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Scary things to put in stalls

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  • #21
    I'll try to sympathize, but the bottom line is that YOU NEED TURNOUT NOW. Your horse is bored to death. Scaring him isn't going to help, he's going to use all his extra energy and freak himself out. I'd say it's much more likely he'll be less spooky once he can be turned out 8+ hours a day.


    • #22
      I'd just put the stuff in his paddock and he can let his own natural curiosity take over.

      My own horses don't care at all if there is plastic on the ground, plastic
      hung in the doorway, balls, rattly things, umbrellas, hoses; they are just so used to stuff.
      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


      • #23
        Originally posted by Ponyclubrocks View Post
        Since your real concern is the stall walking, I have read that placing a (non glass) mirror in a stall can stop certain behaviors like stall walking...
        I've seen someone use a mirror successfully on a weaver. It calmed him down so well!
        Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


        • #24
          One of my horses is very looky looky so I routinely put a tarp, empty paper feed sacks or whatever interesting stuff I find in her stall that she is free to come and go from. I have used pool noodles and a shower curtain liner on the stall door leading to the outside to desensitize her sides to stuff brushing up on her. In her turn out area I put treats on the weird things so that her curiosity is rewarded when I am not there. These things have made a huge improvement in reducing her sensitivity. Good luck!


          • #25
            Deltatime, your horse is not 'over-reacting'. Your horse is simply being A HORSE. If that bothers you, either get a less sensitive and reactive horse, or get out of horses completely.

            A stall toy is supposed to be exactly that, something entertaining. Something that scares the horse = epic FAIL. If your horse does not already have a small hole hay net, hang one of those. Nibbling almost constantly should help with decreasing the stall-walking. I agree also more turnout time should help.
            Last edited by sdlbredfan; Mar. 10, 2013, 10:44 PM. Reason: typo
            RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


            • Original Poster

              I would love to put him out 8 hours a day. In the best of all possible worlds, I'd have the same barn with the same people, but with 20 more acres of turnout space. Unfortunately, that's not possible. There is a 0% chance he will get more turnout.

              I agree - he is bored to death. That's why I'm trying to give him something to do. I can't reduce his bored stall time if he's afraid of toys. I'll see about a small hole hay net.

              We'll work up to tarps and feed sacks - at the moment I think those would overwhelm him, since they're too big to really be avoided. That's the kind of thing I wouldn't put in a stall before ensuring the horse is at least 75% okay with it in the arena.

              I see snorting and looking altogether like a halter horse being set up as a bit of an overreaction to a plastic thing in a stall. Of course, I'm of the school of thought that horses sometimes need to work things out for themselves through their own, unguided, trial and error.

              His other stall toy - as previously mentioned - was just as scary to start with.

              I'm really sorry for my somewhat curt tone in this post - I don't mean any disrespect toward anyone or any training methods. It's a little past my bedtime, but I don't want to be drowned in new responses when I wake up.


              • #27
                Originally posted by deltatime View Post

                I'm really sorry for my somewhat curt tone in this post - I don't mean any disrespect toward anyone or any training methods. It's a little past my bedtime, but I don't want to be drowned in new responses when I wake up.
                You do realize you posted this on Coth, don't you? Heh, curt tones from the OP fairly invites drowning.

                What it looks to me like you don't understand is that the stall is not the place to to put scary things. In his stall, he can't move away from the scary thing (not very far). Your horse needs to feel safe from the things which make him anxious in his stall. Its an anxious horse which stall walks. Desensitising your horse from scary things is a good idea, but not in his stall, where he needs to feel safe, if he is to sleep and rest and become non-anxious. Alot of people have given good advice about this. Good luck sorting it out.
                My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


                • #28
                  How about filling the milk jug with treats, suspending it, and leaving the cover off?


                  • #29
                    Short of sleep, Sdlebredfan?
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                    • #30
                      I agree with the small hole nibble net and hope you can find a barn that allows for turnout - even if a rotation for a few hours a day.

                      What your horse is doing is a sign of stress and anxiety.


                      • #31
                        I'm sorry Op, but I immediately thought that that somebody really ought to covertly install one of these in your bathroom
                        Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                        • #32


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by deltatime View Post
                            There is a 0% chance he will get more turnout.

                            Then you're probably not going to see an improvement. Horses are meant to be outside. When they can't get outside, it stresses them. Stress causes anxiety. Anxiety = over-reacting to things, stall walking, etc. You can add all kinds of things to his stall to keep him busy, and it might help a little bit, for a little while, but the root of his problem is probably his innate horsey biological need to be out moving around.

                            Sorry that finances aren't allowing you to move him or find a turnout solution.

                            In the meantime, a slow feeder might help a little bit. Otherwise I would save the desensitizing efforts for in the ring or during training sessions.
                            "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                            My CANTER blog.


                            • #34
                              My mare got scared of camelids a couple of years ago- a herd of alpacas galloped to the fence and because my friend's horse turned inside out, my mare said oh, okay, supposed to be terrified of those.

                              Soon thereafter, an acquaintance gave me a bag of llama fur (I helped out at a Llama Fun Day) and I did two things with that: one, grabbed little balls of that and used it to groom her (after letting her smell and get wide-eyed and then realize no creature came with the smell) and two, placed a bit in a bucket below her manger, in her 'safe' stall. She could, of course, smell it from her stall entrance coming in from run, and at feeding time, she processed the information, decided after maybe 30 seconds that eating was a high priority, and just Got Over It without any undue trauma or perceived violation of 'her safe place.'

                              Next time she met a group of llamas, truly no big deal.

                              To me, it isn't a matter of trying to traumatize them. It's a matter of allowing them to process and cope with change. Even in their stalls.


                              • #35
                                Also, many horses are leery of things ABOVE their head, so try to put your milk jug in a corner of the stall about 1 m high or so.
                                And again, whether you think your horse should or should not be scared of something is irrelevant. Some horses are afraid of rocks, others paper, others bunnies while others are fine with a helicopter landing nearby.
                                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                                • #36
                                  The stalls where my horses are have doors with a big, heavy metal frame and then a sort of chain link fence as the actual door (sturdy, but yes, holes are too small to get a hoof in there!) They were the perfect size to feed pool noodles through so the noodles stick straight out of the wall.

                                  My horses are only in a stall during feeding time, so I would hang up their feed buckets then surround them with noodles so the horse HAS to go through the noodles if they want to eat. They're basically training themselves. Jump away/spook=no food, walk into noodles=hey dinner!! I'm still there to supervise in case someone overreacts, but they get the idea pretty quickly.


                                  • #37
                                    I think I would not own a horse if it was housed in a stall 24/7 except for riding/working them. This horse is never turned out?


                                    • #38
                                      I think the best solution for stallwalking is 24/7 turnout. At least I sure enjoy not mucking out a completely wrecked stall, and the horse usually seems pretty OK about it, too.

                                      Other than that, nibblenets or treat dispensing toys can help. Cut a hole in the milk jug and fill it with strong-smelling treats. Turn the scary thing into a good thing.
                                      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                                      • #39
                                        The drawback to using a plastic milk jug as a treat dispenser is that the plastic edges can be sharp, and could injure the horse. Especially if the horse's face received a cut, that could be a really messy injury.
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                                        • Original Poster

                                          Update on the actual horse: When I came into the barn this afternoon, he had flattened the jug and nibbled on it. Apparently it took him half an hour until he was playing with it. He was calmer during our workout and stood still for fifteen minutes so I could rebraid his mane - something he's been too anxious to do in the past. Now, I know correlation doesn't imply causation, but I'm certainly not going to take away his new favorite toy now.

                                          I know the best way to fix this problem - and practically all stall behavior problems - is turn the horse out. I know turnout is natural and helps 100% of horses. I also know that there is absolutely no way the horse can be moved, for a variety of very personal reasons.

                                          I understand where everyone is coming from. I think your method of training is completely and entirely valid and definitely works for you and your horses. I don't want to offend anyone by pushing my methods, because as they say, there's a million ways to skin a cat.

                                          I see an analogue between a student's locker at a school and my horse's stall. At a school, the administration owns the locker, despite the student's stuff being in it, and can do whatever it wants to the locker. My horse occupies his stall, but it is not solely his space.

                                          A toilet seat prank? Now THAT is something I would videotape.