Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: State College, PA
I had this happen at a boarding barn as well. My horse was on layup from an injury sustained from another boarder's hose so I stuck her and my other horse into a smaller private pasture and told the BO to accept it or pay my vet bills. Well they accepted it but it meant that they had to walk an extra 100 ft out the back of the barn through the slop to get to my horses and they led them in together, 2 at a time. Well, they hired some people who weren't very horse-minded, and my mare being the complete genius that she is decided to have a little fun with them. She would dance, and power walk and get real close to them when they were leading her. So instead of being smart and either A. asking for help or B. giving her a good tug on the face...they started letting her drag them to the barn and into her stall. She has a total homing beacon to her stall and can be very prissy about getting there yesterday to make sure nobody stole her dinner. Well as you can imagine, this escalated to them just opening the gate and her running to her stall from the field. This was fine while she was trotting down the little lane, but then she proceeded to fly through the concrete aisle, through the cross tie and grooming area into her stall. She would also go after horses that were blocking her entrance to her stall or if her stall door was closed. I'm sure you can imagine how SAFE that was...and of course I was told that my horse was unmanageable. Where I had a huge cow, told the BO where he could shove it and then told him that I'm not the one letting her run loose through the barn and that she didn't do it WHEN I got her out of the pasture so it must be an employee problem.
I fixed it by demanding to show ALL his workers HOW TO LEAD my horses and by giving them a chain and telling them to use it. The first time the person who had started the behavior problem went to lead her she tried to take off and the leader gave a tug on the chain and my mare went...OH CRAP THEY LEARNED!! And put her head down and walked quietly beside them the whole way into the barn.
Now it doesn't sound like your horse is this far along in the behavior yet but he very easily could be. You have two options for this horse. You can put a chain over it's nose and let it run into the end of it. When your horse tries to rush ahead of you plant your feet and grip the lead and let them hit the end of the chain and feel the bite. They should stop if not back off in a hurry. Then once they realize that the chain means stay with me, then you leave the chain but add a second leadrope and if they rush you pull first on the plain leadrope and then with the chain to enforce the tug on the lead. This generally reconditions them to learn that pressure on their nose means stop or slow down and where they should be in relation to you at all times.
The other thing to work on is getting your horse to wait patiently. I would start by opening the stall wide open but not letting your horse into it. Stand in the aisle about 10 feet away from it and make your horse stand there. Then move a few feet closer and stand there, continuing this until you're right near it. You can either employ the chain if needed or use a dressage whip and tap their chest or neck or shoulder or hip or however you want to disengage or back them off. Once you're close to the doorway is the hard part. You can let them jig and dance and whatever at first as long as their shoulder doesn't get up to yours. If it does, then you back them off. If they try to rush past you, then you back them off. Make them learn to stand at your shoulder until you say go. Then when you can get them to calmly stand at your shoulder in the doorway then you walk them in and turn them back to face the door. Then you do the same thing only in reverse. Start at the end of the stall away from the door and work up to standing in the doorway and moving through it without rushing out.
Word of advice if you do this though...1. Make sure that the door is WIDE open for this activity so you're giving yourself the maximum amount of space. This is in case your horse does charge through the door you hopefully will not get slammed into a door frame or wedged in one with your horse. Also, make sure that your barn is sealed and there are no horses in the aisle at that point. So if your horse does charge out, let them go if it could be dangerous for you. Collect them again outside or inside, whichever way they charged and try again. 2. Make sure it is not during or near feeding time and take all hay/grain out of the stall. This is work time, not feed time and you want their attention on you and not the delicious food right out of reach.