Need Help! Anxious horse that paces in EVERY Living condition you can think of!
 
 

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Need Help! Anxious horse that paces in EVERY Living condition you can think of!

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        05-31-2014, 01:22 AM
      #1
    Foal
    Need Help! Anxious horse that paces in EVERY Living condition you can think of!

    Hey I am really desperate for some help
    My horse is a 17.1hh 8 year old Oldenburg gelding (Three day eventing)and has extreme anxiety issues. He copes with any sort of change or stress by violently pacing in the exact same pattern. He gets tons of excercise (6 days a week, dream to ride) but always seems to do this no matter how tired he is. I have owned him for a year now, and he has gotten significantly better but there are certain things that trigger him. A horse walks by, his buddy goes into the barn, he sees horse in a field, he wants something on the other side and he still looses it. He is not alone... he has super gentle older horses stabled with him( in the same space) and around him.I have put him out in the field but he gets extremly attached to one horse and when a child needs to bring the old horse in my horse becomes dangerous to himself and the child. Otherwise he will pace up and down the field for hours until someone brings him in( to continue to pace inside till that horse is back with him. At competitions he paces in his stall unless the odd time, he is stabled in the middle of horses that are touchable on all sides then he is calm. I have tried barrels in the way and he will jump them to continue his pattern. Its almost like a stance and as soon as something blocks it he will snap out of it. He is causing so much stress on his joints that they are starting to make cracking noises now :( My coach doesnt know what to do anymore with him. She suggested maybe hobbles but im sure he would kill himself in those. He only cares for one certain horse, doesnt matter how many other ones are there unless it is that exact one. Im SICK of watching my horse be unhappy in EVERY living condition I put him in! Field, in and out paddock, horses in with him, without horses. He becomes dangerous in this state of mind and strikes out and kicks out if you try to claim your space ( I do before I catch him when he is like this) I just want him to be a normal horse. Ugh any suggestions?
         
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        05-31-2014, 08:34 AM
      #2
    Super Moderator
    I'm sorry you have to deal with this. It is just the horse version of OCD. I really do not have a good answer for you. I have seen them, but have managed to not buy one. The ones I have known destroyed their legs with this constant pacing. If a horse turns on a hind foot every time they change directions, it will really mess up hocks and stifles and lower hind leg joints. I would think it would be no easier on one's front legs.

    I would probably tie him up --- and then I would expect him to pace for the distance the rope let him pace. Tying one away from other horses works so well for horses that are herd-bound that I would sure give it a try.

    If you do this, you will have to tie him with something unbreakable to a high place where he cannot get hurt. He must be tied wither height or higher. We had it take 3 days, tied for 10 hours at a time, for one mare to give up pawing, whinnying and pacing when she could not see her buddies. She was so stupid about it that she could not be shown. After 3 days of being tied, she just gave it up and stood completely relaxed, resting one hind leg. She was hauled and shown after that where she could not be shown at all before.

    I would also put him on a good Magnesium supplement. Adding Magnesium to a horse's diet can really settle them down. It works very well for nervous horses so it is reasonable that it might at least help settle this horse down.

    Good luck with him. Cherie
         
        05-31-2014, 09:02 AM
      #3
    Yearling
    I know this movie well. My horse, who I've had for more than 15 years, can be an OCD pacer like yours. I've worked out what triggers it, some of which is manageable and some of it isn't. Adding to the complication is the fact that she needs to be in individual turnout as she is a danger to herself and others when in a herd. She will stop pacing and come to you and practically put the halter on herself if you go into the field to "rescue" her, and she isn't aggressive. So that's a whole different issue you have there.

    Try to work out what causes yours to pace and see if you can figure out what can be changed in his management to reduce the pacing. This might mean moving barns.

    Triggers for my horse include lack of routine, both for herself and other horses on the yard; being in a field where neighboring horses can go out of view behind a hill or whatever; not sharing a fenceline with other horses at all; bad weather; me riding another horse at the yard; being too attached to one other horse.

    With the routine thing, I've stopped keeping her at DIY yards, which isn't really a thing in the States anyway, but it is very common here in the UK. Owners turn out, bring in, feed, etc their horse as suits them, so all the horses on the yard are on different routines, which vary from day to day. This turns my horse into a pacing mess.

    I make sure she is at a yard where the set-up suits her. She's in her own bit of field, but with horses on all sides. The fields aren't huge and they are on fairly level ground, so the horses can't disappear. Because there are more than half a dozen horses she can interact with over the fence, she doesn't get too attached to any particular one.

    Sometimes (well, it's Scotland, so a lot of the time) the weather sucks and sometimes I get paid to work with another horse. In those cases, life is tough and she is going to pace. I suppose the weather thing could be workable if she had a field shelter, but show me a livery yard with individual field shelters for each horse, and I will show you Santa Clause. So I have to live with that. But my management and finding the right barn for her has significantly reduced the amount of things in her life that set it off.

    So look at how your barn is run and see what can be changed or what other barns might offer in terms of a boarding situation that will better suit him and his neuroses. It is a pain.
         
        05-31-2014, 09:20 AM
      #4
    Yearling
    As an addendum, I usually love Cherie's advice, but I'm not convinced it would work with a pacer. It is like they are smoking crack and when stressed, desperate to get their pacing fix. For your standard herdbound behaviour, it's great. But at least in my case, this wasn't that. My horse was quite happy to be taken out of the field, ridden, hacked out on her own, whatever. You could have tied her up somewhere by herself all day and she wouldn't mind. But it wouldn't have changed what she did as soon as you turned her loose in her field.
         
        05-31-2014, 09:23 AM
      #5
    Weanling
    You might also get a blood check done by a knowledgeable equine veterinarian. I knew one horse that had strange habits, and it took years before the owner found the problem through a blood test.
    Palomine likes this.
         
        05-31-2014, 09:35 AM
      #6
    Weanling
    Has he ever had a significant amount of time off? It may not be feasible to do -I don't know what your goals are for this horse. But it just kind of struck me as I was reading that down time seems to be a trigger. He may not know how to relax or what to do with himself. I would be tempted to give him a year off to just be a horse with a buddy to teach him the art of the afternoon nap, the evening roll in the dust and the morning gallop to stretch the kinks out.
         
        05-31-2014, 09:52 AM
      #7
    Super Moderator
    Quote:
    I really do not have a good answer for you.
    Quote:
    I would probably tie him up --- and then I would expect him to pace for the distance the rope let him pace. Tying one away from other horses works so well for horses that are herd-bound that I would sure give it a try.
    As you can see from what I wrote, I am not sure this would help at all -- but I would give it a try.

    I would also try ulcer meds. I cannot imagine a horse that is this anxious and unsettled would NOT have a tendency to have ulcers.

    Nothing ventured -- nothing gained. I would try anything that I thought could possibly help. If it doesn't help? Well, status quo isn't working either.
    smrobs and MN Tigerstripes like this.
         
        05-31-2014, 10:29 AM
      #8
    Foal
    Have you tried placing a stainless steel or acrylic "mirror" in his stall?

    I have zero-experience in this area -- and I would never presume to have even a smidgeon of the knowledge that Cherie has (if I ever grow up, I want to be just like her! ) -- but I did some research last year on weaving/pacing because I was considering buying a horse that did it. Some people swear that mirrors decrease the activity. Others haven't had any luck with it. I suppose mirrors for horses are kind of like ThunderShirts for dogs. (We bought one for our insecure-dominant dog, and it didn't work at all; but I know people who think they're miraculous.)

    ASPCA has a good article on Locomotor Sterotypy (repetitive movement) that may be of interest to you. Here's a link: Stallwalking and Weaving | ASPCA They also recommend stall mirrors.

    If he were mine, I wouldn't hobble him. I would install a stall mirror and keep him stalled for the time being. See what happens. (He's getting plenty of exercise, if he's ridden six days per week; and I hope he'll attach himself to "the horse in the mirror.") Just a thought.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
         
        05-31-2014, 11:03 AM
      #9
    Green Broke
    Hi Analiseskyler - welcome to the forum.

    How much history do have on him? He may well have been born just a little off plumb but there was probably that first instance in his past that started this whole mess and had that been addressed then you wouldn't be in your current pickle. Finding out what it was can help build the best solution. Where you're at, will they let you have companion animals? I'm thinking of a critter that can stay with him constantly - waiting in the turnout for him, travelling to shows with him, etc. This is a solution that is a cop out as it doesn't address the real problem but just deals with the symptoms. Btw, if a companion was possible it had better be younger and healthier than your boy so its life span can at least match most of your boy's.

    I hope you find something that will help him.
         
        05-31-2014, 04:06 PM
      #10
    Showing
    Perhaps it's time to reassess his diet. Horses are often over indulged when it comes to feed, worried about the horse getting all the vitamins and minerals they think it needs. If not done in conjunction with regular bloodwork an imbalance can be created.
         

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