Crosstie Chewing (and other irritating behaviors)

This topic contains 37 replies, has 24 voices, and was last updated by  horses2love 1 year, 7 months ago.

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  • BlueRiley Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    I was wondering if people had suggestions for how to stop some of the “annoying” behaviors that horses do.
    I have a young horse, I’ve had him since he was a foal, and I can not get him to stop chewing on the cross ties.
    I’ve tried punishing him for chewing, i’ve tried rewarding for standing calmly, but no matter what I try (so far) it happens again. Nothing seems to make an impression. It annoys/frustrates me so much it injures our relationship, and kinda gets things off to a bad start when I’m grooming him getting ready to ride.
    He’s a pretty chill, cooperative horse, not high strung or anything, and reasonably intelligent.
    He has other little irritating behaviors, but this is the main one and I would love to fix it, or find a way to relax about it so grooming time can be more fun and relaxing for both of us.
    Any suggestions for how I can get him to stop? Or an appropriate way to redirect him?

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    How old is he? If young enough, it could be that he is teething, losing caps, or breaking in adult molars….
    Or
    If older(any age) it could be a subtle anxiety thing. Many “chill” appearing horses (not ALL, sme are genuinely ok with all things) are actually internalizers, keeping the intensity of how they really feel to themselves so as not to alert a “predatour” to his concern. Instead of wanting to clearly run away, they fuss and fidget in place.

    Perhaps shorter grooming sessions, or less time on crossties might help a bit?

    Just thoughts, hoping you can find something useful in it. Good,luck, BlueRiley!

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    MHBTAvatar
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 31

    We had a 3 year old with crossties hung near his stall’s ‘head hangy-outy door’ for a while and they were in need of constant repair! He couldn’t resist playing with them – – just a playful baby.

    Assuming you’ve ruled out his chewing as the result of a teething or anxiety-driven problem as Pheets suggests, have you tried spraying an equine ‘no chew’ remedy on your cross ties to dissuade him? It won’t get to the root of anything but it might help you preserve them. I can’t really recommend one in particular since it’s not a problem I’ve really had, but I know several safe, non-toxic options are available.

    If he’s just being a baby and in need of entertainment while on the cross ties, something as simple as a small towel or washcloth tucked under his halter’s noseband, or a short grab strap (chew strap??) on that chin ring to flap around may provide him with some short term distraction.

    Good luck 🙂

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Do you ‘need’ to be in crossties to groom? Perhaps groom when he is eating a flake of hay or just tied? Try crosstying after mealtime when he’d likely be taking a morning nap, start with short intervals and work into longer times? (Regardless of when my vet or farriers are coming, I feed a little bit of grain – 1/4c. – and some hay so they aren’t hungry in the ties – they usually fall asleep – my horses might fidget if hungry.) Sometimes the habit will follow the behavior over time. Play calm music, or sing to him, lowly. Whisper his name and say nice things.

    Grooming tip: Slow brush not brisk brush if the horse is jittery. Start at the neck just behind the ear and use gentle pressure and move slowly down the neck, like a massage with a softer brush. Do everything with an even rhythm. Use slow music, or talk to him in a low voice. Mix a little massage with the brushing until that neck lowers and the ears relax, stay on the neck and withers. Stroke the cheek. Easy does it. Then move to the back, keeping a nice slow rhythm. You can do anything to a horse if you’ve got rhythm. Belly, face, and sensitive areas last and only if completely calm.

    Mark Rashid recommends that the energy of rider + energy of horse = 10. If your horse is a 9 when he goes into the cross ties, you should be at a 1 – as low as possible. Barely moving. Low voice. Gentle pressure. If he’s a 5 then you can be a 5, but if he’s anything over that, you should reduce your energy. This rule works even better in the saddle.

    Hope it helps.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    In addition to everyone else, some horses are just mouthy. My friend’s horse will take the straw out of her cup, take the hose nozzle in his mouth, pick up a chainsaw and move it to somewhere else, etc. As suggested, finding him some toy to keep him occupied and limit the time in crossties could help. The Adagio from Franck’s Symphony in D minor should relax him a lot, and when you want him lively, try the 1812 Overture. Most horses are very responsive to music.

    It is never the horse's fault

    BlueRiley Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    He’s 5, I think it’s probably a combination of young, bored, hungry, fidgety etc. I like the riders energy + horses energy, that’s very interesting, thank you Mapale.

    Avatar I have tried No-chew, I usually keep some in my groom box, and it does help, but it doesn’t solve it.

    Joe-Joe, he definitely gets into everything! If I pause for a moment while mounting he’s over nosing the pictures on the wall, or chewing on the plants. It’s actually quite comical, when I’m not feeling frustrated. Id be cool to channel it to train him to pick up stuff, like a dropped whip.
    That’s a really interesting idea with music, I may try that, I frequently have the barn to myself so I won’t be bothering anybody, and I certainly enjoy music while I work.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Blue – I got my horse his own two MP3 players – one for riding music and one for “please stop that and settle yourself” music. It has helped a lot. Yours is not only very young, he wants to keep his brain occcupied. And his mouth. At least he isn’t sticking his head in the trash cans to see if someone threw away something he thinks he would like to have! Or, is he? With instrumental music, you could sing the words for what you are doing while it plays, so he is also aware of why he is standing there. It is a good thing that non-horse people won’t be reading some of the strange things we do to make our horses happy.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    BlueRiley,
    The curious types are usually the really smart types, too. All horses have quirks – some worse than others. Usually it’s about choosing our battles. I don’t like to have disagreements before I ride because it means more disagreements when we ride, so I “cheat” and don’t put either of my horses into a position where a disagreement might happen. If I have to scold over something, I follow with a lot of positive reinforcement by asking for something my horses will reliably do, and treating them for it. Keeping things positive in your horse’s mind is a reward to him, and he’ll want to keep things positive, too. I’ll bet you have a real gem there who is a fast-learner and if he’s nervous it’s because he worries about pleasing you.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    MysticsMom MysticsMom
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    I too have a mouthy gelding (he’s 8, going on 2) and I just try to keep him away from situations where he can get his mouth on something (but it’s REALLY hard!). When he is really rude, I try to balance the negative (tap on the side of the nose/lips to make him drop whatever it is) with the positive when the behavior stops (scratch his forehead, hug his neck, anything away from the nose/mouth). BUT… I’m also trying to break my husband of the habit of hand feeding him and “playing” with his mouth, as both of those activities seem to make his mouthiness worse (go figure!). Do you have a similar enabler in the barn? I’ve actually had more success correcting the horse than I’ve had with changing my husband’s behaviors!

    Cheval Noir Cheval Noir
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Can you sew?

    I got a 25′ nylon longe line and two 8″ lengths of chain from the feed store. I made 2 cross ties with chains on the ends and put double ended snaps on the ends. Voila. No more chewed cross ties. The mouthy ones won’t chew on the chain.

    I have 2 sets of cross ties in one spot; one for the mouthy ones and one for the patient ones. The only drawback to the ones with chains on the ends is that ducking under them when you’re grooming, etc., you can get whacked in the head. But it’s a small price to pay for not having to have chewed cross ties, and breaking the habit of chewing them by the mouthy ones.

    It occurred to me that you could probably put the 8″ length of chain on the ends of the cross ties and shorten them up where they connect to the wall. That would work.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Cheval Noir Cheval Noir.
    Dano
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 21

    Just thoughts, but have you tried teaching him to ground tie (takes time) or just straight tie him? I agree with the suggestion that it could be nervous energy. I have a horse that is a little claustrophobic and it is actually part of their instinct to not be comfortable restrained and not able to turn around and see behind for potential predators.

    Is he mouthy about other things? If so, you know you have a safety concern if others hand feed him since using teeth could come next. I had to remind others not to feed my horse and gently rub his upper lip to discourage using teeth, say “no”. It did not take long for him to learn better manners and never use teeth on people.

    If all else fails, I have had good success keeping a horse from chewing on leg wraps with Bitter Apple spray. I have also used it in desperation on a turnout sheet in a place that pasture mates seemed to be biting/tearing the same place on my middle of the pecking order gelding. You could try it on the places he nibbles on cross ties as long as others are aware it is there. You would need to wash your hands so he does not get it on his treat!

    Dano
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 21

    Cheval Noir’s idea is also great. I like the snaps that automatically release if there is a certain amount of pressure, at least on one side of ties. There are risks in cross ties if a horse panics, it might be less injured if something goes wrong.

    Cheval Noir Cheval Noir
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Any cross ties can be made to “automatically release.” It’s a basic in Pony Club. Attach any cross ties with baling twine. No broken halters, no danger, and the barn doesn’t fall down.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Cheval, where do you live? And how much do your hay bales weigh? I’m asking because our bailing twine seems too sturdy to break!

    Blue Riley, I had a mouthy ASB gelding once that did exactly the same thing. If he couldn’t chew on his leadrope he’d find something else. I would second the advice to use chains to attach to his halter–I wish I’d thought of that when I owned him! Also, can you raise the height of the crossties? If you can attach them higher up on the wall (assuming that you’re grooming him in his stall or the barn aisle), he shouldn’t be able to grab the ties in the first place.

    Cheval Noir Cheval Noir
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 10

    Sisal baling twine is, well, a standard. And even though you can’t break it, it’ll break when a 1000# horse decides he doesn’t want to be cross tied. LOL! When you think about it, they have to AGREE to stand there for us. It’s a matter of training. And you have to pick your battles.

    If you shorten the cross ties they will freak out because there’s no room to breathe. Just put chains on the ends and tie them with baling twine and pick a different battle.

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