Horses that can't handle 2 minutes alone

This topic contains 13 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Cindy 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • horse-companion Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 8

    My mare throwings herself against the wall and turns into a dragon if I bring her into the stables alone when I want to get her ready to ride. I’ve tried everything to train her to be alone for a short while. Yes I know horses are flock animals but she is to the extreme. Any tips?

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

    My mare also suffers from what, in dogs, would be called separation anxiety. I have put her on Mare Magic, and seen a considerable improvement. It takes a week or two to take effect. You could also get her an MP3 player, which helped my gelding a lot. Just wear it on yourself, sing to her, and engage her attention.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Hmm… Agreed; a separation anxiety sort of thing or possibly confinement issues, Can she see other horses when she is separate? Can you prepare for riding somewhere where she CAN see other horses if not?

    First step to any solution is to try to determine the cause of any behaviour. Once you’ve figured out what the problem is, then a creative mind can start to sort it out.

    Less is more usually, ‘specially with horses it seems. Short but frequent periods of time away, lots of positive reinforcement (a fave brush, scratch, activity, song, even the occasional cookie if you are inclined..) Keep her busy with small, easy requests such as step over, back, the other way, back this way again, back step, head up, head down, give right foot, left, stretching exercises (validates the cookies : ), etc. Short, easy, calm but BUSY. This will NOT teach her to be mobile on cross-ties, as she should be allowed one step in any direction anyway (IMO) but it might keep her occupied just enough to get started.

    Maybe not as often an issue but equally influential, The Ride, itself. Make the ride nice, too. Be sure that everything fits well (saddle, bridle, bit, saddle pad), and that she gets to relax here and there while under saddle. All rides involve some sort of training, intended or not, so be mindful of your under saddle activities and her attitude during those moments. Find something (correct) that she likes and use that as a reward for proper effort and response, tho the BEST reward AFTER riding is to GET OFF… Some days, just go out there and fuss over her withOUT riding.

    If it were me, I would try to keep her focus on me and my requests. Change it up often and keep grooming sessions shorter for a while. Might need to relocate your grooming station temporarily to where she is away but can still see family.

    Good luck with this, let patience rule. Nothing more time consuming than rousting with a busy horse when you don’t have time : D

    None of this is will solve World Peace but, depending on the actual cause of her anxiety, it can help determine what her issue really is, then a positive and effective solution might be clearer.

    Stay safe, HC!

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

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    I’ve known people like this, too. HC, welcome to the forum and I love your Swedish horse icon. How long have you had your mare?

    I agree with Pheets to change your grooming station to a place where she can see herd mates and make your sessions very interactive. I prefer to keep things routine for my horses so they anticipate the next move, knowing what comes next is calming for a horse, and since they have the second longest memory in the animal kingdom, they like the challenge of using it. Also, I’m always singing or talking, singing if there is a lot going on around us because the rhythm is soothing. If your horse gets bored easily, varying the routine may work best for her. Try it both ways and see which gives you the best results.

    My horses tend to get excited at the trailhead where several strange horses/horse trailers/horse smells abound, so I have the reverse issue when trying to groom before a ride. Mine get distracted in a crowd and are busily trying to see the other horses. Unless I stick to a strict routine that moves quickly, their minds wander. The most important part of working in, on, or around horses is that they are paying attention to where you are and what you are doing and respect your space. A distracted horse is a dangerous horse. I also cheat and use treats if they pick up feet for me as asked, stand perfectly still as a groom, and as part of stretching and flexing prior to riding. Food focuses the mind.

    I also use food to combat anxiety. You could try putting a flake of hay at her feet when you groom in the barn, or take her in and give her some portion of her daily grain, and then groom. Once she associates the barn with extra rations, it will be far easier to get her to go in and be happy about it. Very rarely do mares want any other horse around when they are eating.

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

    HoofArmor HoofArmor
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have found Warwick Schiller’s training methods to be very helpful with this and a multitude of other issues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUfpIPPXPIU
    There is a lot more if you just google Warwick Schiller separation anxiety. Hope this helps! Best, Brenda Jo

    Barb
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    There has been quite a bit of research done on Stall Mirrors. Try installing a mirror in the stall. That should settle down your horse. I have a horse that used to weave terribly, once the mirror was installed…the weaving stopped! I went online and purchased a child-proof 24″x24″ mirror and installed it. He came up instantly to the mirror and it was love at first sight!

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by  Barb.
    horse-companion Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 8

    I’ve had Nettan a couple of years. She’s an old breeding mare… but looks quite youthful and in great condition. My husband says I feed the horses better than him. But joking aside, I’ve spent time and money finding the right balance of food for both of them. We’ve just moved to a new stables at the weekend and it’s working perfectly for Nettan. She made a friend straightaway and they go everywhere together. Ricko on the otherhand is quite stressed. He has a lot of arabian in him. The second night he started doing piaff in his box. I’ve never known a horse do that but that’s how he reacts to stress. They have chickens next to the new stable and when they looked around the main door he started again with his stepping on the spot. Hoping he settles down soon. There’s 11 horses standing there and when they are in their boxes they can see quite a few of them. Nettan made me laugh the first night. She was shouting and Ricko thought it was for him but she looking right past him… she was shouting for her new friend that she couldn’t see from her box.

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

    Arabians are just…different (I have two of them). They like to look at things, and anything new might be dangerous, and therefore should be treated with extreme caution. Can you put him on field board? Both of mine prefer that, although they will stay in a stall quietly for awhile, so long as they have food or human attention. Both dislike the peacock and the turkey, although are not at all bothered by the chickens or guinea fowl. Joe Joe does not like parked tractors, but moving ones are fine. The list goes on. Give them plenty of time, and turn them out as much as possible.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Barb
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Phantom is a high-strung horse. He was very stressed when brought into the barn and showed signs of that stress. There were times he used to weave so much, he was soaked in sweat. Since the mirror was installed, he has settled down. He has gone through 2 mirrors as he plays with them and ends up breaking a non-breakable mirror. Once that mirror is gone, his bad behavior returned. When I re-installed his mirror, he was a normal horse.

    The cost of a mirror isn’t that much and you can install it in minutes. I would recommend that you research the topic and consider a mirror installation. I know of people that have mirrors in their horse trailers to settle down their horses.

    horse-companion Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 8

    They are in the fields during the day but it’s still too cold to leave them out overnight. Probably in about 6 weeks we can do that. This week is forecast for rain rain and more rain so they will be standing in the dry paddocks. But over the weekend they had a chance to run with the other horses and it went great! Ricko always surprises me at what he’s afraid of… it’s never what you expect. With Nettan it’s cows, elk and being alone.

    horse-companion Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 8

    We tried a mirror with Nettan but she wasn’t interested. She’s not so easily fooled. We have no weaving in the box for either of the horses. In fact they are in general pretty calm. I think Ricko is just nervous of new things. Definately on his toes with new things but isn’t dangerous in anyway.

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

    Cold. Hate it! I forgot that Sweden is way colder than Virginia.

    It is never the horse's fault

    JanePatten
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have a horse couple that couldn’t stand to be apart.. So much so that my gelding took to leaping the fence. I understand your frustration!

    My situation is a little different than yours, as my two lovebirds tend to be more on the relaxed side generally (except when you separated them from eachother!) I solved the issue by leaving buddy-sour-horse-#1 in the pasture/corral, and then leading buddy-sour-horse-#2 away, like 5 feet, then back to the gate. We did this about 15 times, going further out each time, and varying the amount of time we spent at the “far” end of our lap. Before long, both horses quit their whinnying and were more content to graze than pace, run, and jump about nervously for each other. It takes time, but any effective training mechanism takes time. This is a John Lyons tactic and its common-sense approach has worked very well for us! Best of luck to you.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by  JanePatten.
    Cindy
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Perhaps she is reacting to something other than being alone in the barn. Maybe there is a smell in the barn that she is reacting to or she has a strong memory of something unpleasant happening to her in another barn. Try using essential oils on your hands, especially lavendar which is calming, and let her smell your hands before even approaching the barn. That might help to relax her. Or use accupressure points that are associated with calming a horse. Just some ideas.

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