Advice on how to stop bad behavior - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Advice on how to stop bad behavior

So my 9 year old mare does this thing when she gets nervous. She rolls her head around in a circle to calm her self down. And sometimes she does this when I'm riding her, so I was wondering how to stop this behavior. The main reason I want to stop this is because while she is doing this the reins can swing to the other side of her head, and while she does this she stops listening to me.
I know that I should be the one that makes her comfortable but sometimes she just gets really nervous.

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post #2 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 08:37 PM
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When your not with her it may be difficult to stop her behavior, it may be like weaving or cribbing and she is getting endorphins released when she does it. Is she stalled, does she have access to hay/grass all the time, is she able to socialize with other horses, does she get enough exercise. Her environment and management could very well be creating her behavior.

When your riding her though have you tried redirecting her energy when she starts this behavior? Doing things like serpentines, circles, lateral work, horses can only think about one thing at a time so if your keeping her mind engaged and feet moving she won't have time to worry. There are supplements that you can feed to help her relax, but management of her environment is where I would begin.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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She is definitely not weaving or cribbing, but I would believe it is relieving endorphins. She is never stalled unless she is injuried, but my horses go into our barn when the flies get bad enough, but they aren't locked up. She has about 1/2 mile by 1/4 mile of paddock space all year round. She stays with 2 other horses and she is 2 in the pecking order. She has feed when ever she wants to paw through the snow for grass or go to the round bale. She is a little over weight but not too much for winter time IMO. But she just is a more nervous horse, she gets spooked more easy to.

Thanks for the advice, I will keep on working with her. I have found that talking to her and petting helps a little.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 09:08 PM
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I have read on here about possibly adding magnesium to their diet to help with anxious type behaviors. The other thing you could try just as an experiment is give her valerian root, you can get it at pharmacies here. Try giving her two or three and see if that helps her relax, it takes about an hour to start working. I have used it on mine for example when my daughter was riding in a parade I gave it to her pony to help her stay relaxed. When my gelding got injured and was sensitive to letting me clean him up I gave him 5 and about knocked him out. Another time I used it was when I got a new horse he would not settle down and was just pacing, running, whinnying I gave him three mixed in some feed and it relaxed him enough to eat, settle down and broke the cycle he seemed stuck in. On some horses it works on others not so much, and I would not use it every day I am not aware of any side effects but one never knows. But as an experiment try it, you can also give it to her before you ride to help take the nervous edge off. I have seen calming aids with valerian root in them along with other ingredients like magnesium.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 09:33 PM
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Sometimes with unwanted behaviour I'll let it get started then I play it my way. ie when this behaviour starts, shorten one rein about a third so you can see her eye. Hold your hand against the front of the saddle so you don't inadvertently keep pulling. Just sit there until you feel her relax. She will lighten the pull on the rein. The immediately let the rein loosen. Do this each time she starts that behaviour and she'll realize that by doing it she winds up uncomfortable. She may swing her hindquarters around at first which means she's resisting but just let it happen. When was the last time her teeth were filed?
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-07-2014, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like good advice. Well we have never actually had her teeth filed but I asked my vet this fall to look at them and he did. He explained what he was looking and feeling for inside and out the mouth, so I felt he knew at least the basics and he said there is nothing he would be too concerned about. But he does a little filling himself but if it was anything big we have a certified person 30mins away he would send us to.
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