How to Get a Horse Over Pigs (really!) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 10-08-2012, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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Question How to Get a Horse Over Pigs (really!)

I have had horses 40+ years and never encountered this one. I moved my horses to a farm area last year. My mare has a fixation on pigs and cannot get over them. Her anxiety is extreme. Our pasture is kiddy corner to 5 huge pigs....after 6 month she almost goes near the fence line. The other pigs are 15 acres away and she fixates on them totally and daily. I cannot even ride her down the road near that farm.

She has no problem with all other farm animals, just pigs. I've put Vicks in her nostrils, fed her near the fence line, lead her by the pig farm. Short of buying a pig, I'm not sure what to do. Neighbors said I could put her in with their pigs. I'm sure she would have a melt down or run through the fence. I've fed her Quietex, herbal teas, reduced her to grass hay, but she still has to much adrenaline pumping her brain. I've taken her/ponied her with other horses....that sort of works. It seems lately that everything she does is pig motivated.

It's been 9 months now and I see no end in sight. At least she does not quiver and sweat anymore, she just stares with her eyes bulged out and every muscle is stiff. So anyone got any bright ideas on solving this pig mystery?

Any and all suggestions welcome. Many thanks!
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post #2 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 12:41 AM
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I've heard many people say of all the animals a horse could come across, that pigs are the absolute worst and scariest for them... Has anyone else heard this before too? I don't remember why it is.

Sorry, I have no idea how to fix it, other than to have a big BBQ!
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post #3 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 12:53 AM
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I don't recommend putting her in with the pigs. Pigs are oppurtunistic omnivores, ie given a chance they'll try eating your horse. Matter of fact we had a farmer on the coast killed and eaten by his pigs just last week.
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post #4 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 12:58 AM
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There is a pig breeder where my trainer and i ride around and her mare is absolutely petrified ...granted theu are the size of mastiffs or bigger and are insanely mean like charge the fence mean...but she almost went over sugar and myself trying to get away..sugar just stood there but definitely didnt like them.
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post #5 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 12:59 AM
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I'd get the horse perfect leading, absolutely perfect, facing things they don't want to other than the pigs. Then work on leading to the pigs, little steps at a time, huge reward.
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post #6 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 01:49 AM
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I'll be watching this thread intently. My gelding is the same, but with cows and miniatures/shetlands. He just stands and fixates, he shakes like a leaf, sweats up and it is near impossible to snap him out of it. Turn his head right around and he'll roll his eye towards the cow/pony then launch himself backwards.
It's quite infuriating! And his ground work is not a problem at all, he absolutely respects my boundaries, but when something gets his attention, there's no hope.

I second NOT putting her in with the pigs, if her fear is as such as my geldings, she will rather run through a fence and kill herself, than be near the pigs.
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post #7 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 07:10 AM
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Gosh, that is unusual.

Do you ride enough that she gets tired? Like huffing and puffing tired? If so, her new rest spot would be near those pigs. Since you probably don't do that, how about giving a treat at the pig place? Some people's horses seem to really like treats.

I have a friend who shows mules in open classes. A frequent competitor got tired of her horse freaking out about them and blowing her chances at placing. She put her horse in a round pen in the mule pasture. The mules were curious and after about 7 hours the horse stopped worrying about them.

Your idea about buying a pig isn't too bad. Pick up a weaner at auction, use it to desensitize your mare for a week or two and sell it through the ring again. Or, house break it and leash train it and rent it out to others whose horses are afraid of pigs. Like Kayty's horse!
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post #8 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 10:19 AM
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I'm interested in the answer as well.. my boarding barn could qualify as a petting zoo. We have a pair of alpacas, a llama, a donkey, a pig and a pygmy goat.. not to mention the cats and dogs. The only one that Indie even gives a second glance to is the pig (who has been at the barn since he/she was a piglet).. the dogs will run past her full speed and she barely flinches but she thinks the pig is going to eat her! She also seems to have a fixation on the pumpkin that's been sitting on one of the picnic tables.. every time I bring her out to hose her off, I have to drag her past it because she can't stop looking at it.
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post #9 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 11:37 AM
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I couldn't help but laugh at your stories. Why does it always seem to be the pig. We owned and bred pigs for a couple of years. the pig pen was in the stable paddock and alongside the pigs pens we used to keep the lucern. And of course the pig feed. Let's just say it wasn't very long before all fears dissapeared in favour of the pigs' feed. We had a devil of a time keeping them out of the pig sty. The pigs sometimes complained a little, but the horses would just remove his nose out of reach and continue the second the pig backed of.
Boots - bugger a weanling, if you've ever seen a day old piglet sitting on his bum suckling a bottle you'll go running to the nearest pig farmer for a little runt. One of our sows sadly died giving birth to thirteen piglets. We had to raise ten of the little ones by hand. I do believe it may oficially be the cutest thing on four legs.
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post #10 of 27 Old 10-09-2012, 11:40 AM
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It is absolutely instinctive that horses are afraid of pigs.

The reason is that a pig can and will attack a horse and if you ever see one that has been gored by a pig you will understand why that fear is hard to break.

One 14 hand pony I knew had run with pigs most of his life when one day a sow just gored him Her tush entered his leg just above the knee and he was torn open to nearly his withers.

Strongly instilled instinct is hard to break. It is there in their minds.

A haulier came to take some ponies to a show. We used him every time and nothing was difficult to lad. The first pony went up the ramp, spun around and knocked his child owner off her feet. Whilst he was being caught the next pony did exactly the same and the third went to the foot of the ramp and pulled away. All three were the sort that you led to the ramp, threw the rope over their necks and they loaded on their own.

I went into the lorry and had a musky smell. The haulier had carried a lion to the local zoo. Non of the ponies had ever been near a lion but instinct told them that it was danger.

So it is with many horses and pigs. You can have a pet pig and keep it free range about the horses and some will not care whilst others are genuinely terrified. They might well get use to that particular pig but still be frightened by strange ones.

I would not try leading it past as they can get to strong to hold - all you can do is to ride to where the horse is comfortable, then a couple of more steps forward each day.
Hate to be a pessimist but when they are really bad they are never really able to get over it.
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anxiety , pigs , problem behavior

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