New horse, strange behavior?

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New horse, strange behavior?

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    04-09-2007, 03:00 PM
New horse, strange behavior?

Hello all, I hope you can help.

My mom used to own upwards of a dozen Arabian's back in the 70's and 80's (back when we lived in NC and had a much bigger farm), and now being retired from her J.O.B., she wanted to again own a horse. With that, she recently purchased a 4 yr old Arabian mare from a long time friend (over 30 years) who has always been a trusted source for purchasing quality equines in the past.

The mare was transported up to us from NC (we're in MD) and arrived at dusk last Wednesday, so we didn't have much daylight to walk her around the parameter of the pasture to try and get her acclimated to her new home.

The horse is very friendly and will allow you to approach and pet her a lot, but she is currently acting very strangely during the day when she is always allowed to be outside of her stall (only keep her in the stall at night, leave the door open during the day).

Once she is out, she does not go to any other part of the pasture except a slip of land beside the barn that faces our neighbor's house / barn. See the link below for a graphical representation of the farm layout :

Click here for overhead drawing

The mare basically ate every little piece of grass, clover, roots she could to make it a barren dirt strip (in red on the graphic).

Once at this fence line, she gallops back and forth (about 20 feet) constantly all day, since Thursday (now Monday).

We try to lure her away from it with carrots / hay, and try to escort her to the rest of the pasture, but as soon as she is free (whether we let her go voluntarily, or she makes us let go), she goes full sprint back to this little strip of dirt she has cleared, and continues to "run the fence" back and forth over this 20 foot area.

Any ideas as to why she is doing this?

My thoughts are :

1.) She's in heat and wants to get with the neighbor's horses (not sure if one of the horses our neighbor is boarding is a stallion)? Currently, none of these horses even look in her direction or make any noises to her (basically ignoring her completely).

2.) She just wants to be with the other horses... this seems somewhat unlikely, given she and her sister lived alone on a farm in NC, and they were almost always in separate stalls / pastures. With no concerns about being together / apart. When we were down at the NC farm for a week, she never displayed this type of behavior. Not only that, she doesn't make any other noises (neigh's, etc.), just runs constantly back and forth...

3.) Confused, scared of some sound or animal she's not used to seeing/hearing/smelling? We had a electronic sonic frequency in the garage to keep insects and mice out, it didn't seem to bother her the first night she was there, but since the garage points toward the middle of the pasture, we thought it might be preventing / annoying her from going there. After we unplugged it on Thursday, she still didn't want to go to the other part of the pasture. I saw a farm cat by the fence she was running (cat sometimes uses our barn to sleep in). After I lured the cat into the field to pick her up, the mare walked up interested in what I had, but then went back to running the fence.

4.) or is she just trying to make a 20 ft by 5ft mud pit, and this is typical horse action in a new and strange place?
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    04-09-2007, 04:27 PM
With your structure picture of you house and land, I would say move her into another field away from the other horses for a cuople of days and see how she goes, maybe move her into the pasture field next to where there hasn't been horses for a while?
Just a suggestion,
However it is the time for mare to come into season / heat, if the other horses come over does she shows signs of being in heat / season?
If yes then don't worry to much,
If not mopve her field for a few days or weeks and see how she goes, also you could try putting some sort of barrey up such as a strip of electric fencing?
Maybe after a few weeks or a couple more days she may get bored and realise that the other horses arnt interested in her and she start to graze like a normal horse does everyday?
I jope this is useful information for you?

    04-10-2007, 02:18 AM
I would say she wants company. That spot is as close as she can get to your neighbours horses so that where she wants to stay. This could be the first time in her life she's been on her own in a paddock (ask the previous owners). Given time she should get over this, however, some horses are worse then others when it comes to the need for company so it amy take a while.

I also ride arabians and in my experience they are an extremely social breed of horse (all horses are but arabs can be terrible for it!). All of our horses buddy up with another and go nuts if parted!

Also she is young and young horses tend to want company more than older horses.

A solution if she doesn't get over it, is to get a company horse. Either an older experienced horse or a shetland pony or something if you don't have the room for another larger horse. It will keep her company and reassure her if she is frightened.
    04-11-2007, 12:14 AM
In my opinion, she's alone, young and has had her routine changed dramatically.
Younger horses are still striving to achieve some sort of status in the pecking order. They seek structure and a designated place to fit in. She is alone and her age makes her more vulnerable to loneliness and the want of some sort of designated structure.
She's exhibiting behavior of a horse who is in a high stress situation with no comfort being given. This is normal for any horse in a new home or setting. It can be hazardous in some aspects because it increases the risk of colic. Otherwise, it is generally something you sit and wait out. She may take up to a month to settle in. If she doesn't show some sort of sign of relaxation soon, I'd begin to be worried. I'd try to mimic her previous routine as much as possible - especially her feed and her feeding schedule. If she was worked with daily, try working with her to distract her - nothing strenuous. I also suggest keeping an eye on her water and food in take as well as her bowl movements.
She may be in heat, but usually a large transition throws off a mare's heat cycle. I would assume she is trying to go back to a comfort zone in a strange place - which would be the herd near your house. She is only reacting with a normal herd instinct. Have you thought about getting a buddy? My only concern would be this may be even more stressful due to a clash in personalities or the other horse being extremely stressed as well.
I guess my advise would be to just wait it out a bit. Keep a close eye on her and monitor her. Try to keep a familiar schedule and mentally occupy her. Good luck!
    04-12-2007, 11:05 AM
My guess is that she wants company. She may have been alone in the other place, but now she's in a new place and its totally different. Is there anyway you can get a goat or maybe Mini or something? Horses are social creatures, herd animals, and they generally need something to be with whe you can't.
    04-12-2007, 05:04 PM
Thanks everyone for your inputs. Although we hadn't originally planned on getting another horse anytime soon, getting a companion is something we are definitely going to need to consider... we'll let you know

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