Excessive Pooping / Anxiety about Pooping - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 6 Old 02-25-2020, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 1
• Horses: 0
Excessive Pooping / Anxiety about Pooping


My horse is an 8 year old warmblood gelding. He poops 5+ times per lesson. I know horses poop excessively when they are anxious, but he does not exhibit this behavior when anxious and not being ridden. Additionally, he poops at the same frequency when being lunged or worked in a way which does not appear to cause him any anxiety.

If it was just the frequency of his pooping, I wouldn't be concerned. However, his need to go seems to be a cause of very real anxiety for him. This issue has been going since we started him under saddle. When he was younger he'd feel the urge to go (I could feel he had to go because he'd lift his back and move funny) and try to bolt a bit. Then he'd come to a dead halt, try to poop and fail, then try to run off.

Through a lot of very compassionate training my trainer and I have taught him not to run off (both when he needs to poop and generally). He no longer bolts, but he really struggles to poop and move. He is capable of it (a clinician was riding him and forced him to keep going once with serious some leg and spurs), but I can't / haven't been willing to force him. The urge to poop makes him so anxious that i'm quite concerned its pain related. I understand this type of issue is typically a training problem, but that just doesn't feel right to me.

Sometimes he poops so much that I literally can't make it once around the arena at the trot without him slamming on the breaks and trying to poop. Half the time nothing actually comes out. This is starting to become a real issue, as its very disruptive to any kind of effective training. He is not colicky, as he has many normal piles of poop in his stall each day.

I've treated him for ulcers twice. He had ulcers both times he was scoped, even though we have him on a pretty serious ulcer prevention regime. Ulcer treatment seems to help the problem to a limited degree in that he's less anxious / explosive when he needs to poop. The frequency and the struggle to move remains the same, and it obviously is still a source of anxiety for him. My trainer is similarly concerned. She said she wouldn't feel right dropping the hammer, so to speak, to make him keep moving while pooping. This is way beyond just encouraging him to keep moving, turning him, or catching him before he stops all the way. We've tried all of that.

Has anyone ever dealt with a similar issue? Has it always turned out to be training related? I'm wondering if doing an x-ray of his back or ultrasound of his intestine (i'm not sure if that's possible) is warranted. I've spoken with my vet, and she has said that its a tricky problem and the medical testing is going to be expensive if I decide to pursue it. I would rather not spend thousands of dollars to confirm its just behavioral, but I also don't want to work a young horse who is in pain.

Thanks for your feedback, it's really appreciated.
Jessica Allison is offline  
post #2 of 6 Old 02-25-2020, 02:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 585
• Horses: 1
I never had this problem with any of mine but I’ve heard some horses do this to get out of work.

ApolloRider is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 02-26-2020, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 17
• Horses: 2
I used to lesson on a horse that did what sounds very similar to your guy. He would stop to poop probably 10 times throughout our lesson, but not due to being anxious. Sometimes normal sized piles, sometimes nothing at all. He did have a pretty sensitive gut, so on days when he was out on grass or had a hay change it would be more often. I think it was a mix of having a sensitive gut but also realizing that if he had to poop, he could stop and take a quick break. Sometimes he would do this right as we were approaching a jump and stop dead from a canter. It was VERY difficult to keep him going while pooping, and my trainer preferred to let him stop anyway. I wouldn't worry too much about it unless he starts showing other clear signs of pain.
gypsyavira is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 02-27-2020, 09:53 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
Posts: 4,019
• Horses: 3
When I first got my Paso gelding, he was so nervous about being ridden, worked, whatever that he literally would poop dozens of times during a session. Now that he's much less anxious, it's down to once or twice.
SilverMaple is online now  
post #5 of 6 Old 02-27-2020, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,381
• Horses: 1
My mare used to poop a lot when she knew it was gonna be a sweaty lesson. She, and many horses, dislike moving when pooping. But we don't want them to stop in the middle of a canter or I guess for those that care, in a show. If your horse is stalled more often than not maybe all that work is clearing out his system. Maybe some gas. Maybe he actually wants to pee or there is some uncomfortable sensation that he cant seem to shake (in which case I'd get investigated). Maybe there is a lump in there that only bothers him when working or having weight on his back and it stimulates his need to poop.

My mare will go once or twice now. She has elephant sized poos tho! My rule is she has to ask to stop. When she begins to poop and slow I will make sure I* am the one to halt her. If we're trotting I will urge her on a moment and then halt and let her do her business. She gets plenty opportunities to go so I don't let her consider it when cantering and hasn't been a problem really. I don't like walking miles around the arena to pick poo up as well :P

Personally I think it should be every animals right to poop in peace and comfort. I understand why it can be unsafe or unsightly but still... Do consider the above points and maybe ask a vet to have a poke around to check. Work on any anxiety. Maybe try just a relaxed session. You get on and walk around on a long rein for 20mins. If he got no chill, like my mare at the start, might take him some time to realise he can be dressed up and still relax. But for what it is worth I have seen horses take the mick out their owners who are almost too nice and let the horse stop on its terms, whenever it wants, and essentially trains the horse that if they need to poo/pee (or pretend) they can quit work even if for a break but that the majority of horses (and dogs IME!) have something funky going on and are trying to get comfortable. Whether it be urinary track issue etc... Be interested to see other responses.
Kalraii is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 02-27-2020, 12:36 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NW Oregon
Posts: 3,221
• Horses: 0
I'm curious...Have you taken this horse out for a recreational ride (like a trail ride) where all he has to do is get down the trail in a relaxed manner? Would he still have the same issue? For the benefit of the horse (and your satisfaction with him as a mount) I'd do my best to get to the bottom of this. I can't imaging a happy horse if he's being asked to perform when he has discomfort. The fact that the medical process would be expensive is unnerving but may be the only way to come to a correct conclusion. Then again, maybe the horse will not be a good arena horse. Many aren't.

I trail ride. My horse is a stopper. I don't care. But it would not be acceptable in a show arena.

I wish you good luck with this. I know it must be frustrating.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
Dustbunny is offline  

anxiety , back pain , pooping

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome