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Seperation Anxiety

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  • Seperation Anxiety

    I have an 8 year old mare(lily) who is wonderful, gaited foxtrotter. For the most part she is a doll baby and im sure if she could cuddle up in my lap, she would. However,she spends every day with the other two horses and no matter how sweet she is, the moment they walk away from her, she loses her mind. If I take her off by herself she will give a little resistance until I get her away a bit and then she settles. We are trying to compete with her and one of the others doing obstacle challenges, which she is exceptional at if alone. The moment they even go to compete separately, but still in eye shot of each other, she turns into a devil horse... starts rearing and bucking and pawing. I have been working with her but Im at my end with ideas to break this. .I don't know lots about her but I got the feeling when I got her that she wasn't really put through a lot of training and just left to her own devices in the pasture for a bit....being she is such a lovey friend I hate giving up on her, there has to be a way to deal with this. These tantrums are not resolved through moving her feet and she will try and run over me to get back to her buddy.... now here is the strange part, if I bring her to a competition on her own, she is fine, no problems. I am gonna try a patience poll but really curious if anyone else has faced this type of separation behavior and how to resolve it.

  • #2
    Is it possible for you to pen/ pasture her seperately?


    • #3
      I suggest wandering over to YouTube and watching some of Warwick Schiller's videos on separation anxiety...

      See if you're interested in learning more after that. He has a very active, supportive Facebook group if you have questions, and there is a free trial of his subscription videos if you decide to continue.
      ... and Patrick


      • #4
        Ditto the Warwick Schiller approach. Work them near the "friend horses", rest them away. They quickly learn that the outside world isn't so bad.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tweet View Post
          These tantrums are not resolved through moving her feet and she will try and run over me to get back to her buddy.
          Then I would say this horse needs some serious lessons in groundwork and respect.

          Honestly, I would ignore the "buddy sour" part, because ultimately it does not matter. If I (for example) have asked the horse to yield their hindquarters away from me, then I am not going to stop asking until I get some sort of correct response. It doesn't matter if I'm trying to load her into a trailer, or if she is buddy sour, or if there is a dog barking at her, or a bomb dropping -- I don't care. All I care about if asking the horse to move their hindquarters over.

          Sure, if she's having a bad day, I may "settle" for just one step in the correct direction, before I stop asking and praise her. But I will not stop asking until I get what I want.

          This is how you have to approach it; both on the ground and then in the saddle. If you have asked the horse to do something, it does not matter what is going on around you -- they need to listen and comply with your request.

          If you make the horse focus on your and what you are asking her to do, the rest of the world doesn't matter. She needs to focus on you.

          Originally posted by scruffy the cat View Post
          Ditto the Warwick Schiller approach. Work them near the "friend horses", rest them away. They quickly learn that the outside world isn't so bad.

          Personally, I am not a fan of this method. I don't believe horses understand that they are worked by their buddy and get to rest away from them.

          Again, I just focus on getting the horse to do that task that I have asked them to do. I don't care if we are next to their buddy or a mile away. They should do what I ask, regardless.
          It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Tweet View Post
            ....being she is such a lovey friend I hate giving up on her, there has to be a way to deal with this. These tantrums are not resolved through moving her feet and she will try and run over me to get back to her buddy....
            She is 100% not your friend, she's a 1000 lb prey animal that has ZERO respect for you and is completely capable of putting you in the hospital or worse.

            If you find yourself outside of your comfort zone, or over-horsed here, hire a professional. There is no shame in that.

            Otherwise, separate her from the others, and work her butt. She's not paying attention to you, so you need to give her something to pay attention to. Just moving her feet doesn't do anything. Horses can move their feet all day long and completely zone out on you. Make her change directions, at speed (its hard work). Throw in ground poles (pay attention to your feet). Move her away from you (disengage hips, move shoulders away, back her up). When she focuses in on you and relaxes, let her relax. If she starts wigging out again, work her butt some more.

            Warwick Schiller, Carson James, Clinton Anderson, it doesn't matter which trainer you check out, the ideas are all the same. Make the right thing (relaxing) easy, and the wrong thing (being a PITA) hard (work her butt). Do it often, be consistent, be fair, reward her tries.