Spooky in a stall! HELP - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-24-2011, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Spooky in a stall! HELP

I need help to desensitize my horse in a stall! Hes five years old and perfect when hes out, hes awesome in a trailer so i'm almost positive hes not claustrophobic and i had never seen him spook until he got put into a stall. Usually i wouldn't bother with it but when we go to shows he gets stalled. He seems okay when he can see you but if he has his head down eating or hes closed in and you come up to his stall he almost flips over backwards he gets so scared. After i realized it wasn't just a one time thing i started talking to him really loud and doing things outside his stall first before i peeked in, that doesn't seem to help though cause as soon as he sees you he spooks. If he doesn't know your there he seems really calm and relaxed. After the initial shock hes okay but still nervous and gets slightly stressed which i try to avoid at all costs at shows. When you enter the stall hes still really jumpy and nervous. Knowing that he came from a farm with 70 other horses i highly doubt he has been stalled before, and if he had the nervousness leads me to believe that he didn't have a good experience in a stall. How do i desensitize him in a safe way that wont make things worse?

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post #2 of 8 Old 08-24-2011, 01:50 PM
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I would maybe stall him more & spend alot of time while he's in there. Groom him, talk to him, just sit there- let him know your in there & just stay there till he calms down. Keep Doug this till he doesn't get nervous anymore. Let him know a stall isn't a reason to be spooky. Your probably right & he just isn't used to it at all. Good Luck :)
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-24-2011, 10:55 PM
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It sounds like he's zoning out, going to a safe place in his brain to help him deal with the stress. A stall takes away his ability to escape the enemy. I'd keep him turned out but bring him into a stall for feeding. Stay in there with him and stand with your back to him. He's under enough pressure. After about 10 min. take him out for a short walk and bring him back. His stall times needs to be brief at first. Always have feed in there for him. At this point be sure you turn him out for the night. He will become eager to go in his stall in the morning for his first feeding, again, just briefly. Wear a watch so you can time his stall time and increase it by 10 min. every few days. If you rush this process you likely won't make any headway. You really don't want the horse zoning out because they always seem to come back to reality in an explosive way. You especially don't want this when riding.

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post #4 of 8 Old 08-25-2011, 12:39 AM
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Are you sure he isn't deaf?
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-25-2011, 11:51 AM
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He may have hearing problems but he's also seeing and smelling her. One needs to be careful about soothing a horse, that it's not seen as a reward. With spooky horses it's often best to ignore the behaviour and carry on. This is what happens in a herd situation. If the dominant horse isn't spooky then the others needn't be. This gal needs to be more dominant with him in how she moves around him and her approach. No need to speak loudly as that can upset him. And no pussyfooting around him as predators do that before they strike.

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post #6 of 8 Old 08-25-2011, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Horse Poor View Post
Are you sure he isn't deaf?
That thought crossed my mind too. Maybe not completely but hard of hearing so the stall walls block the sound.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-25-2011, 10:41 PM
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I've read some great things about stall mirrors. If you don't want to buy one I'm sure you could make one out of a poster frame and paint the clear plastic part with a mirror spray. Then fashion it to the stall. Supposidly it helps horses relax because they feel safe with a "friend" nearby. Like pack mentality. I've been meaning to make one for my horse just to see what he does. Maybe toys too?
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-25-2011, 11:46 PM
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If you're worried about scaring him and so you are louder, etc.. it usually makes it worse. Just go in there, act like nothing's wrong. Tell him "oh it's okay!" Brush him, rub on him, give him space. Pop by the stall and give him a treat without going in. Make it fun for him, even be a little silly as long as you keep your cool and your moods at ground zero, he'll be fine :)
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