Stall Behavior

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

  1. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    She said smack, I take that to mean the handle. That's not the same as stabbing with the business end of the pitchfork. That would be something I would try to avoid.

    If I was about to get made into a wall pizza I might rap the horse with the handle, if I thought it would improve my odds of survival rather than decrease my odds(as would often be the case), but would not do so in any lesser situations.

    Usually all that is required to save one from being made into a wall pizza is to wave one's hand at the horse's head and say, 'Pray stop, kind sir, I do not want to be made into a wall pizza.' (In other words, say whatever strikes your fancy, the hand gesture probably will make the horse move back.).

    I have absolutely seen people - mostly people who don't know much or have emotional problems (can't control their emotions, substance abuse, etc) - get really aggressive with pitch forks and other items if a horse steps out of line the tiniest bit. Some of them are just doing what they were taught, and some are really...messed up.

    Most of the time, I think they're showing off for an audience (and sometimes that's an audience of one - themselves....). Most of the time, they are dealing with very phlegmatic horses that meekly give in, and most of the time, if a horse didn't meekly submit, they would not know what to do.

    In short, a lot of really aggressive horse handlers are bullies, and cowards. The aggression is an attempt to seem skilled or powerful.

    In my experience, with very, very few exceptions, those people get hurt far, far more often than the people who don't get aggressive.

    I'd say 'aggressive', meaning a huge over-reaction, well past what is necessary to change the behavior. 'Assertive' or 'effective', I think of as just doing the least amount of action that is effective to correct the behavior.

    So....example, the old Standardbred breeding farm guy Jimmy (75, been working with horses since age 15), would take a youngster and lead him over to the stall wall, and if the youngster moved, he'd give 'em a little flick with a whip. And he'd just stand there, quiet, the rest of the time. Then he'd go over on the other side of the horse, move him over to the other wall, stand there. He would do that about 3 times, and then say it was alright for us girls to go in and clean the stall. No aggression, no screaming, yelling, pitchfork tines in the rump, just....stand there real quiet. Show the animal what to do, rinse, repeat. Done.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  2. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    I was once asked by another trainer to keep an eye on his horses, just run by the stalls twice a day, at lunch and night feed, do water, hay and feed what was set up. He had just gotten stalls at the track for the three horses he had trained up to qualifying level. He still had three or four more back at his farm and didn't have enough help to leave a groom at the track with these three.

    No problem, and, since he was a friend of mine, I also was going to, as well as throw them hay and feed, pick his stalls for him.

    I go past this dark bay's stall and he comes head and shoulders over the dutch door, to which I raise my arms and head towards him. His eyes get like the moon and he backs away, staring at me from the back wall of the stall. You do the opposite of what everyone else does and instead of jumping away, you walk to them waving your hands over your head and they move away.

    I walk up to him, lead him to the crossties, put him on just the left one, throw him some hay and come in with the muck bucket.

    He swishes his tail, no ears pinned and does this dainty little, not ground-covering side pass with his back end. Simple solution that is extremely non-aggressive: bring the tine end of the fork up until it's in a horizontal position, hold it steady, and ALLOW him to siddle right into it.
    Took twice and he stopped.

    He wasn't eating his hay, just watched me.

    As I was finishing up I hear a truck pulling up. My friend and his groom jump out: :willynilly: :willynilly: :willynilly: “Get away from that horse he's a man killer~!!“ :willynilly::willynilly::willynilly:

    I told him: “No he's not. He's fear aggressive and since you fear him...“

    They walked this horse with two poles attached to his halter, one on each side. The horse pranced, hollered, reared, walked on his hind legs all the way to the paddock like that.

    This is what happens when you let a horse act up and are too afraid to get in there and correct the behavior. All he had to do was get his attention off that behavior from time one, and the horse would have manners.

    Instead, the horse is left to his own devices. No leader to show him what IS EXPECTED of him, so he has no choice but to react to the world with fear and apprehension. You would too if you had no one to show you how to be a member of society.
     
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  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I do too - but I clean the stalls with the horses in the stalls because I think it's an indispensable skill they have to have. I can't guarantee I'll live forever, so they need to be ready for all things that commonly happen in boarding barns, training barns, show facilities, private barns.

     
  4. MuckMuck

    MuckMuck Senior Member

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    Yes,lets get into an argument with a 1200 lb horse that needs training in a confined area with a plastic muck rake.

    Boy we showed em.
     
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  5. jojozwiebel

    jojozwiebel Full Member

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    I find that this happens a lot and I've been scared of a horse like this before. He was big. He was goofy and full of energy. It got better once I told myself to not be scared of him.
     
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  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Iron pitch fork. Five tine.
    Mucky, c'mon. Do you argue with horses or do you train them?
    Do you jump away and/or ignore a horse that misbehaves? Or do you train them?

    The latter is how my boss's daughter was. He gave her a colt, the colt would react to a mare in season, holler, bounce around and she JUMPED away. SCARED TO DEATH of the Colt. So, he kept right on doing WHATEVER he FELT like doing. Why not? Nobody's correcting him.

    He got so bad you couldn't hook him to the cart without two holding him while he reared, screamed and tried to take off. He tried that with me and I got up close to his shoulder, brought his head around to me, turned him in a circle and laced his butt with the line ends two or three times. SPOILED and DANGEROUS was what he had become from avoiding training him and just putting up with the bad behavior. That wouldn't have worked by removing him from the situation: hooking to the cart.

    Took him back to the cart, said “stand“...he stood. Too bad he had to get a wake up call because he had a groom that was too afraid to do her dang job.

    She couldn't even get bandages on him, he'd lift his leg and she'd move away. You simply tell him stand and if the leg moves, you go with it. They quickly give up resistance once resistance doesn't get YOU to stop.

    I got him and it took no time. You listen to me. I tell you what you may or may not do. I tell you stand, you move you get put back. I don't allow the horse to do as he pleases, when he pleases, AND, believe it or not, horses are MUCH happier knowing what is expected from them, MUCH happier being trained, MUCH happier being broke.

    I'm really surprised at how fearful you seem to be about training a horse IN a stall. What do you think we do on the track? Remove them from the stall to work on them?
     
  7. ChestersMomma

    ChestersMomma Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with the concept that a stall is a horse's space... to a point. I do not allow my own horse to swing his butt in my direction when I'm in his stall whether it would have been out of aggression or just not paying attention. When I'm in there, he's to be aware of me but I don't expect him to be "at attention" like if he were ground tied or with me in a round pen. I do not fault the ones that just pin their ears. They are letting you know they would prefer you go but not acting out.

    I'm not sure about the safety of "training" a truly claustrophobic or aggressive horse in a stall. I've never had to do it.

    When I cleaned stalls at different barns, I only remember two horses that were untrustworthy in the stall enough that they gave me pause. One was a very expensive and VERY nasty mare. Her stall was probably 24x24ish... and she was a witch with a capital B. Her attitude progressively got worse throughout the pregnancy and she was unmanageable after the foal came by anyone but her owner. She was bred because breeding will settle her down" :rolleyes: but was dangerous to be around... munching on hay and then randomly just turn and chomp at you or even dart at you. There was not the option to defend with a fork and once she was visibly pregnant even stressing her out made me nervous.The stall was big enough that I kept a wheelbarrow or muck bucket between me and her always. The other was a "dangerous" yearling halter colt (read: fed tons of rich food, only let out 2xweek to lunge, ZERO turnout). He just needed boundaries. He would barge at me and swing around but it only took a few times of me making a fuss and barging right back at him and he learned quickly.

    Is there any possibility that she has been hit by or hurt with a stall fork? The stud colt I mentioned was poked and smacked at by the previous stall cleaner a lot because he was mouthy as a baby. My own horse briefly stayed at another barn and I found out he was walloped across his broadside by the stall cleaner because he rubbed his head on her arm. Thankfully he only associated that with her and not with stall forks. Sounds like you and mom are doing the cleaning so that's probably not the case.

    I would agree to just clean the stall when she is out. Another option could be teaming up... one of you has her on a lead and the other cleans. The "leader" corrects with a sharp tug and NO if she moves in any sort of aggressive manner. Honestly... best of luck with this one. Please stay safe. I agree with Muck that a stall is not the place for a ****ing match between horse and owner but at the same time, she is going to have to learn to share that space for everyone's safety.
     
  8. MuckMuck

    MuckMuck Senior Member

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    Let me maybe clarify for the folks that are willing to read more than a half of a paragraph.

    IF a horse shows uneasiness and stress in a stall environment training is needed.

    The question really is where that training should take place INITIALLY after the stressful expression.

    My point is that there are more than likely other places the behavior expresses it's self but maybe is not reported.

    I have personally worked with many dozens of these kind of horses and sometimes it takes some major sleuthing to discover the source of the horses anxiety.

    I will also point out that some humans are born claustrophobic and some horses are too and the 12x12 stall was created by humans seeking convenience of care for large groups of animals.
     
  9. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    I'd be spending time with her outside the stall first. Tie her and touch her all over, rub her ears, between her legs, pull her tail (gently), See is you get an response from any of that. If you do, then you have a place to start.

    You know this mare and her history. You can see where her aggressiveness has escalated. Is it worse with you mom than with you? Does she do the same stuff with you or other people that may clean her stall.

    Can you make her behave when you are in the stall?

    Whenever I had one stalled, they had to behave civilly when I was in the stall. I did not care if they preferred me to not be there as long as they did not try to make me leave. I tried not to introduce new or scary things while they were in their stall. I tried not to spook, threaten or otherwise make them uncomfortable in the stall. I tried to remain conscious of the fact that a 12 X 12 stall, especially with solid walls, is NOT natural to them. They can become really guardy of their space and while I will not allow them to threaten or hurt me, I try to not give them a good reason to threaten or try to hurt me.
     
  10. AmyK

    AmyK Senior Member

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    Just gonna throw my two cents in and say my first reaction would NOT be to whack a horse with a pitchfork in a stall. I, personally, would quickly move myself to the horse's flank and give a quick no-nonsense smack meaning "move your butt away and don't do that," knowing how much "smack" each of my horses can take before it turns into an explosion. A stall is not a good place for a "come to Jesus" moment and I'm not particularly fearful around my horses but being in a small place, like a stall or a trailer, with a panicking horse freaks me out. No thanks. Enough pressure to move the butt in an "I mean it" way without escalating to a meltdown.... if the same thing happened outside of the stall, I would absolutely give them the "5 seconds of you're going to die" treatment.

    I also personally hate cleaning my stalls with horses in them... none of mine are problematic, I just think it's a pain. I can see why you might not have a choice if you board, but if you have them at home why not clean with her turned out and start smaller with doing things in the stall?
     

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