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Scary things to put in stalls

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  • Scary things to put in stalls

    I put a milk jug in my half-Arab's stall today. He's terrified of it and the baling twine it's hung on. It's actually pretty funny - he keeps forgetting it's there and freaking himself out again.

    I want more scary things/toys to put in his stall so he (a) gets used to them and (b) spends more time playing with them and less time stallwalking.

    Any suggestions, besides milk jug and Jolly ball?

  • #2
    Have you seen those maybe 12" long triangular colorful flags on strings car dealerships have strung out in their parking lots?

    Those sell very cheap and once we bought several strings of them and added them to our horse pens.

    No horse ever looked at them, other than to chew on them, even when they were really flopping around in the wind.

    We have plastic strips in front of their sheds in the winter, to keep wrap around snow from blowing in there and we have yet to see a horse be scared of them, most love to stand there when the wind whips them onto their backs, as a handy back scratcher, maybe?

    You could try something like that.

    If your horse is really scared, I would not leave that there, but put it where he will not scare, find it interesting.

    You could maybe lead him around with someone else dragging that plastic bottle, so he thinks it is walking off, scared of him and eventually he should want to touch and investigate it.
    Once he is familiar with it, put it where it is not alarming him and slowly get it back to hanging where previously it was scaring him, that by now he should not care.

    You want to desensitize him to scary things, not sensitize him and make him even more jumpy and reactive to stuff around him.

    Comment


    • #3
      We take a 2x4 and staple fake flowers to it and put them on the ground right in front of the feed tubs. None of my horse stop at flowers in front of jumps when they grow up.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't think you should put anything in there. I want my horse's stables to be their safe place.
        Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          I'd just like to get one thing clear before I get jumped on by the forum police.

          I am of the opinion that it is natural for a horse to be scared of things - especially a naturally reactive horse like mine. I don't punish fear, unless I can reasonably expect the horse to not be afraid. Things like barking dogs, opening umbrellas, and sudden and loud noises justify a fear reaction.

          Baling twine does not. A milk jug does not. A new does not have to be scary just because it's new, which is what my horse seems to think.

          He's the inquisitive type, which I think is excellent. I put the milk jug in a place where he isn't forced to interact with it (it's hung on a stall wall instead of from the rafters) so he can investigate it at his own pace.

          Kookicat, to specifically address the issue of "safe place," I would never put him, or any other horse, in actual danger in his stall. Nor would I introduce something I thought was justifiably scary (see above) in a stall. However, a milk jug is not dangerous, doesn't move, and won't hurt him in any way. I think it's safe, physically and psychologically, because he can't really have a bad experience with it.

          Thank you for all your suggestions!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by kookicat View Post
            I don't think you should put anything in there. I want my horse's stables to be their safe place.
            I agree - putting scary stuff in the stall does not make for a happy horse. Put scary stuff in the arena so they have to come across things, not where they sleep. I think it is a form of torture.

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            • #7
              What about a rutabaga? Just drill a hole through the middle and hang it on a rope! They usually munch on it too. Not being snarky at all but stallwalking usually results from stress (stress due to many factors including boredom), and it would be interesting to know if your horse increases stall walking in response to a novel object or if having an object decreases his boredom and attenuates the stall walking.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm in the camp that a horse should feel safe in his stall so don't go putting scary stuff in there. Horses lack the ability to generalize so that scary thing he got used to having in his stall is still probably going to freak him out when he sees it somewhere else.
                "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Something that scared the heck out of me once was an IV station; I worked in an equine vet hospital. This little horse came in for a surgery and was off his IV but the techs still had it hanging from the center of the stall in case he needed them again, first day off. He had his halter on in the stall b/c he was eating shavings so he was wearing a grazing muzzle and he was just a young bored colt... so he started playing with that IV station and sure as sh!! he hooked his collar on it and ended up flailing around like a trout on the line! LOL Cleared the exam rooms while everyone ran to disconnect him... So that was scary to me but until that point it wasn't scary to him.
                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Maybe I used the wrong word in the title. After reflection, I guess I want "thought-provoking" items to put in his stall - items that for the first five or ten minutes will be scary, but will then become toys.

                    Example: the three-year-old next to him has a Jolly ball strung up on the adjoining stall wall. Before my horse was moved where he is now, the three-year-old shared the Jolly ball with the Appaloosa who used to live in the stall. My horse did not approve of the ball when he first moved in. He had to be taught to play with it, and now enjoys it.

                    Was it scary? Yes - moreso than the milk jug because the Jolly ball moves. Did he get over it? Absolutely.

                    I understand that this isn't a completely standard form of training. I understand that there are reasons not to do it. But I think torture is over-the-top.

                    A rutabaga is a great idea. Next time I go to the grocery store, I'll pick one up.

                    Here's my reasoning behind "horse is bored, therefore stall walking:"

                    1. He likes to be doing something. He doesn't like standing still in the cross ties, in the arena, in his stall, anywhere.

                    2. He is bred half the same as another horse in the barn whose stallwalking problem was helped by toys.

                    3. He doesn't stallwalk when there's something to do or look at.

                    EDIT: I posted too soon.

                    In my experience, and in the experience of Paul McGreevy and Andrew McLean in their book Equitation Science, horses can generalize. It's the whole line of thought behind controlled desensitization.

                    My horse doesn't wear his halter in his stall, and his jug is tied up such that there is very little to be caught on, and it's tied up with baling twine, so even if he did manage it, he could break it himself.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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 because it seems to make their brain think they have a herd mate with them. Haven't tried it but would be simple enough to try. I have also heard the same thing can be done to sooth horses that don't like to trailer alone.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "Things like barking dogs, opening umbrellas, and sudden and loud noises justify a fear reaction.
                        Baling twine does not. A milk jug does not. A new does not have to be scary just because it's new, which is what my horse seems to think."

                        I don't get your reasoning??? To YOU, there are not scary items, but your HORSE is clearly telling you that they are. Listen to him.

                        Now, if you want to help him become braver, there are ways to do that (having him follow the "scary" thing, watch other horses play with it - as you have observed, etc.) I am not a big fan of the "flooding" method myself. So why not teach your horse to enjoy playing with a cone, jolly ball, milk jug, etc and THEN put them in his stall for a bit.
                        You could also try one of these:
                        http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=16270
                        or this:
                        http://nose-it.com/
                        or a small hole hay net.
                        Does your horse need to be in a stall for some reason?
                        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bravestrom View Post
                          I agree - putting scary stuff in the stall does not make for a happy horse. Put scary stuff in the arena so they have to come across things, not where they sleep. I think it is a form of torture.
                          Like, totally what Bravestrom has said.

                          I just do not see the "funny" in putting something scary in a stall. Very sad imo.

                          What ever you are scared of, would you like it better if it was in your bedroom all the time? Take into consideration how large a horse is in a 12x12 stall. Seems like doing this fun project would make the horse have issues about entering a stall.

                          I know how about one of those tall gumby wavvy 25-30' blow up things they have out side of car dealers ships, and other places wanting your attention? That would be "funny" no doubt. Just make sure you get it on video so we can all see!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            He's got five other horses in plain view - I think the mirror might be a little redundant

                            Here's my reasoning behind should be scary vs. not scary. The horse is overreacting. If he gave the same response to a barking dog, an umbrella, or a noise, I would have no problems with him. The problem lies in the fact that he is scared of an object that doesn't move, won't hurt him, and is an expected part of living.

                            Following the scary thing becomes more scary because it moves. It might not be the same with your horse or your training methods, but I prefer getting the horse used to a motionless object before it starts exhibiting predatory behavior - i.e., moving toward them.

                            Flooding can be effective, if done correctly, which is difficult to do. I don't attempt it. The horse is completely able to never touch or come close to the jug without too much stress on him. He's not being overstimulated. I watched him for a few minutes to make sure the presence of the jug would not make him stand in a corner and tremble. It's only when he forgets about it and suddenly remembers than he is scared of it.

                            He needs to be stalled because there isn't any turnout where I board. There's no need to attack me for that; I know the problems associated and I've considered my other boarding options. He will remain in his stall.

                            I fear nothing Kidding. If you put an axe murderer in my bedroom, I would kick and scream and claw to get out of there. If you put a picture of a spider in my room - something I don't like and would prefer not to see on a daily basis - I would scare myself the first few times, then start remembering its presence and becoming desensitized to it.

                            Which is why I do not and would never put a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man anywhere near my horse's stall - too aggressively scary. I'm aiming more for passive scary.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What is this, troll weekend?
                              ************************
                              \"Horses lend us the wings we lack\"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Scary things to put in stalls ...daddy she will not eat much and I will take care of her for ever and ever.... next week daughter moves off to college, finishes five years of college then goes to work as a teacher, spends two years teaching then off to another adventure.... scary four legged thing is still here

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by deltatime View Post
                                  He's got five other horses in plain view - I think the mirror might be a little redundant

                                  Here's my reasoning behind should be scary vs. not scary. The horse is overreacting. If he gave the same response to a barking dog, an umbrella, or a noise, I would have no problems with him. The problem lies in the fact that he is scared of an object that doesn't move, won't hurt him, and is an expected part of living.

                                  Following the scary thing becomes more scary because it moves. It might not be the same with your horse or your training methods, but I prefer getting the horse used to a motionless object before it starts exhibiting predatory behavior - i.e., moving toward them.

                                  Flooding can be effective, if done correctly, which is difficult to do. I don't attempt it. The horse is completely able to never touch or come close to the jug without too much stress on him. He's not being overstimulated. I watched him for a few minutes to make sure the presence of the jug would not make him stand in a corner and tremble. It's only when he forgets about it and suddenly remembers than he is scared of it.

                                  He needs to be stalled because there isn't any turnout where I board. There's no need to attack me for that; I know the problems associated and I've considered my other boarding options. He will remain in his stall.

                                  I fear nothing Kidding. If you put an axe murderer in my bedroom, I would kick and scream and claw to get out of there. If you put a picture of a spider in my room - something I don't like and would prefer not to see on a daily basis - I would scare myself the first few times, then start remembering its presence and becoming desensitized to it.

                                  Which is why I do not and would never put a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man anywhere near my horse's stall - too aggressively scary. I'm aiming more for passive scary.
                                  No, you don't have the bottle follow your horse, you have the horse follow the scary object.
                                  Works great with horses, dogs, cattle, it is standard in most training, one more tool in the trainer's box.

                                  We have done that with a crinkly feed sack, that was scaring a horse to death just standing there by the trash can.
                                  Someone picked it up and walked off half dragging it and the horse started following it and ended up sticking it's nose in it, once it realized it smelled like food.

                                  If we had just tried to make the horse approach that sack as it stood there, poor horse would have had a meltdown.

                                  Now, you know your horse, he may just not be wired like that, it was just a suggestion.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Try a week of gastrogard and free choice hay.
                                    McDowell Racing Stables

                                    Home Away From Home

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      ha ha. Trolls. They are out.

                                      But to a horse they do not know the difference between an ax wielding person, a spider and one of those tall gumby wavvy 25-30' blow up things they have out side of car dealers ships, and other places wanting your attention in their bedroom. You are not a horse, and you do not think like a horse.

                                      I think you should find a boarding place or better yet BUY your own place so your horse can have as much pasture time as he needs. That way he will quit stall walking and other vices. Your horse needs 100% turnout.

                                      Hey I know how about a pig! Yeah a pig. Do a search here on COTH and find the thread on the lady who has a horse who is scared of pigs. You need a pig, that will certainly funny. ?

                                      When my horses come in to their stalls, they snooze, stand under the fans (summer) listen to soft rock music, and eat. Then they go out. In the pasture.

                                      I think your approach to training is ummm, suspect of not a good way to go about it.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Oh, okay! I understand how that would work - that's how my last horse understood lunge whips weren't going to kill her. Unfortunately, I don't think the current horse would take too kindly to it.

                                        I'll give the gastroguard a try. Do you mean pellets or the tube stuff? He gets a lot of hay, but not free choice because of the hay prices around here and because he tends to walk it all around his stall and not eat it.

                                        I expect my horse to know the difference between a milk jug and a wacky waving tube man and respond accordingly. I've spent enough time around horses to opine on their mental state, based on my rationally based perception. 99% of COTHers can do the same.

                                        I'd rather not get into the reasons I prefer to stay at my current boarding place, regardless of turnout. In addition, I'm 18 and while I would love my own place, I have a grand total of $600 in the bank and no job. If you tell me where to buy enough nice pasture to sustain one horse all year for $600 or less, I'd be all over that idea.

                                        My trainer has seen good results, as have I. There are many different ways to succeed, and I'm sure your methods work well for you. As it happens, mine work well for me.

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