Separation Anxiety

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Separation Anxiety

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    10-17-2011, 12:42 PM
Separation Anxiety

My 1/2 quarter horse, 1/2 arabian was in a pasture for 2 years prior to my getting him 2 months ago. Now that he has other horses around him, and one really good buddy, Hunter, he gets very nervous when I ride or walk him too far away from the farm. He handles well in the arena and in the round pen. He is very well trained, except when we try to go for a longer ride away from the farm. Any ideas on how to curb this behavior would be greatly appreciated.
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    10-17-2011, 01:02 PM
Welcome to the forum, smezera!
This is herd-sour behavior. This is one of list of horse-addictions that we fight with our horses about pretty much their entire lives. I say "Addiction" bc you can train them to behave, but a new owner can let the same horse slip back into the old behavior really easily.
Since you can ride him, he isn't a weanling or a yearling--you couldn't allow them to fuss alone bc they would injure themselves.
I say, let him call, fuss, fume and run. Ignore it. My 5 yo QH wasn't trained well enough for us to take him with the other 2 members of the herd last month. We had a program with children and I didn't want any accidents. We took out the other horses, made sure that all of the gates were secured, checked his water/food, and left him. He was there, waiting, when we came back. He recognized the trailer and followed the fence until we pulled in and unloaded.
He didn't harm himself.
We also left him in a pen when we took him out to SD to trail ride last year. He JUST wasn't quite ready for the trails--squeeled and tried to take off with me, so I "grounded him." So, he spent every day waiting for us to return. Still didn't hurt himself.
    10-17-2011, 01:16 PM
My horse and my husbands horse obviously live together and typically never have to be separated. So when the time came that they did have to be,out on a trail, I stayed on as long as I felt safe enough to handle her but when it got to where I was uncomfortable, I got off and lounged her in place. I kept her feet moving and her mind on me(as much as possible). Now we do that every time we go out, just so they can grow to accept being apart. I not only have to remind her she is safe and I am in charge, but I need to remind myself that same thing. So .... I suggest, if you feel confident, that you take your horse out as far as it takes it to get nervous, stop there and work it..hard. Circles, smaller the better, until it is thinking of you..not the other horse. And every time you go out away from the other horse, consider the fact that you are going to need that extra time to go thru this exercise. So there is my 2cents, and also watch some videos on the Larry Trocha is just one I can think of. Good Luck and always keep your safety in mind.
    10-19-2011, 03:59 AM
Been there done that, got rid of the horse. (not suggesting you do, I got rid of him for kicking me in the face)
It's an absolute nightmare! Is there a way to seperate the new horse from the rest to be on his own?? If he doesn't have a buddy then he doesn't have to be seperated from him hence no anxiety. Let me know it goes.
I asked a trainer about this and it's complicated and long term "polishing" training to keep it managable. Basically, restraint train the horse and hobble the horse when being serperated to stop the running the fence line and working himself up, then once relaxed take them off. I never got to this stage. This means hours of sitting and waiting.

The horse I owned would get himself into a state, would be exhausted and white foaming all over him, dripping in sweat and he would still keep going. He would run and call and run and call and squeal and buck and run and call and squeal and call and buck and bolt and paw get the idea. Send a sane person insane. I won't own another, I like having my 2 horse kept together and then being able to take one out and no one tries to top themselves.

Good luck!
    10-19-2011, 07:26 AM
Super Moderator
Welcome to the forum. Your horse is perfectly normal. They are a 'herd animal'. Their safety is in their herd. They have to be taught to behave differently.

Tie him up to a safe place until he gets over it. Tie him up all day if necessary. It he is still fussing at at the end of the day, put him back to eat and drink and tie him up again the next day. I have had it take 3 full days before the horse 'gave it up' and just stood relaxed.

Do a 'search' for tying for patience or for patience pole or patience tree. You will be able to read through volumes of similar threads.

I've tried every way to fight this completely natural behavior and tying a horse up away from friends will eventually teach all of them that there is life after separation.
    10-19-2011, 09:00 AM
Green Broke
I agree with all the advice given. Let him crack on. He has to realise this mewling, whinnying etc is going to get him no where. Its the same thing when people say after they've ridden 'Oh, he wasn't great today but he knows his feed is in his box/its his field time/his friends are outside' sorry, but your horse is there to do his job, and he must learn this. If anything, when you are riding, keep him distracted as much as possible. Warm him up, don't do a whole length of a school without using a cirlce, a serpentine, a turn out of the corner, a transition or four!

Herd behaviour is normal, I completely agree, but these are working horses, and he may have to relearn that you pay his feed and stabling, so play nice ;)

Hope this helps!
    10-19-2011, 09:33 AM
If you have an adjacent pasture to put him in I would do that. Have them separated but able to see each other. After a while they should be fine with it and eventually wander all over the pasture not just along the fence. I think the key is letting them know that apart doesn't mean death and danger.

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