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My gelding Luca is perfect in traffic, he doesn't mind sheep, cows, other horses, dogs etc, is gentle with little kids (not adults, though :shock:) and an overall great horse. However, whenever he smells or sees a pig (even from a distance) he goes all rigid and tense, wide eyes, doing these quiet, trembling snorting sounds. He is literally on the verge of bolting. When I keep leading him, he'll try to look back at the pig/s in a worried manner and he'll try to get away as fast as he can.

Last time we encountered pigs was yesterday. We were out for a little afternoon trek along the road and there was this pig by the side of the road, behind a fence, but still close. Luca stopped and stared. I talked to him in a calm voice and got off, intending to lead him past. Luca tried to rush past the pig, causing him to nearly run into a road marker (one of those red and white pole thingies). He kept trying to burst into a trot, but I turned his head towards me, disabling him to bolt.

This happens EVER TIME, and I'm sick of it. Are there any ways to desensitise him to pigs? We can't avoid those pigs when we go out on farm treks, so I need some way to help Luca overcome his fear if I want to keep riding around the neighbourhood.

Suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 

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I don't blame him. Pigs are terrifying. (just kidding.........)

I am sure that your horse can learn to ignore the fact that pigs are terrifying if you expose him to them repeatedly. I would lead him back and forth by the pigs over and over again until he realizes that they won't kill him.
 

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My horse is the exact same way with llamas. He even remembers the field where he has seen them in te past and gets a panic attack even when there are no llamas there! I don't have acess to the llamas or know the owner. I make him settle down when we approach the llamas and get over his anexity everytime we go by but everytime it's still bad but getting slightly better.

I read that uncut male llamas give off the same hormone as stallions which is why horses have such an issue with them. Maybe pigs are similar and your Luca thinks there are stallions nearby. That's what I think my geldings issue is as well.

My advise is keep working on it make your horse settle down before continuing on past the piggies. It's frustrating I know. Our best trail head goes right past a pen on llamas so we feel your pain.
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Thanks so much for your replies, we'll keep working on walking/riding past those pigs.
 

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I don't blame him -pigs stink. None of the horses I've ever owned like the smell of pigs. They all reacted to some degree or another.

The only way I can see getting him over that is to own one so he can smell it every day.

If you think that's bad, wait until you ride up in the mountains and come upon a still-steaming pile of bear dung -- then you will really see Betty Davis Eyes on your horse - lol lol

Llamas are intimidating, especially the males. I have one horse that needed oxygen when he encountered the male llama on an organized ride. I have another horse that I dropped the reins and said "get him" and he did but his No Fear reaction is rare. That llama had already gotten 3 or 4 people dumped of their horses that day.

My gelding Luca is perfect in traffic, he doesn't mind sheep, cows, other horses, dogs etc, is gentle with little kids (not adults, though :shock:) and an overall great horse.
IMHO, he could be cut some slack for the pig issue, based on ^^^^ :) :)
 
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I have a friend who recently came off her horse when a wild pig was rooting around adjacent to a path she was riding on. She said that she didn't hear the pig until she was on the ground, but assumed her horse reacted to the smell as well.

She has llama's on the property adjacent to hers, but the llama's are both females and both her horses seem to be fine with them.

*****

We have quite a few turkey buzzards (not sure if that is what they actually are, but that is what people call them in our area - https://www.google.com/search?q=pic...7OoePkAefsIDQAw&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1093&bih=498) that like to clean up road kill. Generally, there will be 3-4 of them around a carcass. The last two times we rode pass a group of them, at least one flew away into the woods and made a huge ruckus. My 16.2 QH got very 'up' and white eyed, but I was able to get him pass the birds and any issues by making him walk on & keeping him occupied.
 

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My horse also used to freak out over llamas. But the best thing I found to do is just ride him through it. I don't think its beneficial to get off; that's just going to get you hurt. Stay on him and try to calm him down. The WORST place you can ever be is in between a horse and something he's either A. Mad at or B. Scared of because that's when their natural "Fight or Flight" instincts kick in and most of the time, that instinct will overtake the horse (at least for a little while) and he will forget how close you 2 are to either run or protect himself.

So my advice is stay on him and make him stand there until he calms down. And by calm down I mean that he isn't tense and will follow your commands completely. When they scare at an object the best thing to do is make them touch it. My best friends horse use to freak over inadament objects (anywhere from a ball or log to tarps and such). We finnaly broke him of that by simply making him calm down and making him touch the object or walk over the tarp, e
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My horse also used to freak out over llamas. But the best thing I found to do is just ride him through it. I don't think its beneficial to get off; that's just going to get you hurt. Stay on him and try to calm him down. The WORST place you can ever be is in between a horse and something he's either A. Mad at or B. Scared of because that's when their natural "Fight or Flight" instincts kick in and most of the time, that instinct will overtake the horse (at least for a little while) and he will forget how close you 2 are to either run or protect himself.

So my advice is stay on him and make him stand there until he calms down. And by calm down I mean that he isn't tense and will follow your commands completely. When they scare at an object the best thing to do is make them touch it. My best friends horse use to freak over inadament objects (anywhere from a ball or log to tarps and such). We finnaly broke him of that by simply making him calm down and making him touch the object or walk over the tarp, etc...

Maybe you could get a pig and pin him across from where your horse is kept. That way, he will desinsitize while you're not there for him to push around. Then eventually, after a lot of work, I would want him to be calm enough for the pig to enter into his space without him running from or attacking it...
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I am sure that your horse can learn to ignore the fact that pigs are terrifying if you expose him to them repeatedly. I would lead him back and forth by the pigs over and over again until he realizes that they won't kill him.
Don't be so sure. Some horses just don't get over pigs. I have 2 of them. They are controllable but they do not accept pigs without getting tense and making a rider take hold of them and making them not turn around or try to leave.

I have gone so far as to buy a pig. She lives in an old barn with a big tree and pen out in front of it. I cannot tell you how many days these horses have been tied to that tree for hours at a time learning to 'like' the pig. This has worked with some of them but two still think she is a horse eating monster. [She is danged ugly. She might scare me if I just ran across her.] I also can't tell you how many thousands of trips they have made going back and forth past the pig pen until they walked quietly past it. Then, the next time, I had to do it all over again.

If you find a way to get one completely over it when it is like this, I would like to know how, myself. The reason I would like to know how to do this is because we run into feral hogs in the hills and canyons we ride in. Some of them have showed fear of hogs for 5 years or longer. That is how long we have had 'Lipstick' and they still hate her.

The guys around here that hog hunt on horses or mules, raise them around pigs. Then, they could care less. Otherwise, some just don't like them and don't trust them.

We keep some Bison. All of our horses could care less about them. New horses frequently are really fearful of them, too.
 

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Cherie, I got attacked by a sow when I was in school, and I totally sympathize with the horses that are afraid of pigs.
 

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I would just stick the horse in with a pig. My horse is scared of pigs too, but he doesn't really have an option to flip out. I don't give him the chance.

As for cows... He is scared of black and white cows. Very afraid. I brought him to my grandpa's house, where he has two cows which are brown.. And he was completely fine. He let the cows lick him and would stand quietly next to them. But as soon as he seen another black and white cow, he flipped
 

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Thanks for your input, everyone. :D

The pigs that we ride past are both sows, and they are huge (and pretty ugly, too. :shock:). We put Luca on a paddock that was right next to the paddock of some pigs once, and he calmed down eventually. I tried riding him along the road that those pigs graze close to, and he freaked out again.

We can't get a pig, my parents absolutely hate them :lol:
Next time I ride past the pigs, I'll stop right next to them and wait until Luca relaxes. There's one problem, though. The pigs are right by the road, so if I stop, Luca stands right in the middle of the road. And it's a corner, too. I'll just stand him a bit further up the road, then, where the pig is still close but not AS close.

Thanks everyone!
 

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The barn where I used to board had a breeding farm at the way back of the property, and there was a pig that lived back there and occasionally had piglets. I'd occasionally ride with a couple of ladies back there, and every time we would turn the corner towards the back their horses would start being really looky.

Whenever we'd get about halfway towards the barn they would both stop and shout at me "Remember! THE PIG!!" as though I had somehow forgotten about its existence since our last ride together :-o I'd just be like... oh yeah... and go back with them because they wouldn't go any farther. My guy wasn't particularly fond of that barn, but whether or not it was the fault of the pig was a different question. I could ride him by it, but he didn't like it and was constantly trying to look at it. Maybe because of the pig, maybe because he'd pick up on the anxiety of the other riders and their mares. It was bad enough that those two ladies wouldn't go near it, but they were mostly arena pleasure riders that probably didn't see any great need to fix the issue.
 

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They used to say that most Irish horses didn't mind pigs because they were often kept with them on farms
I wonder if its because pigs are predators and will eat flesh - boars are really aggressive.
I wouldn't hold out too much hope of desensitizing a horse to pigs - we had a pony that was as bombproof as they come and rode past a field full of pigs almost every day for years but still hated them
The best you can do is teach your horse that being afraid of them is one thing but he has to listen to you and not leap away or try to bolt past
 

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When my mare was first starting her career as a trail horse I used clicker training (without the clicker, just saying "good") on things that were scary to her. She really got into that and looked for things she thought would be worth a treat if she touched. We went to my friends who had a pot belly boar. I had to stop my mare she was so eager to touch him and win a treat! Very food oriented mare. :)
 

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I would just stick the horse in with a pig. My horse is scared of pigs too, but he doesn't really have an option to flip out. I don't give him the chance.

As for cows... He is scared of black and white cows. Very afraid. I brought him to my grandpa's house, where he has two cows which are brown.. And he was completely fine. He let the cows lick him and would stand quietly next to them. But as soon as he seen another black and white cow, he flipped
Hmm... don't pigs have teeth and no problems eating meat? I've heard of pigs eating each other. I don't think I'd lock my horses up with a piggy. My luck things would go very bad.
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It is perfectly natural for horses to be afraid of pigs. pigs will attack horses! that is a fact and not an excuse for them being bad mannered.

Some horses will get to accept them but. In agreement with Cherie, some will not and you can buy a pig and have it wandering around so the horses get use to it but, they will still react to strange pigs.

I use to clip a horse that was scarred from the outside of his knee to halfway up his shoulder where a sow had gored him. Another I know of was put down when a sow tucked him through the lower leg and severed the deep flexor tendon.
Both these were turned out in large acreage with a few pigs.

Instinct can be very strong and to us often seen as unreasonable. A local horse transporter came to take the horses from the riding school to a show. A girl led her pony up the ramp, on reaching the top he spun around, flattening the girl, and charged off. Neither of her sisters ponies would go into that horsebox. All three were the type that if you pointed them at a ramp they would enter without a leader.

I thought there had been pigs in the wagon but the driver said not. What he had carried and because the back was clean and he had not washed it out, was a lion for the local zoo.
Non of those horse had ever seen a lion but instinct was to flee from just the smell. It is much the same with some horses and pigs.
 

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I would just stick the horse in with a pig.
:shock: I've kept pigs. They may look cute (to some...), but they are scared of nothing, they are brutally strong, they can move fast, and they will eat ANYTHING. Put your horse in with pigs if you want it dead.

- sorry, I know Foxhunter has already addressed this but I had to reiterate because this is important to know -

Apart from that, I can add that in Shropshire where I used to live there were a lot of pigs kept on the farms we rode past. We all 'got our horses used to them' sufficiently to ride past the pig pens without skittering across the road, and we did that through repeat repeat repeat of taking the horse past the smell, under control or in company or whatever was appropriate.

My mare was always snorty and aware when riding past pigs, but manageable. This was the stage most of the horses got to. Only one friend had a horse completely chilled about pigs and she had been kept in a field with pigs in the neighbouring field.

I once heard a lady on the radio tell about being chased by the wild boar in the New Forest while riding out with her horse. She and her horse were well used to riding in the forest, and the horse was accustomed to the smell of the boar. But on that day she had accidentally ridden into a copse and got between the mother boar and her litter. Whether her horse or her were the most scared I don't know but both woman and beast knew that they were fleeing for their lives.
 
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