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Horse is WAAAAY too buddy-bound. What to do?

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  • Horse is WAAAAY too buddy-bound. What to do?

    It's not my horse-- mine is the buddy. But it's causing problems for me too.

    Friend and I board at the same barn; our horse's stalls are right next to each other. (This works out very conveniently for us, as we share stall-cleaning duties and we have tack storage right by our stalls.) Our horses were previously boarded together at the same farm but weren't in the same turnout group there; we moved to this barn together at the beginning of the summer, and our horses are now in the same turnout group. There are 5 geldings in their group-- our two, two other horses and an ancient donkey. In their group, friend's horse is bonded to mine and one of the two other geldings. The horses are turned out daily from about 8am-4pm, in a good-sized grass pasture. Barn is low-key boarding barn, about 25 horses total.

    Friend's horse is a 22-year old OTTB. You would never guess his age by how he looks/acts; he behaves more like a 3-year old, to the point where he often needs a chain to be led to/from turnout. I wouldn't call him "spooky," just completely energetic, jigging at the end of the lead, etc.; the instant he's unhaltered in pasture, he immediately sets off at a gallop and races around the field, far more than any of his buddies.

    The problem happens whenever he's separated from MY horse, his neighbor/pasturemate. If I go to the barn and his group is out, friend's horse is basically ok if I fetch my horse to ride, other than the occasional whinny while we're gone (more of a scream than a whinny, but at least he's not tearing around the pasture.) But if friend's horse goes out WITHOUT mine, forget it-- he paces at the gate, screams nonstop and basically works himself into a tizzy, even though he's NOT alone-- he has 3 other horses with him, including one good friend.

    He's even worse IN the barn if he's separated from my horse. Our two stalls are the only ones attached to a small paddock, so their stalls both have doors that open to said paddock; it's too small for "turnout" but it's super-convenient to throw them out there while we're cleaning our stalls. If my horse goes into the paddock, even if friend's horse can plainly see him AND touch noses, friend's horse has a fit, runs circles in his stall, etc. If my horse is truly out of sight--i.e., friend puts her horse in crossties by the tack room-- he goes into a total meltdown. Pawing, screaming, threatening to bolt/flip, the whole 9 yards. Within 15 minutes he is literally DRIPPING with sweat and has pooped so much, it looks like a wheelbarrow overturned.

    Friend, understandably, is so frustrated she is near tears every time she has to handle her horse. She hasn't really ridden him for over a month, mainly because he's been getting to be more and more of a jerk with this behavior; she tried to longe him today and he was so hysterical, he slipped and fell on the circle.

    He's 100% fine, as long as he's with his pal (my horse); if they're separated, he completely loses his marbles.

    He's currently being fed a 12% pelleted feed, 3 lbs 2x/day, plus 1/2C Amplify 1x/day, plus grazing during the day and unlimited hay overnight; he usually has some left in the morning. Vet floated his teeth a couple months ago. Friend plans to stop the Amplify, cut his feed back to 2lbs/feeding, and start him on a calming supp, either SmartCalm or Magnesium.

    He was fed the same feed and same quantity at our last barn; he was never like this before. I have no idea what flipped for him... by all regards this barn is much better than the last place-- twice as much turnout time, bigger/better pastures, bigger/airier stalls, etc. But now, all of a sudden, he's gone wacko.

    I've urged her to try to work with him more, but her schedule is tight (f/t college student + working p/t) and she's getting scared of him. At this point his behavior is getting so unmanageable, it's bordering on dangerous; I suggested today that she might want to call the vet. I also think we need to talk to the barn management about switching their turnout group so they're separated, at least during the day. (Neither of us wants to move stalls unless absolutely necessary; we have the kind-of "prime" stalls in the barn.)

    If he was mine, I'd tie him in his stall and let him figure it out (watching from somewhere so I could make sure he wouldn't hurt himself)... Short of that, cutting back on the feed, and switching their turnout groups, are there any other suggestions? he's a freaking basketcase, and I feel awful for my friend-- her barn time is now super-stressful.
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

  • #2
    this horse also screamed and ran over people due to lack of respect.



    • #3
      I have had to deal with this and the only way I know to accomplish a change is to separate them. They need to be stalled as far away from each other as you can get them and the same for turnout. It will be tough for a day or two but they will adjust. It may be less than ideal for the work sharing stuff, but it is the only solution that I know of that works.


      • #4
        My nut bar filly is like this if I don't work with her regularly AND any time her routine changes. She just isn't that adaptable.

        Has your friend considered trying an anti-anxiety/calming suppliment until he makes the adjustment to the new facility and/or her schedule allows her to spend more time with him?

        With my filly I have established a bit of a calm down routine/massage/TTouch system to help her reconnect with me and the real world, but if this gelding is stuck in a cycle of anxiety, he may need some additional help so he can rejoin the world of the rational. TTouch might be worth looking into as well though. Doesn't take that much time and may be something your friend may enjoy with her limited time as much as the horse might benefit from it.
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          First ask the BO to separate them for turnout. Give that a couple of weeks and see what happens. If that doesn't sort it, then ask for their stalls to also be separated.

          My guy is totally herd bound just now and it is taking consistent work with his buddy stuck in the round pen, and me riding out of sight, spinning all the time, to get him over this. If she gives up, it won't get better. It should get better quite quickly by separating them and regular work.


          • #6
            Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
            this horse also screamed and ran over people due to lack of respect.

            Do you have the link to the video of the 2nd 5 minutes???
            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


            • #7
              The only way to fix it is to separate them permanently. You may be able to keep them stalled next to each other provided they are not turned out next to each other.
              McDowell Racing Stables

              Home Away From Home


              • #8
                Originally posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
                Do you have the link to the video of the 2nd 5 minutes???
                here is the second clip


                here is what the stud turns out like



                • #9
                  Agree, separating them is the way to go. A middle-aged OTTB gelding I used to lease was the herd bound buddy, he was WAY overly attached to the elderly OTTB gelding in the stall next to him. They were turned out individually, but in adjacent paddocks. It was really getting bad, the younger gelding was fine if you took him out of the barn or paddock and left the buddy out, but if the buddy was the one leaving he lost his mind. Screaming, running, kicking his stall or trying to climb the turnout fence, working up a huge sweat, just hysterical with anxiety...

                  Younger gelding's owner moved him to another barn (for unrelated reasons) and we were worried that he'd either: 1) miss his buddy and be even more insecure or 2) attach to a new buddy and continue the buddy bound behavior. Neither happened, he forgot about buddy as soon as he left, became much more relaxed in general and did not choose a replacement buddy at the new barn.

                  Now, the situation does not justify moving barns , but I'd try moving stalls and turning them out with another paddock between them if possible. Or, start with turnout and then do the stall move too, if that isn't enough.


                  • #10
                    One of the things I like about Warwick is that he's never, ever forceful. Rather than use excessive equipment or racking on their face, he lets them move their feet. For a horse who is anxious, I think moving their feet, rather than standing still, helps to release that tension. He has a whole series of videos, and another more advanced and complete set that you can subscribe to for like $25 a month. I did subscribe for two months and watch some vids on clipping, getting obedience and attention with other horses and stuff like that.


                    • Original Poster

                      I talked to Friend this morning; it sounds like she's talked to BM and plans are in the works to separate them in turnout. Fortunately the property is such that he MAY be able to go out in a new group that's on the other side of the farm, completely out of sight from his buddy (my horse). In my thinking, that's the best solution in terms of turnout.

                      As for his psychotic behavior in the crossties, that's (maybe) another matter. The farrier is supposed to be out today; I'm curious to hear how that goes.
                      *friend of bar.ka

                      "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"


                      • #12
                        I like what threedogpack suggested.

                        I had a mare that I had bought as a 3 year old who had nervous tendencies. She had 90 days u/s, but they hadn't put that much ground work into her. She would drag you into her stall, throw her shoulder into you etc. Basically, did not care where you were.

                        I spent hours upon hours on round pen and ground work with her. Did a lot of join up (or hook up) type of work. I sold her earlier last year and could easily free lunge her in a large arena and she would go around in a nice little circle and went off of just my body language.

                        She never settled down and retained the nervous tendencies, but by the time I sold her (had her for 6-7 years), she was 100x better on the ground than she had been when I purchased her.

                        She was also one of those horses that was far better behaved u/s then on the ground.

                        ETA: She also had a hard time behaving in the cross ties (pawing, screaming, going backwards/forwards etc though not as bad as your friends horse). Ground work helped, but I found the only thing that really calmed her down was consistent work. The fall before I sold her, I had worked her up to riding 2 hours a day (one day a week off). Most of that work was t/c.
                        The Sempiternal Horse


                        • #13
                          I agree, the only solution is to separate them. He's probably the way he is because your horse is the only 'familiar' thing that came with him from his old life.

                          I have hs twin. Inky goes ballistic when I take Rico out to ride. Screams, paces, kicks and rolls in his stall, works himself up to a full body sweat, but he's fine if he is the one being 'taken away'. Up until now, I've just 'ignored' it and let him have his tantrum, but now that its getting cold, I have to find another solution, because I can't turn him out in a full body sweat in 30 degree temps and I don't have time to cool him out. In the past just putting them in separate turnouts for a few hours a day helped a little bit, but with only 2 horses at home, I've accepted that is is something I just have to deal with.
                          Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                          Witherun Farm


                          • #14
                            I had a gelding that was every bit as bad as your friend's horse. To the point where he'd bolt towards his buddy whenever he was outside, even when he was under saddle.
                            I sold him. The behavior made me SO ANGRY that I knew I wouldn't have the patience to work him through it.
                            Click here for the Roxie blog!


                            • #15
                              Separating them is the only way I know of to fix it; and he may have a fit for a few days until he is 'weaned'.