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-   -   Update on food/stall aggression (http://www.horseforum.com/horse-training/update-food-stall-aggression-55696/)

justsambam08 05-23-2010 05:37 PM

Update on food/stall aggression
 
So I've spent about a week working with Ice on his food. He's great about leaving his hay, and today I tried working with his grain and he was great with that also.

The problem is now that I've tried to work with him in his stall, he turns into a statue. A ticking time bomb statue. I can almost see the blow up forming in his eyes when I work with him on his stall, and he just doesn't seem to respond like he does out in the open. Its very sad, and I don't know how to fix it. No matter what "tool" I use, my hands, his lead rope, or a dressage whip to initiate moving away from his hay, he reacts the same.....he backs away, but then just zones out, no licking or chewing, until I let up the pressure. One time he even continued to zone out after I had shut the door and walked away (I was working on approaching). I think I may have taken one step into his stall, but for the most part it was all on the threshold, and he was very uncomfortable with that, but not aggressive. I also tried working with him by having someone hold him while I was in the stall, and then working him in and out that way, and he was fine. He only gets aggressive when I'm coming into the stall. With round pen work, he is okay with me being in his space outside of the stall.

How do I fix the statue? It certainly is better than the lunging maniac horse, but I still don't like it.

kitten_Val 05-23-2010 09:18 PM

You probably mentioned that before, but how old is he? Does he react if you go into the stall (somewhere next to the door) and just don't pay attention to him at all pretending you do your own business?

justsambam08 05-23-2010 09:31 PM

He's 12. Yes, usually he pins his ears if I even take 1 step into the stall. I think because we worked on the leaving food thing, he "accepted" it, but he in general does not like me, or anyone else, in his stall with him. I should also clarify that he doesn't lick and chew when I back away, he just resumes eating his hay, and seems a little less stressed.

kitten_Val 05-23-2010 09:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justsambam08 (Post 641934)
He's 12. Yes, usually he pins his ears if I even take 1 step into the stall. I think because we worked on the leaving food thing, he "accepted" it, but he in general does not like me, or anyone else, in his stall with him

Yes, I remember this discussion. :wink: What I mean if you just stand in door, don't move, and don't even look at him for say 10-15 mins is he still all tense? That's what I did when I got my abused paint - was just standing on door every day several times.

justsambam08 05-23-2010 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kitten_Val (Post 641946)
Yes, I remember this discussion. :wink: What I mean if you just stand in door, don't move, and don't even look at him for say 10-15 mins is he still all tense? That's what I did when I got my abused paint - was just standing on door every day several times.

LOL he usually "ignores" me...but yesterday because I was making him notice me, he was very tense. I even went and grabbed a chair and sat there with the door open, and occasionally messed with him that way, and although he didn't seem any more relaxed by me sitting down, when I got up he definitely reacted to my change in posture. He threw his head and sort of looked surprised lol.

kitten_Val 05-23-2010 09:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by justsambam08 (Post 641949)
LOL he usually "ignores" me...but yesterday because I was making him notice me, he was very tense. I even went and grabbed a chair and sat there with the door open, and occasionally messed with him that way, and although he didn't seem any more relaxed by me sitting down, when I got up he definitely reacted to my change in posture. He threw his head and sort of looked surprised lol.

Hey, Rome was not build in one day! :) "Ignores" is much better then being aggressive. Frankly I'd just keep such "socialization" (by sitting in doorway) to get him used to it and be completely comfortable. He sounds like a tough one to deal with, so all I can suggest is patience and time. I'm sure it'll come, but just very slow. He just doesn't sound like a horse, which can be "pushed" into something quickly. Good luck!

justsambam08 05-23-2010 09:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kitten_Val (Post 641960)
Hey, Rome was not build in one day! :) "Ignores" is much better then being aggressive. Frankly I'd just keep such "socialization" (by sitting in doorway) to get him used to it and be completely comfortable. He sounds like a tough one to deal with, so all I can suggest is patience and time. I'm sure it'll come, but just very slow. He just doesn't sound like a horse, which can be "pushed" into something quickly. Good luck!

I think his problem is just claustrophobia and not necessarily being stall aggressive. Someone mentioned it in my last thread, and it does make sense. At any rate though, I need to get him to work through it! I just don't know if, how, or when to push him, because as he's so displayed, he holds it all in till its REALLY not okay anymore.

rtdonell 05-24-2010 09:54 AM

I have seen this issue with dogs and for them the only salution i fould for it was for a few weeks i feed the just a bite or two at a time. This teaches them that the food is yours and you are sharing it with them. Dont know if it will work with a horse or not but it is worth a try.

justsambam08 05-24-2010 10:10 AM

His food aggression really isn't the problem--its how he behaves in his stall thats the issue. I'm 99% sure that there wouldn't be a food problem if there wasn't a stall problem, because even WITHOUT food in his stall, he still gets aggressive.

At any rate, thats what I did with both his grain and hay. He got to eat a few bites, then he had to back off and wait for me to release him and let him eat the food again.

FlitterBug 05-24-2010 10:51 AM

Don't worry, you are making progress. These problems don't go away overnight, horses are not like a video game where you insert the right code and your problem is gone. Instead, horses go through a series of defensive patterns each time a little less extreme, until they run out of defenses and reasons to use them.

Remember, the are fight or flight animals, but all have a full deck of cards. The defensive pattern that you were dealing with was aggression. As long as the aggression was working for him, he had no reason to change it. When you started working to break the defensive pattern, he jumped to the other extreme, flight. Naturally, flight inside the stall is a little difficult, so he "flew" in a different way through introversion. He basically retreated inside of his body, avoiding the situation (like he would if running from it) unlike directly confronting it like he did with his fight patterns. This is why you get the "time bomb" feeling. If you close in to quickly on a horse in this state, an explosion is exactly what you get.

What you do is exactly as kv said. I personally have sat in horses stalls for over an hour with a book or magazine until they relax. Once they do relax, sometimes I won't even approach them, I just leave. He will lick, yawn, and chew, you may just have to wait a little bit. I was working with a paso with extreme introversion issues in the stall that took over an hour to relax the first time I worked with him. Within a week he was meeting me and every other person at the stall door with direct eye contact and ears forward. Without that attention, it is very difficult to get work done.

Once Ice realizes that "flight" won't work either, don't be surprised if he resorts back to aggression again, its normal, but shouldn't be nearly as intense as it was the last time. You will gradually get through these until he runs out of defenses and runs out of reasons to use them. Your attention to the situation can make the progress go very quickly, as the more attentive and consistent you are, the stronger leadership skills you will be showing which is all the more reason for him to not be defensive.


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