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Tips to manage a field board horse who has to live in a stall for horseshow weekends?

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  • Tips to manage a field board horse who has to live in a stall for horseshow weekends?

    My AA Hunter is currently/happily on field board; When we show on our local circuit, he lives in a stall at the showgrounds for the weekend. It's definitely NOT his favorite thing, so we do a lot of hand walking/grazing etc. He also gets a ton of hay in the stall, and several treat balls to keep him distracted. Does anyone show a horse that lives in this type of situation? Would love any additional tips on keeping him happy and comfy when we show!

  • #2
    Is there a specific problem you want to address? Like he paces or cribs, or has too much pent up energy when you ride? If not I'd just keep doing as you are, try to walk him often (grazing even better if available). Slow feed net if he otherwise goes without hay in front of him for periods. Some horses prefer being on the end of a row where there is less activity while other seem to like seeing people and horses around them, so figure out if your horse has a preference and try to accommodate that when you can.
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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Yes, he definitely goes through periods of standing quietly and sleeping, and then periods of high anxiety (pacing, rearing!) I'm just trying to minimize the high periods. Poor buddy. I think the slow feeder hay net is a great idea because he just tramples the hay on the ground. He's also started getting Ulcerguard before a show, although I didn't see a huge difference yet. We're heading to Harrisburg in a bit where I don't think there is ANY grazing, so I see a lot of hand walking in our future.

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      • #4
        As you have been, I would try to get him out for as frequent hand walks as you can. I try to hand walk mine every 2 hours if I can, for about 15 min. Red will tend to stock up in a stall too (because he's not used to it), so the Back-On-Track quick wraps help a lot for that.

        Keep a slow feed net of hay in front of him at all times.
        And yes on the Ulcerguard.
        It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

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        • #5
          Handwalking is usually the best thing in those situations for sure. I also do lots of carrot stretches in the stall and outside the stall. If your horse enjoys grooming, it can be nice to give them an extra curry or brush here and there. I

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          • #6
            Not sure how many resources you can/want to throw at it, or what facilities you are visiting, but -

            - purchase two tent stalls and make a double stall
            - purchase a paddock, or rent a few hours of paddock time from a group who purchased a paddock, or rent/trailer somewhere nearby to use a field
            - ride multiple times a day, either just brisk walking for a good while, or good w/t/c if the horse could stand to be less fresh overall

            How often do you show? Does he go well in his classes?

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for the replies! Honestly, I'm planning to switch him to stall board as soon as a stall opens (our stall board horses still get 12+ hours of turnout) to manage him better for horse shows!

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Redlei44 View Post
                Not sure how many resources you can/want to throw at it, or what facilities you are visiting, but -

                - purchase two tent stalls and make a double stall
                - purchase a paddock, or rent a few hours of paddock time from a group who purchased a paddock, or rent/trailer somewhere nearby to use a field
                - ride multiple times a day, either just brisk walking for a good while, or good w/t/c if the horse could stand to be less fresh overall

                How often do you show? Does he go well in his classes?
                This summer, he showed once or twice a month. He's FINE outside of the stall, and he even showed from the trailer once. Hmm.. I love the idea of a double stall if that's available. It's not normally avail at the fairgrounds (perm, shed row stables) but maybe at Harrisburg (not the real Harrisburg - Colonial Classic Harrisburg. :P)

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                • #9
                  Are there any empty stalls at home that he can spend time in on a fairly regular basis? When I'm dealing with one like this, I like to put them in a stall after riding to chill for a bit before going back out. They will spin, rear, etc at first because they are nervous, but you just keep doing it, taking them out to go back to their pasture when they are calm, not uptight. (so you may have to watch for it). I sometimes feed them in there, etc. Associate it as a nice place to be. Make the time longer and longer and do some overnights if you can.

                  I always want my horses to be okay with being in a stall. If they aren't, what happens if they get injured and need to be in one? That's just not going to be pretty at a time you are trying to keep them as immobilized as possible.
                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                  Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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                  • #10
                    Rugbug has some good suggestions. Also I wouldn't just spring the slow feeder net on him at the show if he has never used one before. Some horses tend to find them more frustrating than friendly until they figure it out, so a little practice might be in order
                    Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                    • #11
                      My mare is a psychopath when stalled too much and a lunatic at shows, so overnights are super fun. She doesn't rear and act a fool in the stall, but becomes generally upset and no fun to be around - tries to run out the door and barrel you over when you go to let her out, spooks at every single thing, prances on the lead, etc. I tried the whole stalling at home thing to get her used to it for shows - doesn't work. Just makes her unruly at home too, with no improvement at shows, and I prefer to be able to actually work on real things during my regular rides instead of working on walking past a scary bucket for 45 minutes.

                      At shows I get her out and hand walk and/or graze OFTEN, and usually lightly lunge 2-3 times a day in addition to my rides. Free choice hay in a net in her stall.
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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                        Are there any empty stalls at home that he can spend time in on a fairly regular basis? When I'm dealing with one like this, I like to put them in a stall after riding to chill for a bit before going back out. They will spin, rear, etc at first because they are nervous, but you just keep doing it, taking them out to go back to their pasture when they are calm, not uptight. (so you may have to watch for it). I sometimes feed them in there, etc. Associate it as a nice place to be. Make the time longer and longer and do some overnights if you can.

                        I always want my horses to be okay with being in a stall. If they aren't, what happens if they get injured and need to be in one? That's just not going to be pretty at a time you are trying to keep them as immobilized as possible.
                        Yes, when I bring him in to tack up before a ride, he goes in a stall for a few minutes (giving him a chance to eat some hay, or pee usually!) and then always after we're done riding (take a drink, eat some hay, and pee if he didn't before.) If he's alone in the barn, he'll get anxious, but if he has a buddy, he seems to do ok. This is what we work on at shows too - being able to see his buddies.

                        And your point about being injured is excellent because he needed stiches in his lower eye lid over the summer. Fortunately, it wasn't terrible and he could go back out after, but I would have really preferred he stayed in for a few days since it was one of those weeks here in MD where it torrentially down poured every day!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by DMK View Post
                          Rugbug has some good suggestions. Also I wouldn't just spring the slow feeder net on him at the show if he has never used one before. Some horses tend to find them more frustrating than friendly until they figure it out, so a little practice might be in order
                          Ah, I just assumed he'd do ok since he does a hay net in the trailer. Good point! Thx!

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                            My mare is a psychopath when stalled too much and a lunatic at shows, so overnights are super fun. She doesn't rear and act a fool in the stall, but becomes generally upset and no fun to be around - tries to run out the door and barrel you over when you go to let her out, spooks at every single thing, prances on the lead, etc. I tried the whole stalling at home thing to get her used to it for shows - doesn't work. Just makes her unruly at home too, with no improvement at shows, and I prefer to be able to actually work on real things during my regular rides instead of working on walking past a scary bucket for 45 minutes.

                            At shows I get her out and hand walk and/or graze OFTEN, and usually lightly lunge 2-3 times a day in addition to my rides. Free choice hay in a net in her stall.
                            Same - when he's had enough, he'll try to run out the 1/2 door (or over, hence the addition of a gate. Of course, he's also tried to go under the gate, too). We call those his "mantrums". Half the time he's pissy because he wants a treat - other times, he's just done and wants to go home.

                            We spent a ton of effort trying to keep him happy at shows because he's such a nice show horse. He's certainly "special" - LOL Thanks for all of the great comments!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AcrossTheCountry View Post

                              Yes, when I bring him in to tack up before a ride, he goes in a stall for a few minutes (giving him a chance to eat some hay, or pee usually!) and then always after we're done riding (take a drink, eat some hay, and pee if he didn't before.) If he's alone in the barn, he'll get anxious, but if he has a buddy, he seems to do ok. This is what we work on at shows too - being able to see his buddies.

                              And your point about being injured is excellent because he needed stiches in his lower eye lid over the summer. Fortunately, it wasn't terrible and he could go back out after, but I would have really preferred he stayed in for a few days since it was one of those weeks here in MD where it torrentially down poured every day!
                              If you can, try to make the time in the stall longer and longer. I was working with one that was a terror in stalls...we ended up building him up so he could spend hours in there without fussing and even doing overnights with him in the stall. If they are in to much of a routine, that is what they will expect.

                              My mare who lives in a stall, gets massive herdbound at shows. We do a lot of handwalking but it's usually just time that gets her over it. First day, she'll have nothing to do with her buddies leaving...and is only slightly better about leaving them. We do lots of handwalks and groundwork all day long...and her stall has to be fully closed if she is there without her buddy. By the end of the show, she can manage with just a stall chain up and she'll chill. Tired horse is a good horse.
                              Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                              Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Happy to report that he spent three full days at Harrisburg in the temp stalls, and was PERFECT! The stalls there are bright and airy and he could see his neighbors, so he was pretty happy. Plus I threw like 8 bags of shavings in there (stalls are on concrete) so he was quite cozy. I was more stressed about the stalls than the show, so phew, what a huge relief!

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                                • #17
                                  Good news! Did you have any luck in the show ring?
                                  ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by jvanrens View Post
                                    Good news! Did you have any luck in the show ring?
                                    We did, thanks for asking! 6th in the first O/F, no ribbon in the second O/F b/c he spooked at the big scoreboard in the corner (but otherwise went *great*), and, there were 27 (!) in our hack class. He's a decent mover, but nothing special, so it was hard to get noticed. But he was a really good boy all weekend. We had an absolute blast!

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                                    • #19
                                      It sounds like you have the problem solved, but if any of my horses get unruly in a stall, they stand tied in the corner. Not an option, of course, if your horse doesn't stand tied well.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                                        It sounds like you have the problem solved, but if any of my horses get unruly in a stall, they stand tied in the corner. Not an option, of course, if your horse doesn't stand tied well.
                                        This can be a great method. I find with some, you need to slow their brain down for them to realize that they are okay and they don't need to pace/rear/etc. But without stopping or pausing the behavior, it can be hard.

                                        My mare can be funny in a stall, especially if a stallmate leaves (even if other horses are still around). I tried a lot of things, and what works best is calmly tying her up, without a lot of lead so she can't wiggle around, with a hay bag close. It just seems to make her realize "Oh, okay, I'm fine, I have hay, and I don't need to pace." Whereas if you just leave her in there, she'll just keep pacing...and if you take her out, you may stop the behavior by proxy, but it doesn't really teach her to be calm in the stall itself. I think by now, it almost acts as her security blanket. Being tied has become a safe space when she's anxious. It calms her down, and then I can set her loose and the calmness tends to stay.
                                        Jennifer Baas
                                        It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

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