Stall Behavior

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

  1. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Why not remove the horse to clean the stall?

    Because then the horse never gets trained how to be in the stall for cleaning. IMHO, not getting horses used to being stalled, what ya gonna do when you NEED to keep him in a stall?
    How many threads have there been where a horse has to be in and HATES the stall. Horses HATE whatever is NOT routine.

    Think about that last statement: We habituate them to routines, this is what training is ALL about. Skip whatever part of their training you like and you, or someone else, will eventually realize that that little piece of training might just be more important than you think it is.

    Freaking out in a stall is all about the horse behaving in the stall the same way he does when he is of his own devices. Habituate the horse to the stall and alllllllll that goes away.

    Taking the horse OUT of the stall to teach it how to be calm in a stall is like taking a horse out of a trailer to teach it how to be calm in a trailer.

    It don't work.
     
  2. NBChoice

    NBChoice Senior Member

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    Yep, this is how I do it too. Obviously if they aggressively turn their butt towards me that's a no no. But if they are just standing eating hay and I happen to be behind their butt... oh well. I just watch them and am careful about it. None of my horses have ever offered to kick in a situation like that though.

    OP is it possible to just remove the horse while you clean the stall and then put her back in when you're done? Fighting with a large animal in a small, enclosed space is not my idea of fun. Even if that is considered "real" training... I'd rather be safe than sorry.
     
  3. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

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    The threatening display has started long before the hind hoof was lifted to kick. You have to stop disrespectful behaviour as soon as it starts and that can be making an annoyed face when you open the door or enter the stall. And that's where you have to start with discipline.

    I mean, if you clean a stall, you come armed with a tool with a long handle. One light tap with the handle of the fork on the rump or croup when the horse starts pulling an annoyed face should send it into the corner with the butt away from you without any fuss. They have to learn to get out of your way and move as you direct them when you clean stalls anyway, so plenty of occasion to teach them you mean business and they have to get out of your way and pay attention.

    And if there is serious aggression, the perpetrator gets a good whack the moment the hind hoof leaves the ground. I mean, it's unfair, but in a stall you have him in the corner and with the fork handle at a distance where he can't reach you. So it's totally safe to discipline the perpetrator accordingly (don't bully the cornered animal, just short and crispy and then try again!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  4. Dona Worry

    Dona Worry Senior Member

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    I swear, the more I read about other people's horses, the more convinced I am I have not horses but a rare breed of unicorn.
     
  5. PyroTekNik333

    PyroTekNik333 Senior Member

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    Any time a horse has an abrupt change in behavior I look for a medical reason.
    Horses don't just wake up one day and go rogue.

    If nothing is found I handle it much the same as muckmuck. Find the source of the anxiety and work on that in an area that is safe for all involved and graduate up to working on it in the stall.

    Using some of the "training" methods mentioned with an aggressive or fearful horse would be a real a good way to hasten your trip to the after life.
    There aint nothing a lead rope or ash handle is going to do to stop a charging horse.
     
  6. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

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    Most horses try being spunky with humans a few times when they are foals, they learn, no, has consequences, is not tolerated and generally humans are good to have in life and then they do not try it again as adults if you are not a total pushover and encourage it by generally letting the horse walk all over you.

    There are more grumpy individuals who have a tendency to pin their ears a lot, you just discourage it with firm, decisive handling and with most of them that's it.

    So if the horses had a good upbringing, it's rare. The most obnoxious ones are horses that were spoiled as foals. Not handling them as foals, letting them grow up wild will never end in a human aggressive horse, mistreatment rarely ends in a human aggressive horse, but spoiling them as foals, allowing them to be disrespectful to humans in play because they are so "cute" can create seriously dangerous horses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  7. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

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    Indeed. A well behaved individual will not suddenly have a change of mind and act like this.
     
  8. lhoward

    lhoward Senior Member

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    I do believe that a horse has to learn consequences. Certain behaviors aren't acceptable and sometimes there has to be a "come to Jesus moment". I think we all know those kind of situations, no need to re-hash.

    BUT! In all fairness, we also have to listen to the horse. Respect is a two way road.
    If you have a horse that already knows manners, normally behaves very well, understands the rules, has the training but becomes unglued in a particular situation, well, more "digging" needs to be done.

    First of all, that is NOT the time and place to go hog wild on the horse to teach it something. In such a small space with such a large animal who obviously has some sort of mental block or issue who do you think is going to win that one ? And its not about "winning" anyway. It sounds to me like the mare gets so over wound she looses her head in those moments. The "spinning" sounds to me like she is getting overloaded mentally and cannot snap out of it. You may "snap" her out of it by whacking her, or you may send her completely over the edge where the "fight or die" (since flight is taken out of the equation) instinct takes over.

    Again, we are NOT talking about the usual "spoiled brat" horse that pushes the owners buttons and is being a butt all the time. Not a horse that tries to challenge the owners in different situations.

    There is just something about the combination of being locked in that stall and having someone move around her, cleaning.
    "We" know there is nothing (should be nothing) wrong with that. But do we truly know what goes on in the horses head? Ever seen a horse that looses its head and goes beyond listening to any reason/whack/punishment ? I have, and its scary. They will kill themselves, there is no more "sense" left.

    Does that mean this should be allowed to continue? Obviously not. It could escalate. It could get dangerous. And yes, we should not have a horse get away with kicking / biting or being dangerous around humans.

    So what to do ?
    If it was me, I would take a step back and really start to think. Put yourself in the horses mind. Pay attention. Pick a quiet day with tons of time and spend some time with the horse before stalling her. Pay close attention to the horse BEFORE you are stalling her and then DURING getting ready to stall her, and then WHILE she is in the stall. Really watch that body language. Just stay outside the stall quietly and observe. Is she TRULY relaxed even when alone? Does she seem even the least bit antsy? Do noises or movements set her off? Tense? Relaxed ? Will she **** a leg and quietly munch hay with eyes half closed?

    Then go into the stall with her. Again, observe. Take your time, spend some time just doing nothing...just be there with her.

    After that, talk to her, walk around her. Does anything change? Is it your moving around her? Did she ever relax and if so, how is she now? What sets her off more...being locked in? You being locked in with her? You moving and talking? At what point does she really show stress?

    I have a feeling that it may be before the cleaning even begins. My mare is HIGHLY claustrophobic. Things she won't look at twice suddenly worry her more, because she is tied up and she knows it. If locked in a stall, she will pace and carry on. I got her at a older age and while I got her through most of her issues, I know that certain ones are part of who she is, and I work around it. She trusts me. I can muck and move around her and she will not even bat an eye lid. But if that stall door would be closed, it would change the dynamics. She would still not panic, but she would probably get more "alert".

    She does know better then to either bite, kick or even pin her ears at me. But on the other hand, she has many small ways to talk to me through her body language, her facial expressions, even her voice. She will let me know when something bothers her, the thing is, you have to observe. They give a lot of small clues before they act out when they cannot handle something anymore.

    I know some will say this is all mumbo jumbo, just to smack the crap out of the horse for being a witch and thats that.

    But if the horse really does have a mental hickup you actually rather WANT her to give warnings that she cannot handle it, before it goes straight to explosion.

    Swinging butt and kicking at person would usually make me say the same things, make her think she is going to die for just a second. But that is only if they are being brats.

    I strongly feel there is something else going on with that horse, esp. since she will only act that way in this sitations and her spinning around in circles is showing me she feels trapped and is starting to "loose" it in those moments.

    If you can spend some quiet time and observe closely you may find the trigger, the "small" things that happen before it escalates. It may help you to help her.

    Until you can work with her through this, I would tie her outside the stall during cleaning. Give her a special something during that time, that she usually doesn't get. Like those molasses balls, or tubs. So she has some sort of "positive association" with stall cleaning time (of course don't give her any treats if she has already acted badly, you want to do all this before she has a chance to act up). Perhaps eventually you can move that treat (and her) into the stall and just spend time with her in there, then clean while she is in there, etc.

    I think this is one time where it would be worth it to really figure this out, not just try to beat it down. For the horses and the owners sake and safety.
     
  9. lhoward

    lhoward Senior Member

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    Also, you said the walls are "solid" and she cannot even see another horse.

    A 12 x 12 stall with solid walls can make a horse feel quite claustrophobic. My mare has a open door on one side (leads to a large paddock, door always open) and a big open window on the other. Many people close their horses windows when its cold or it rains, but if I do that, my mare won't go into the stall. Even with the open door.

    When she had her colic surgery I was told she would need to be stalled. I told her doctor, she will make herself worse. She will not stay quiet, I would have to heavily sedate her. Sedation slows down the gut, NOT what you should use after colic surgey. So I made her a "mini paddock". I cut her paddock into a sixth of its normal size, using roundpen panels. So she had her stall, her open door and window and could go "outside" where she had a mini paddock. Not big enough to move around much, just big enough to not make her feel locked up.

    Could I FORCE her to accept being stuck in a small locked up and solid stall ? Of course. Would she get over it eventually? Maybe. Would it be a good thing to "train" ? Perhaps. But I think her claustrophobia is just one of those things, it is a mental disorder and its not something you can "train" someone to get over. Esp. not with harsh methods. You can however acclimate someone and help them. Give and take. My girl behaves very well and is 100% respectful, even in "scary to her" situations, but it took a lot of time and mutual respect. She knows I also "listen" to her, and try to work with her around her trigger points. (fear of getting stuck, trapped, etc)

    I have a feeling the OP's mare may not truly be 100% content and happy and relaxed in that space. But it may not be very obvious until it escalates when someone is in that space with her, it may enforce the "trapped" feeling to a point she can't handle it. Its hard to put one-selves into the mind of someone that has a "irrational" fear.

    Since the mare usually minds well, but has those issues only during that time and place AND they get worse with discipline, I think there is more to it then just a "rotten" behavior out of dominance or brattiness.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  10. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    The horse is 9yrs old, she's owned in the womb, since she bred it. If you read the OP, this has only progressed in the last few months.

    If the horse were born claustrophobic, it would have shown this behavior at this or greater intensity LONG before it's 9th year on earth.
     

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