Stall agression - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Stall agression

So I'm a soon to be horse owner (first horse). I'll be keeping my horse at a boarding barn where he currently already resides. He's comfortable in his herd and doesn't show any aggression towards people. He's very sweet and easy going. Great for a first horse! I'm trying to decide whether to keep him in his stall or move him to one of the run in options. There are enough run ins for all run in boarders. Having a stall is convenient for me as he's right there at certain times of the day and I don't have to go catch him etc. I'm wondering is switching to run in would be better as I'm told he's better behaved in a run in. He exhibits aggression when in his stall and feeding. He only directs it towards the other horses he can see. Today he even went as far as to kick at his stall and added a good grunt/squeal for good measure.
My question is what is this behavior all about most likely? Is it worth caring about? He's completely fine with people and he immediately stops being aggressive when we approach. It's only when eating and when he's in his stall. I just wonder if it may be possible he would be happier with a run in option and if this is why he's showing this behavior. Any thoughts or similar experiences?
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 11:41 AM
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If the current people who have to work with him are saying that he is better behaved in a run-in, then as a first time owner, anything you can do to improve behavior is always a good thing. You could always switch back if it doesn't work out for you.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 01:10 PM
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I would choose a run in if that gives him more room to move about....LOL I keep my mare on turn out all year, which means this time of year I have to turn up and extra 20 mins early to go find her, I get jealous of those who are in the run ins right by the barn....but I know that I am doing the best for the mare
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 01:22 PM
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I think what you are describing is more of a defensive attitude. Acting tough so the other horse won't even think about stealing his food. Usually they figure out that their food is safe when they are stalled, but some don't like a horse in the aisle too close to the front of their stall when they are eating. I wouldn't worry about unless it becomes extreme. As for stall vs run in, It is what is best for the horse not your convenience. I don't believe horses should be stalled longer than half a day except in extreme weather. On the other hand, I have seen poorly designed run ins with not enough ventilation or fly protection in the summer and not enough protection in the winter. Right now, our horses are on night turnout on pasture and stalled for the day. in the winter it is reversed.
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 03:19 PM
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Yes, food aggression is at play, which is a separate matter, and more created by horses feeling they have to'eat now, protect what food they have, as it will be gone, and there will be a long time between meals.
The important point , is as you admitted, stalling a horse is often for our human convenience, and not in the best interest of that horse
Yes, at least a run out, if some true turn out is not available.
Keeping a horse in a stall, full time, except for a short period of work, is not good for their over all mental and physical health
Of course, done short term, for a horse in for training, is a short term event horses can learn to adapt to, plus they are in a very regular training program
I have five very nice stalls, with rubber matte, where I kept mares and new born foals , during a severe spring storm, used to wean babies, kept my show horses in, part time, but I always worked towards full time turn out when possible, and only use those stalls now, to keep a hrose in , before a show, to tie horses up in, so they learn to accept standing tied solid, or if they need stall rest
Being a new horse owner, you are perhaps not aware of research by the likes of Robert Bowker (hoof research ) and Dr Sid Gustavson, equine behaviorist, just to mention two, but the ability for a hoprse to move, almost full time, is tied directly to heir mental, physical, hoof,digestive and skeletal health


Just one paragraph, from many articles written by Dr Sid Gustavson. I've had the privilege of hearing him speak twice,at the annual Horse breeder and Owner's conference

'It behooves humankind to take care with horses. Sensitive horsefolk respect the 60 million year development of the horse’s social behavior and development. They appreciate equine intelligence in regard to both training and husbandry, and what the future might hold.
Stabling is unnatural. Horses graze and walk together 60-70% of the time under natural circumstances, eating and moving from spot to spot independently but within a few meters of the next horse. Stable managers and horse owners should make every effort to accommodate or recreate these long-evolved herd grazing and life-in-motion preferences for proper physiological function and mental health.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your responses. I don't think his behavior is extreme at this point, and it does sound like its defensive behavior. The horses with run-ins are very near his stall and he can see them.
He's outside in pasture with herd mates as much as possible. Right now late afternoons until morning and then they are brought in while it's hot. So he does get plenty of time at pasture. But not as much as he could if he was in a run in of course.
It's such a hard decision😅
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 07:08 PM
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It does sound like a food aggression problem, I can see one thing happening if he starts kicking at the side of his stall while eating. He could develop a capped hock caused by consistant kicking and banging his hocks against the side of the stall.
Perhaps discuss this with the Barn manager and see what they think. If he is better with the outside run maybe you could try that for a while and see how it goes.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 07:20 PM
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How big are these run outs? Or are you talking about pasture board?

I'm having a hard time picturing a run out so big it's inconvenient!

Agree regardless do what is best for your horse.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-24-2016, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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I guess you would call it pasture board and each horse has access to a run in stall. Each run in stall is big enough for the horses to lay down if they want. It's very nice set up with plenty of space for them when they are out in the pasture too. If I choose a stall he will still have access to this pasture but not as much. Essentially it would be about 50-60% of the time vs 24/7. I'm thinking I'm going with the run-in/pasture board at this point. Thanks so much for all the input. Very helpful!
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-25-2016, 07:19 PM
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You can always change it later :)

Is he in with other horses in this pasture?

Oh- and congrats on your new horse!!

When I picture a run in I picture a regular barn where the stalls open up to little paddocks on the outside and the aisle on the inside, hence my confusion :)
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