Stall Behavior

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by windblown, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. windblown

    windblown Senior Member

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    I'm a bit lost on this one, so maybe HGS will have some ideas for me. I have a mare who I bred, and she can be a problem in her stall. She is normally a very sweet, laidback mare, so it's an odd behavior for her character. Her mother was a little defensive in her stall, but it never progressed beyond minor ear pinning (mare face, lol). I knew her behavior came from some training she had probably a decade before she came into my life, and, again, she was super sweet and the ears would go forward as soon as you gave her a pet. Her daughter, though...She'll be 9 this year, and it has progressed on and off over the last few months.

    As far as what she does, she's really just defensive. It is at its worst when you're cleaning her stall. You have to keep an eye on her, as she will spin around for no reason at all, pointing her hindquarters at you or almost running into you. She had never offered to kick until this past week, and when she did, it really shocked me. It was more of a warning, but for no reason (my mom was on the opposite side of the stall from her, cleaning it quietly, and we have good sized 12' x 12' stalls). If it were just the ear pinning, I wouldn't care. I'm just not sure what to do about the spinning and her pointing her butt. When we get after her, she gets even worse. She is perfectly calm & quiet at all other times in her stall. It is only at cleaning that she is an issue. I'm not sure how far or how hard to push, I guess? Or exactly what the best way to do it would be. I don't want the stall to be a scary place for her, but this behavior is unacceptable. I have no issue being very firm with a horse, FWIW. If I need to do that, I'll do it. I just don't want to make a situation even worse.

    She is turned out everyday. She has free access to hay when in her stall. There is no grain or soy in her diet (we feed hay pellets, a complete vitamin/mineral supplement, and alfalfa hay, all in conjunction with working with a vet). She was in work up until this cold snap, and she will be going back to work Sunday/Monday when we have reasonable temps again. I have not noticed a difference in the behavior with her when she's working vs. when she has extended time off. She has never had to share food with another horse, either. The stalls have solid walls, so she cannot even see the horse next to her. I have treated her for ulcers, but there was no change. I am debating doing another round, which is why this post has been made. If people think this sounds like an ulcer-y type thing, I'll do another round of UlcerGard and EquiShure. I've just never dealt with a horse like this, and it gets a bit old throwing money at meds/treatments unless other people agree with me that it'll be worth a try.
     
  2. Lopinslow

    Lopinslow Senior Member

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    if I had one kick towards me, or threaten me in any way, all hell would break loose. That horse would get the flat side of the plastic fork across their butt several times.

    just last night, Indy didn't kick out, but hopped her butt up in front of me last night, she got whalloped with a leadrope (closest thing to grab) across her butt several times.
     
  3. LoveTrail

    LoveTrail Senior Member

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    Is she under lights at your barn? Could she maybe be in heat?
     
  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Treatments should be discussed with your vet and worked out with him or her, not 'other people.' Treatment for ulcers should be used if diagnostics indicate the horse has ulcers. Omeprazole is expensive and when people spend money on that again and again, they may not have enough money left for proper diagnostics to find out what's really going wrong, because not every irritated horse has ulcers. As a result, the horse's real condition may not get treated appropriately.

    That said, this sort of behavior is not always due to ulcers.

    A good many mares have chronic low level uterine infections that have been going on for years. As a result, they often are 'perpetually in heat' and are constantly uncomfortable and territorial.

    Reproductive tumors are another root cause of 'unpleasant' behavior in mares. Yes, reproductive problems can cause mares to appear 'aggressive' or 'difficult' or 'territorial.' Often these problems go on for years and everyone shrugs and says, 'oh she's just a nasty horse.' MOST of these conditions are very treatable.

    Another source of 'crabby' behavior is vision problems. Distorted vision can cause horses to be incredibly irritable any time anyone comes into their stalls. Since they cannot see well they become defensive. They are simply attempting to protect themselves from a perceived threat(any time an animal cannot clearly see something, there is the possibility the situation will be perceived as a threat). They may 'behave better' for more assertive persons who correct them firmly and swiftly, but they still have a physical problem that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

    Another source of 'crabby' behavior is lameness. Horses realize they will be made to move about the stall and they become irritable and defensive. They may associate someone coming in the stall with being tacked up and worked. Dental problems can also cause nasty stall behavior. Our friend's horse became 'crabby' when he had a very severe sore back due to a saddle fitting issue. He'd run people right out of his stall.

    There are other diseases as well that cause irritability, but it also can be a behavioral issue. Or it could be both a medical and a behavioral issue.

    Since the only time the horse misbehaves is when her stall is getting cleaned, I am going to be very skeptical that this is a physical problem because physical problems do not disappear and then only show when the horse's stall is cleaned - UNLESS she simply has no other interactions with humans - no longeing, riding, driving or ground work where her behavior could be observed and evaluated.

    Question - is your mother the person who always cleans her stall?

    Because horses - most horses, in fact - simply do not behave for some people - and some horses are quite bad in that respect. I've seen so many horses that behave like completely different animals depending on who is cleaning their stall. At the barn where my niece rode, there were 48 different ponies, and every last one of them knew very well which students were 'on the ball' and which were not. One was a holy terror. Just open her stall door and she'd take a dive at you, ears flat, teeth bared, eyes looking ferocious. If the head trainer opened the door, she'd stand there with her ears pricked as if she was so sweet butter would not melt in her mouth.

    In the 'good old days' horses that got nasty in their stalls were 'poled' - that is, a pole was hung across the stall keeping them at one side of the stall and the stall cleaner would clean the rest of the stall. The pole was hung so it rested on the side of the horse and did not allow him to pivot or swing his front or rear around. Obviously hanging a pole like that in a stall is not without risks and a person has to be careful when doing so.

    But I have seen these poles used at camps and other places where a lot of novices went in and out of the stalls. They are superior to tying up because the animal can still put his head up or down, reach his water and hay, and back up or move forward. Tying up also does not keep a horse from pivoting his hindquarters around and kicking the stall cleaner.

    In many barns, horses are 'stall trained.' What that means is that when the stall cleaner comes in, the horse lines himself up close to one wall of the stall - and stays there, without swinging his haunches, shoulders or neck/head away from the wall. When the stall cleaner is done with the first side, the horse is told, 'go on' (or whatever) and he walks over to the other side of the stall, and stays on that wall while the cleaner finishes.

    In barns where the horses are not trained that way, it was common for me to see loose horses tearing all over the property every morning, because the stall cleaners weren't on the ball.

    They are trained to do this, painstakingly, by repetition and sheer consistency, in other words, every time the stall cleaner comes in with the muck bucket, they either get over or they get punished - immediately, every time. Generally, the old timers trained this with a few flicks of a long whip (and stayed out of range of kicks and bites). The horses 'got the point' very quickly and did as they were told. It can also be trained very easily with simply repetition. I just had Wuss Horse 'get over' a few times and he very quickly picked up on the idea of 'you go over there, I go over here.'

    If your horse has a behavior problem, you will need to show her the behavior you want and punish her when she does not do that behavior. It is that simple. It's not just about training her to get over to one wall. This needs to be real punishment, if she takes a dive at someone or threatens to kick (or actually does kick.).



     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  5. windblown

    windblown Senior Member

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    Oh believe me, she did get in trouble. I was in the next stall over and heard it. It has made no difference in the spinning, though. She knew she was in trouble at that moment, but it has yet to correlate beyond, even with a lot of repetition. She HAS been trained to stand along a wall while the stall is cleaned. When you ask her to move, she panics and spins even more.

    slc - I just like getting opinions before bugging my vet. That's all I meant by that statement. I'm not big on texting/calling her unless it's an emergency or a normal yearly appt. I forgot how specific I had to be for some people on here.
     
  6. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    And I forgot how you ask for help...
     
  7. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    Put a halter and lead rope on her when you clean her stall. Does she know how to yield hind quarters to pressure? Hold the lead in your hand and yield her so her front end is facing you. I clean stalls with my horses in them (usually together, lol because they have free choice access) and just move them around. I don't care if they're up against a wall or butt turned towards me, I will work a round it. I don't mean they spin and turn butt to me, but I will clean around them, in between legs if needed and walk/ clean behind them, whatever. I wonder if your mom is scared and projects that? Just something to think about.
    As for slick, who is going to read that wall of text? Not me.
     
    ChestersMomma likes this.
  8. Circle C

    Circle C Senior Member

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    Same here. When I am in the stall, you are facing me. If you aren't facing me, you're gonna pay the price. I don't deal with butts pointed my way.
     
    kodemiester likes this.
  9. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

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    Work her in the stall and show her it’s yours. She can do simple groundwork in a stall.,
     
  10. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    Question. If she's turned out everyday why is there a need to clean her stall while she is in it?

    I feel I must be missing something here........
     

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