Stall Walking at shows

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  TheFoxRider 3 years, 2 months ago.

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  • TheFoxRider Original Poster
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 28

    Hey All,

    I took my coming 5 year old mare to her first show last weekend. While she was great in the ring, she was very anxious appearing and stall walked / paced in circles the whole time she was in her stall. By the end of her weekend she was pretty fatigued, which I’d like to prevent in the future (well, that and the mess she made in her stall…).

    The stall was closed on 3 sides at the show, where she is used to a stall that is bars on 3 sides with a good view of barn activity, and she does go out at home from ~7:30 – 5:30 at the earliest versus spending most of the weekend stalled. She isn’t extraordinarily spooky and while she does turn a little bit in her stall at home, it’s usually to go look at something in a new direction, and her stall has an even floor versus the hole she spun herself while at the show. She was, of course, calmer outside of her stall, but I can’t hand graze her the entire weekend. She had a both a slow feed hay net and a regular hay net of good hay the whole weekend but ate only sporadically, which is very unusual as she is usually a giant pig.

    Does anyone have any tips to help us out? I’m tempted to try a paste calming supplement over night at the next show, but she really doesn’t need it at home, so I’d be very interested in other options or perspectives.

    Thanks!

    Visit my horse care and product review blog at: www.keepcalmhorsecare.blogspot.com

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Have you tried putting music in the stall? Perhaps all the different noises are driving her to distraction.

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

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    I think this MIGHT be one of those “time spent is the best way” issues..

    She is young yet, and new to the show environment with you, this being her first show and away from home. Security is likely an issue for her in her head. Regular exposure to new/iffy things most often eventually softens the blow. It is possible that it’s whatever is outside the stall that keeps her up, not so much inside (other than the fact that SHE is in it)). Is there any way that the stall, with mgt permission, can be easily and lightly modified to allow more/less visibility without compromising safety/structural integrity? Consider maybe a larger or smaller arrangement? Can she be re-stalled if not? The more ( or maybe less) she can see, the less fretting…possibly.

    Is she alone in her temporary house? Can she see other horses (not necessarily a barn mate, tho one horse can bond quickly with another, stranger or not, over the slightest things, strength and security in numbers and all that : )?

    I know this might sound harsh, and others might not agree but just sometimes, when environmental components are new to a horse, ‘specially a young/green one, plain old patience and simply keeping them safe is pretty effective. If you KNOW the situation to be relatively harmless, and she does NOT escalate her behaviour IN the stall, let her figure it out for herself. Are the horses around her quiet? Can you stall her in a quieter/busier area? Not sure which way either would influence but worth a try to figure her out, helping her figure herself out as well…

    Where you say this is her first event, and she is young and normally NOT given to melt-downs, she might soon settle down with enough exposure and support (try not to discipline her for losing her sense of order over these things, educate her: show her it’s “dead”: not a big deal). Can you take her other places for one nighters, like “playdates”, clinics and/or such?

    Never easy but worth it any way! Good luck at your events, have a fun summer, and enjoy your girl : )

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

    WidgeryCross
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I agree with the recommendation to be patient and let her adjust. I start a young horse showing by going to non-overnight shows; we just go to day shows and hang out. They can stand and eat hay for hours – they learn to ignore the hubbub around them and enjoy a day munching. That usually only takes a couple or 3 outings. Then I add a class or two in. That usually only takes another 2 outings, and they now have the gist of “showing”, what their job is, what it’s all about. Finally, I’ll take on an overnight show – by this time, they understand that they are supposed to “hang out, munch, and go in classes” – so the being in a stall thing is just one new element, instead of a massive number of new elements all at once to figure out and adjust to.
    One other thing I do, with young horses being stabled overnight, is go to a couple shows that stablemates from home are also going to. That way my horse is stabled next to someone they know, who’s smells and sounds are familiar. Horses are herd-bound, instinctively feeling much safer with known buddies near them when in new situations. 2-3 overnight shows with stable buddies next door can make the “overnight” phase of learning to show, much easier of a transition. (Young horses can be shown in anything – just go where your boarding friends are going. Borrow a western saddle and put your English horse in a walk trot class, it’s great fun. Borrow an English saddle and put your western horse in an English flat class. They just follow the rail anyway, so steering can be finessed easily. And you’re not there for ribbons, you’re there to train your horse what showing is all about generally. Ribbons (in the correct classes at the correct show) will come later, when you have a relaxed, happy horse doing her best for you because she is well-adjusted to this whole new world.)

    TheFoxRider Original Poster
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 28

    Thanks, everyone. I’m glad that you’re suggesting the patience route because others were quick to move to supplements and other things I don’t think she really needs. The plan is to continue the positive exposure at shows and let her figure it out. Thanks!

    Visit my horse care and product review blog at: www.keepcalmhorsecare.blogspot.com

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    You got some excellent advice, FoxRider. I asked my retired horse trainer husband about your question. He said the same thing–the entire situation was new to your mare, and she was nervous and scared. Since she couldn’t run away–never forget, that’s any horse’s first instinct when frightened–she dug holes and stall walked. Given enough shows and enough time, she will settle down. When I brought my new horse home–he’s 16 years old and has passed through many owners’ hands from Ohio to California–he walked right out of the trailer, up the hill to his new pipe corral, and waited while I opened the gate. He then spent the next 24 hours walking from his hay across his corral to the water, then back to his hay, then back to his water. And so on. By the third day he had settled in. Horses recognize patterns–routines, in other words–such as the ones WidgeryCross suggested. Start small, and once your horse relaxes while hanging out at a show, add another element to what she has learned. Good luck to you both!

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Well FoxRider, where you are one of those folks that does NOT jump on the supplement/tranq wagon easily, I, for one, think your baby girl is lucky to have you : )

    As earlier and well mentioned by WidgeryCross and JoanFry, take her to a few places where the show itself is secondary and use it for training and exposure. Take her out and ride around the grounds for a while also, let her see it all going on: better she be tired from work than spent from stress I would think.. Get to your events early, too, if you can, easier for Horse to walk in at the beginning of the movie than in the middle, just seems to make more sense to them ; )

    Good luck, FoxRider, good on you for standing your ground for your girl, she IS lucky to have you!

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

    TheFoxRider Original Poster
    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 28

    Thanks again, pheets, JoanFry and WidgeryCross! Your input was very helpful in choosing my girl’s show calendar for the rest of the year and we’re going back to the ground work basics at home so I have tools to handle her better while hand walking and grazing her at shows. The redheaded mare and I thank you!

    Visit my horse care and product review blog at: www.keepcalmhorsecare.blogspot.com

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