Separation Anxiety - how do i deal with and overcome it?! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 07-06-2011, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2011
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Unhappy Separation Anxiety - how do i deal with and overcome it?!

I have a 13 month old gelding that has some SERIOUS separation anxiety issues. He was separated from his mother at 2 months old (unfortunately this was out of my control - he was sold on far too young to the breeder i later bought him from) and I was never initially told - the breeder explained to me that his mother had orphaned him, meaning he was very emotionally attached to people. I took this in my stride upon purchase - this wasn't going to affect my decision to buy in any way whatsoever!

However, recently his issues regarding being left alone have become increasingly clear. As he has matured, he has moved from paddock to paddock and now a mixed geldings field now he has had the chop. Before, when in the paddocks with only one other youngster, he used to follow me around and come galloping over and whinneying when i brought him in at night - obviously lacking adequate equine company, we have developed quite a strong bond. Now that he is turned out with a larger group of horses, he is showing signs of great distress when separated from them or me for any length of time. He is perfect in his stable and has excellent manners, provided I stay with him. I emphasise that it really is when I am with him, and not just anyone - he understands when I am not with him and screams at the top of his lungs and spins in circles in his stables, even if someone else is stood with him. If left alone he sometimes settles if the yard is quiet. If there is alot going on, however, he rears in his stable and becomes increasingly distressed.

He is the same when tied up. Naturally, as he is a youngster I never leave him unattended when tied up. But if I even move out of his sight (I sometimes hide to test his reactions) he weaves back and forth on the end of the rope, messing on the concrete and screams and paws the ground until i come back. Today he even reared several times, which was new and quite a concern as although he obviously does not like being alone he has never reared up before.

I am very concerned about how I am supposed to manage and overcome this sort of behaviour. With regards to the stabling issue, I have had to temporarily switch stables for one that has railings across the door to remove the fear of him attempting to jump out. I just dont know how to help him, or reduce his anxiety! I am very anxious on how this behaviour will mature as he gets older. I am desperate for any advice - please can someone help?!
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post #2 of 3 Old 07-06-2011, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Uk
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Have you had a youngster before?
How are your stables, are there side bars so he can see horses next to him or are they solid walls?

Also you note he has moved from field to field already at just a few months old so he has no stability yet, and he's been gelded.

It is perfectly normal for a yearling to act that way when tied up and left alone, I would be more concerned if he did not exhibit such behaviour.

He is a baby, he needs some security and some stability, the rest can be dealt with as he matures (such as teaching to be tied etc.)
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post #3 of 3 Old 07-07-2011, 04:07 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Northern Ontario
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I do agree with Doe to an extent, but as a yearling he's entering a prime learning age. If you always come back to him as soon as his starts acting up (not necessarily saying you do), the first thing that will go through is head is "if I make a scene, all eyes are on me again and I don't need to be alone anymore".

Obviously he's got some more severe seperation issues than most horses, especially with an inadequate first few months. It's just going to take time - the more you seperate him from the herd, work with him, give him positive experiences outside of his paddock, he'll begin to come around. Same goes with you, he'll eventually realize when you leave, it's not for good - you're going to come back, just like his herd, you'll eventually bring him back, he'll see the light of day again .

Any horse who has been socialized with wether it be a human or another horse will have varying levels of seperation anxiety. It's like a child going to daycare - the first few days you'll have a raging, screaming child on your hands, but over time it will get better. The more you 'baby' him now, the more of a hassle he's going to be when he's bigger, stronger, and has become closer with his herd.
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