazy kid. Find her a buddy that can tolerate her and put her OUT

                    Add I noticed you said Senior food ..what brand ?, what supplements , what hay and what is "a bit" .
                    "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Lynnwood View Post
                      I have a mare that can be less then polite depending on her company. She fancies herself as an alpha but its terrible at it. Worries to much , frets the other horses. What she needs its to be out with a TRUE alpha that will stand their ground with her and then she is happy as a clam to except their leadership.

                      Perhaps a turn out buddy of the wise old soul /doesn't take crap type who will just ignore her and walk away with a few snarky looks thrown in.

                      It sounds to me like she is to high/hot look seriously at her diet , can she be hand walked or ridden prior to turn out ? Put her out when she is tired.

                      I think limiting her turn out will just create a horse that will always act a fool. At some point your going to have to ignore her and leave her out. The antics are screaming stir crazy kid. Find her a buddy that can tolerate her and put her OUT

                      Add I noticed you said Senior food ..what brand ?, what supplements , what hay and what is "a bit" .
                      Grass hay, TC senior, vitamin E and Smart Tendon. Maybe 2 qts of senior 2x/day. Riding her beforehand does not do much in the way of changing her behavior in turnout. She is generally dead quiet beforehand and dead quiet afterwards.

                      She has exhibited this behavior whether she is turned out for 2 hrs or 8 hrs. She behaves like this in turnout whether she's at a busy 50-stall boarding barn or a small 4-horse private facility.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LuvMyTB View Post
                        Thank you for the replies so far. Interesting to see how everyone handles their "silly" ones!

                        I have had this mare since mid-August. Two days before I picked her up, she rolled under a gate and banged up her stifle. A month later she went butt to butt with the alpha mare in a 4-horse herd and kicked the other mare badly enough to make her lame. Back to individual turnout she went, where like I said, she spent most of her time on her hind legs.

                        Two months after that she was back in the herd turnout due to her bad behavior. Shortly thereafter, she came in 3-legged lame with 2 small lacerations and a crushed SDFT--70% of the tendon was damaged. No one knows how she did it.

                        She is currently rehabbing from that injury. She has been cleared for turnout for over 2 months and still requires Ace to go out, and even that doesn't always keep her quiet.
                        Ah, well, injury DOES make things different.

                        That being said, I bet she'll chill out once she has something that engages her brain (A JOB) and isn't rehabbing. That can make the best of horses nutty, even WITH a little turnout. Drugs are your friend.

                        I still think giving her some time to adjust once she's in work and using her big, busy TB brain more (maybe solo, though, since she sounds BAD in the field...and I have those mares, too), she'll settle and get the hang of it.
                        Amanda

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                          Ah, well, injury DOES make things different.

                          That being said, I bet she'll chill out once she has something that engages her brain (A JOB) and isn't rehabbing. That can make the best of horses nutty, even WITH a little turnout. Drugs are your friend.

                          I still think giving her some time to adjust once she's in work and using her big, busy TB brain more (maybe solo, though, since she sounds BAD in the field...and I have those mares, too), she'll settle and get the hang of it.
                          Ah, but she IS in work....20 mins of trotting per day, plus another 20 mins of walking. 6 days/week. She behaves like this no matter what.....and she is Aced for turnout.

                          Her behavior was like this prior to the injury, I believe it was what caused the injury......was just looking for anecdotes from others as I haven't come across one like her before.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LuvMyTB View Post
                            Obviously she just doesn't tolerate turnout and has to be managed carefully. Just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this.
                            Not obvious to me. I would have said she doesn't tolerate *confinement.*


                            The typical horsekeeping around here is a 12x24 outdoor corral with a shade and maybe turnout in a roundpen for 30 minutes a few times a week. My TB would hang himself off the shade if that were all he got. When I was boarding I turned him out daily and calculated he ran full steam at least 15 miles a week in addition to his 6 days/week of riding. This was with him not getting feed to make him more energetic, too.

                            He kept injuring himself in the stall because of lack of opportunities to run. He, too, didn't tolerate confinement well.

                            We ended up building a place and he has an acre to run 24/7 off a stall. He is either asleep or galloping for the most part, but now most of the time galloping is two relaxed circuits around his pen and over bushes and small trees rather than 15-30 minutes running full force to a sweating, foaming mess and possibly running into something and injuring himself if he gets distracted but doesn't want to slow.


                            A positive side effect other than the fact it means he's less likely to hurt himself is his topline drastically improved within two months because he spent so much time in motion once he could.
                            Originally posted by Silverbridge
                            If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have/had one like that. He has gradually over the years learned to like turnout. To start with he just couldn't handle it. He had no clue how to socialize with the other horses. We gave him a pony and gave him very limited turnout (1/2 hour to an hour) to start and we were gradually able to increase the time he was out. He now likes turnout, but is still picky about the conditions. If the day doesn't suit him, you generally know it fairly quickly.
                              I think we all want them to enjoy as much outdoor time as possible, but I think there are some that for whatever reason are not comfortable in the great outdoors either as part of a herd or on their own.

                              Edited to add, I would also look at the senior food. It turned on of our seniors into a raving lunatic. Pulled the food and he went back to being his nice quiet self.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I will make one plea: at some point, someone will recommend that you breed her to settle her down. Which very well may work, but it sounds like she has a trait or several that are probably better off not being passed down.
                                Don't do it. Please.
                                I have gotten that rec several times regarding my mare. Even from her vet! Aside from being chronically unsound, super accident prone, and a bit on the wacky side, she has a very weak back and crooked RF leg. Just....no.

                                There are some horses that are just too dangerous to themselves to really turn out. If she is one (at least right now), I'd just try to make sure she is getting some free time outdoors every day. That could be a pen the size of her stall, or a run off of her stall. I think they should all be out of doors, in fresh air and sun every day, with a chance to talk to other horses (over the fence is OK) even when real turnout isn't possible.
                                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Magnesium? lots and lots of it? only half kidding - my gelding is a much nicer guy with a huge dose of Remission and some sort of calming cookie that my friend buys for him...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Horse behavior that we deem as nice is learned by youngsters early in their lives by being physically corrected out of their bad manners by members of the herd. First mom gives them the basic do's and don'ts, then their herds reinforce the lessons and polish off their manners as they challenge and climb their way up through the pecking order, until they become accepted citizens in the herd. There's a lot of biting, chasing, kicking and shunning involved in getting Junior's manners to the level of herd acceptability. Consistently unacceptable manners mean physical punishment, or ejection from the herd. This is how they become socialized in a herd. If there is an interruption in this cycle, the horse does not become socialized to members of its own kind. Some well-meaning adults force an interruption at an early age, and you end up with this problem.

                                    Horses that are 'bad' by human standards in turnout, and can't be managed into better behavior by feed changes, face one of two choices: individual turnout, or turnout with a horse they have spent a lot of time making friends with over the fence, and that can still be a big maybe. I would put her into individual turnout in a space large enough so she feels confident, and see how she handles herself with her neighbors from there. And leave it that way for quite a while. The only other people who would allow a horse like this to be turned out with theirs are those who own big time bully alpha horses who have kicked, bitten and rolled over every other horse in their determined path to get to the top, and don't give a damn about what it needs to do to yours in order to keep that top spot. Chances are good their owners don't really care what happens to your horse either. And that would not only be a crash course in socialization for your horse, but a dangerous one, as well. I would avoid that course of action at this point in time.

                                    Good luck with your horse!
                                    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                                    http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      And then there are those who truly shouldn't be turned out... and are none the worse for wear. Which would be my mare. Not because she is too silly, but because she literally does not know what to do in turnout and will panic, scream to be brought in, and gallop the fence line constantly until I go catch her. She is obviously more relaxed once she gets to her "house", a stall with a nice sized yard and no mesh grate (It has the bottom boards, but not the mesh top so she can put her head over her "wall", if that makes sense, and a swinging door, not a sliding door) and a neighbor she can visit with that she just adores (the other mare is kinda like her nanny).

                                      We tried for three years to introduce her to turnout, and this would happen consistently. Since she functions perfectly well without it, we figured that it was kinder to avoid stressing her this much and will just leave her in her stall, and give her a spin around the lunge line when she needs to get a few bucks out (which is rare). If she wants to go outside she can go out. She has enough space to trot around, nap, wander and nibble at leaves that fall into her yard, or come into her stall and sleep, eat, drink, etc.

                                      Being in the barn is her "happy space". She, too, was an OTTB, and for the first few years I had her off the track was absolutely bat sh** INSANE. People would ask me what she would do, and the answer was, "Everything." She reared, bucked, bolted, spun, spooked, stopped at fences, attempted to throw herself on the ground, the whole nine yards. After much trial and error, we figured out what program works best for her and I stick to it, no matter whether it is "fashionable" or "conventional" or what. It works for her and that's all that matters.

                                      A similar approach may work with this one- although it sounds like you have the under saddle part down! Try everything that is reasonable and use the results of these trials to guide what you try next. When you find what works, stick to it. Good luck!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I would decrease her feed to 1 cup, and her supplements. 1/2 c am 1/2 c pm. Bet her silly behavior will stop. She has too many calories to burn. Decrease them.

                                        I am fascinated at reading some of these posts.

                                        I boarded at a h/j barn and one tb reared and played alot. One time he reared to play with his neighbor and he got his foot hung on the thick wire fencing, literally ripped off his entire hoof clean off. They bandaged him and hauled him to the vet where they euth'd him. It was a very bloody trail from the paddock to the trailer, rats were on the blood feasting. It was bad. They should have called vet and euth'd him there at the farm, but they didn't.

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