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Thin Skinned Horses

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    Thin Skinned Horses

    Do they ever become thicker skinned?

    I have a very young horse sensitive to nicks and scrapes but also loosing all sense of her surrounding when flies cluster. I had to put her in a stall to loose it in there for a minute before bringing her back out in the crossties as she was starting to forget I was there. She isn't mean she just can't stand them and stops, wiggles, kicks and bites herself. We use fans and sprays which help tremendously.

    But on turn out last night the gate chain brushed her back leg in a nanosecond and she kicked out without knowing if anyone was behind her. Thankfully only the chain was and it came back and smacked her leg hard enough for her to realize she likely should have been more mindful before aimlessly kicking. Hopefully that little bite from the chain did the trick.

    It was really bad for flies yesterday due to weather but I'd like to train some of this out of her. Feed through fly product maybe?
    Last edited by Against*All*Odds; Aug. 20, 2020, 01:52 PM.

    #2
    Sounds like a couple things:

    - Young horse needs to learn that things of all types can touch her and she can be okay with it
    - Young horse needs to learn that even under stress (in this case, flies, but this applies elsewhere as well) she needs to be mindful of where people handling/riding her are
    - Yes, sounds like you have a horse with a low tolerance to bugs

    I haven't seen the third get better with age. It tends to be part of a total personality package and that personality tends to be highly sensitive, high energy horses.

    But you can do quite a bit about the first two, and that may make a world of difference about the fly issue. Exposure, exposure, exposure. Pull out everything you can think of to show her and touch her with. Ropes, tarps, bags, flags...your imagination is your only limiting factor. This horse wasn't aimlessly kicking: something touched her suddenly, and as a prey animal her first instinct is going to be to leave/flee. You were holding her, so she couldn't flee. So she did the next best thing, which is fight, and in this case the fight meant trying to get rid of what worried her. She's just being a horse.
    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

    Comment


      #3
      I think most do. When they’re young their pain tolerance can be pretty low because they’ve just never felt anything like that so they freak out about little injuries.

      I think the overreaction to pain and itchiness/ uncomfortableness does get better over time because it’s not as new. Kind of like when a kid gets stung by a bee versus an adult. It doesn’t hurt any less as an adult but when you’re an adult you (Usually) don’t have that “omg bees, I’m going to die” anxiety that makes the little kids freak out. I will say that some horses though seem to be allergic to some bugs and you can tell by the swelling that it can legitimately be more painful in which case you should talk to your vet about steroids or allergy medications.

      I definitely don’t support locking them in a stall to “lose it” though. IMO thats mean and definitely not going to solve anything and is a very dated method of “training”. If the horse is uncomfortable that’s ok let her be uncomfortable. How would you like it if there was a horsefly biting you and you had no way to get it off? She’s telling you she has an itch, let her itch. Or scratch the itch for her. She’s ignoring you because you’re ignoring her. Teach her it’s ok to itch, it’s ok to feel uncomfortable, she just can’t plow you over. She’ll tone down the dramatics with time.

      Comment


        #4
        I use an Amigo Fly Rider sheet to ride during fly season. It is specifically made to use while riding.

        The horses seem to like it. I get the feeling that if the sun is beating down on them that they feel like they have some shade when we put it on. It does not seem to make the horses any hotter.

        Comment


          #5
          How young is a "very young" horse? I'm sure they are not new to flies, even if they are still a weanling. Some horses are more sensitive, and some are pestered more by flies than other horses.

          I agree that I wouldn't put a horse in a stall "to lose it". I don't really understand how that would help. I would put them in a stall to get away from flies, though.

          I would definitely look into fly sheets, masks, boots, etc. if a horse is particularly sensitive and fly sprays are not working. Fly bites hurt! Mine freak out over the giant bomber flies this time of year. There isn't really anything I can do to stop them, but they will sometimes come to me in hopes I can kill it or save them from it in some way.

          Comment

            Original Poster

            #6
            To clarify: I put her in a stall to "loose it" for a minute while I walked to the tack room to get fly spray. I didn't know COTH thought of stalls as a form of punishment for horses. This horse prefers to be inside.

            Abbie.S thank you. She had 90 days at the trainers and did the sacking out thing with ropes, traps and flags. She can be handled everywhere and is easy for vet and farrier. She's also totally fine under saddle and in "work" mode without any sheets or extra gear. She seems to just just have a low tolerance for bugs in the cross ties. Kicking the gate chain was completely new but it was very evident she thought it was a fly. She doesn't seem any more bothered in turnout than any of her pasture mates. Her field is scraped regularly. She doesn't run or work herself up over bugs in the pasture and goes out naked happily. I would just like to tone down her exuberance to tail swishing, and kicking at flies when people are near her but perhaps she'll just always be thin skinned and sensitive to them.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
              To clarify: I put her in a stall to "loose it" for a minute while I walked to the tack room to get fly spray. I didn't know COTH thought of stalls as a form of punishment for horses.
              I mean COTH might not but I sure do. They’re not toddlers and don’t understand the concept of a “time out”. Personally, if my horse was freaking out about the flies, the last thing I’m going to do would be to cross tie her so she has no way of itching or getting the flies off. I’d freak out too if I had bugs all over me and couldn’t get them off. I mean cross ties are convenient for us, but if it’s not an option at the moment you can tack up without cross ties.

              I think too many horse people thing that “training” young horses just involves over exposing them to a stimulus until they learn to suck it up and I don’t agree. Listen to your horse and be empathetic to their anxiety.

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Equkelly View Post

                I mean COTH might not but I sure do. They’re not toddlers and don’t understand the concept of a “time out”. Personally, if my horse was freaking out about the flies, the last thing I’m going to do would be to cross tie her so she has no way of itching or getting the flies off. I’d freak out too if I had bugs all over me and couldn’t get them off. I mean cross ties are convenient for us, but if it’s not an option at the moment you can tack up without cross ties.

                I think too many horse people thing that “training” young horses just involves over exposing them to a stimulus until they learn to suck it up and I don’t agree. Listen to your horse and be empathetic to their anxiety.
                LOL please re-read my first post. I had to take her FROM cross ties and put her in a stall to rid herself of the flies as she wished (aka loose it) THEN I brought her back into the cross ties to fly spray her. Out of an abundance of empathy and for safety

                Agreed- she's not a toddler, she's a livestock animal.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
                  To clarify: I put her in a stall to "loose it" for a minute while I walked to the tack room to get fly spray. I didn't know COTH thought of stalls as a form of punishment for horses. This horse prefers to be inside.

                  Abbie.S thank you. She had 90 days at the trainers and did the sacking out thing with ropes, traps and flags. She can be handled everywhere and is easy for vet and farrier. She's also totally fine under saddle and in "work" mode without any sheets or extra gear. She seems to just just have a low tolerance for bugs in the cross ties. Kicking the gate chain was completely new but it was very evident she thought it was a fly. She doesn't seem any more bothered in turnout than any of her pasture mates. Her field is scraped regularly. She doesn't run or work herself up over bugs in the pasture and goes out naked happily. I would just like to tone down her exuberance to tail swishing, and kicking at flies when people are near her but perhaps she'll just always be thin skinned and sensitive to them.
                  I don't really know what "loose it" means, then. "Loose" as in shake the flies loose? Or "lose it" as in she is losing her mind?

                  I have no issue with a horse being put in a stall as relief from flies. I would question a horse being stalled because they are "losing their mind"....like a time out. But it seems that's not what you mean.

                  If she really only has issues on cross-ties, then I'd just be more proactive about fly control in the barn - I used to spray the floor with a dilution of Pine-Sol to help keep flies down in the aisle. My horses have far more issues in the pasture and will sometimes gallop to the gate when they are bad - that's a dangerous situation I don't like but don't have a lot of control over other than just turn them out later.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
                    To clarify: I put her in a stall to "loose it" for a minute while I walked to the tack room to get fly spray. I didn't know COTH thought of stalls as a form of punishment for horses. This horse prefers to be inside.

                    Abbie.S thank you. She had 90 days at the trainers and did the sacking out thing with ropes, traps and flags. She can be handled everywhere and is easy for vet and farrier. She's also totally fine under saddle and in "work" mode without any sheets or extra gear. She seems to just just have a low tolerance for bugs in the cross ties. Kicking the gate chain was completely new but it was very evident she thought it was a fly. She doesn't seem any more bothered in turnout than any of her pasture mates. Her field is scraped regularly. She doesn't run or work herself up over bugs in the pasture and goes out naked happily. I would just like to tone down her exuberance to tail swishing, and kicking at flies when people are near her but perhaps she'll just always be thin skinned and sensitive to them.
                    Bolded mine.

                    Ah, well this is quite a bit different than what you initially described in your first post. What you were describing sounded like a horse that couldn't handle bugs, period, and became problematic to handle when she got bothered by them.

                    It seems now like you want her to complain less vocally - which, to be honest, seems A) a bit unfair, and B) a bit unreasonable. I would love for my gelding to not whip me in the face with his tail when I'm picking out his back feet, too, but he's a horse, and flies are irritating, and I sure don't expect him to just stand there and let them bite him for my convenience. If the horse can cope outside and can cope when in work, I'm not sure this is a hill I'd choose to die on.
                    Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #11
                      Abbie.S yes less vocal in that she can't become unsafe near people. My original question is/was do they become thicker skinned or is this a lifetime of red ribbons in her tail...

                      Edited in red
                      Last edited by Against*All*Odds; Aug. 20, 2020, 04:27 PM.

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by S1969 View Post

                        I don't really know what "loose it" means, then. "Loose" as in shake the flies loose? Or "lose it" as in she is losing her mind?

                        I have no issue with a horse being put in a stall as relief from flies. I would question a horse being stalled because they are "losing their mind"....like a time out. But it seems that's not what you mean.

                        If she really only has issues on cross-ties, then I'd just be more proactive about fly control in the barn - I used to spray the floor with a dilution of Pine-Sol to help keep flies down in the aisle. My horses have far more issues in the pasture and will sometimes gallop to the gate when they are bad - that's a dangerous situation I don't like but don't have a lot of control over other than just turn them out later.
                        Interesting about pin-sol. I wonder if my BO would mind this. Does it leave a residue at all? any allergy concerns for other boarders/ horses?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Curious if she had these reactions (to bugs or to the chain) before she was "sacked out" by the trainer. Traditional sacking out is an outdated training method, that can cause hypersensitivity...or can cause sustained helplessness. I remember when I was much younger, I bred a very nice mare, that I handled well, and had good manners: the trainer I sent her to, insisted on getting a reaction from her when "sacking out" and harassed her until he got a reaction...and I got back a spooky, insecure mare. Your horse may have been inadvertently been taught to make extreme reactions to small stimulus.

                          My current mare is truly sensitive (gets lumps and bumps from all bugs, and really hates being brushed.), and she will kick at her tail straps, but she is well trained to stand/not move, and to react within her own space around me. I try to be compassionate to her sensitivities, and she is blanketed, and I don't ride her outside if buggy. I imported her from the US, and it does seem that horses coming from out of province struggle with our local bugs.
                          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post

                            It seems now like you want her to complain less vocally - which, to be honest, seems A) a bit unfair, and B) a bit unreasonable. I would love for my gelding to not whip me in the face with his tail when I'm picking out his back feet, too, but he's a horse, and flies are irritating, and I sure don't expect him to just stand there and let them bite him for my convenience. If the horse can cope outside and can cope when in work, I'm not sure this is a hill I'd choose to die on.
                            This is what I gathered when I first read the post too. I mean she said she put her in the stall to “lose it” not that she put her in the stall so she could scratch the itch.

                            OP if you say “she’s not being safe” in the cross ties that tells me that her reaction must be pretty big meaning the flies are really bothering her. You can’t just expect her to deal and leave her tied and the be upset that she’s ignoring your space... Help her out. Unsnap the cross ties and let her get that itch. If doesn’t mean she’s allowed to plow you over. But if she wants to kick her belly and bit herself and shake? That’s fine. You can’t MAKE them get over something. They just do it on their own. Like CHT said, “sacking out” is an outdated training method.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
                              Interesting about pin-sol. I wonder if my BO would mind this. Does it leave a residue at all? any allergy concerns for other boarders/ horses?
                              I never noticed any residue, but obviously you want it to be diluted. You could also consider a few drops of essential oils. Not sure it helps a ton, but it's cheaper and easier than dousing the aisle with fly spray.

                              As for other horses - well, who knows. There is always a possibility of allergies or sensitivities.

                              How buggy is the barn aisle? I keep my horses at home, and only have a 3 stall barn which has Dutch and aisle doors. So my barn is more open to the outside than traditional barns. I think fans work better, but if you can keep the inside clean (power wash and/or wash aisle floors on occasion) it has to help a little bit too.

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by S1969 View Post

                                I never noticed any residue, but obviously you want it to be diluted. You could also consider a few drops of essential oils. Not sure it helps a ton, but it's cheaper and easier than dousing the aisle with fly spray.

                                As for other horses - well, who knows. There is always a possibility of allergies or sensitivities.

                                How buggy is the barn aisle? I keep my horses at home, and only have a 3 stall barn which has Dutch and aisle doors. So my barn is more open to the outside than traditional barns. I think fans work better, but if you can keep the inside clean (power wash and/or wash aisle floors on occasion) it has to help a little bit too.
                                I don't find the aisle very buggy. That's what is throwing me for a loop.

                                The barn looks like this https://postfarm.ca/our-projects/equ...llery-wrap-308 and there are large floor fans on either side. She is very comfortable with tacking up near the fans but it's been so cold in the evenings here that I feel bad turning them on (for her and for others) we are down to 11C most evenings and the horses haven't much of a coat yet.

                                I don't work at the boarding barn so can't control things like power washing. Its a high quality facility and the place is kept very clean though. I imagine they have pine-sol as it smells clean/ like a cleaner on saturday mornings. I never thought to give a little dusting before bringing her in (she lives out on pasture) but that's a great suggestion.

                                One thing I wonder is it is also a Blue Spruce farm. Could sap from those tress bring a more aggressive fly/ different types of flies?

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Get a box fan and blow it on her during tack up.
                                  lots of fly spray
                                  wait for her to grow up.

                                  Theres not much you can do. Does she get turnout during the day? Sometimes horses don’t learn to deal with flies on their own if they aren’t given day turnout in the summertime.
                                  Lastly, are they regular flies or biting flies? Some of the normal garbage can looking ones actually bite and it HURTS!

                                  Comment

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