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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sassy is a almost 15 year old full Thoroughbred.


I'm using her as my main show horse, and 4-h horse. Me and her get along really well and she is my favorite horse to work with. Her owner things she has really bad anxiety.


We never stall our horses except if they have a foal, or if I bring them to the fair. Sassy had a foal and with the foal in there with her she was fine. But all alone in a stall she is a nightmare. She will go up to the gate and swing like there is no flippin tomorrow. She swings so fast you can't catch her or touch her easily. Then she will run to the back part of the stall, run up again and swing. Our stall is in the corner of a shop which is about 14' X 14', then there is a door and the stall angles to that so that part is about the same size to so its deffo not to small for her. She will swing if the door is full open, half open, or closed it doesn't matter. My stall at the fair last year was 7.5' X 7.5' and my friend had a horse about the size of Sassy and she had to put him in there diagnol and he couldn't move except his head, luckily he didn't care, now Sassy would probably break the stall down. I'm going to talk to the stall assignment person and ask them to put me in the barn with 10 X 11 stalls and there is a lot less traffic in that barn.


Her owner is going to talk to the vet about her having anxiety. She is the same way in our big stock trailer, if we don't tie her to the back of the trailer she will swing and spin the whole ride (once 1 hour). I'm not sure if they would let me tie her in a stall at the fair though :/


So how would you approach this situation?


She will not calm down at all by just leaving her in there and 'waiting' until she calms down. She will do this violent swinging for hours...

We have tried a wide arrangement of stall toys and she doesn't even notice them, with hay she will run and get a mouthfull then run back and start swinging again.


I can get a video of her doing it tomorrow, but its extremely bad how much and how fast she swings.

We have also put her in a stall where I practice sometimes, there were no other horses in the barn, but there were 2 in the areana that she couldn't see and she still did the violent swinging. At home if there are no horses in that pasture she won't do it, but if there are others she will.


We are willing to try anything.
 

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Have you tried putting her in the stall and walking away? I just started to stall my 2 year old filly in the barn for her breakfast, and she has never been in a stall before this, and I have been doing it for about a week now. When I put her in her stall, and close the door, she will instantly start pawing at it and winnying, but I will ignore her and walk away, once she doesn't see or hear me she will eat her breakfast and go to sleep.

So just try putting her in and ignoring her, walk away to somewhere she cannot see you. It is worth a shot, as it worked for me! Your horse will learn that being bad is not going to get her any attention or get her out of the stall.
 

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Ever thought that maybe she's had "bad expierences" in a barn?

When I first got my gelding he would refuse to walk into a barn and once in the grooming stall he's freak out, work himself into a sweat, trembly, etc. he was a nut! Come to find out from his previous owner he must've been pretty traumatized in his earlier years in a barn. SOMETHING happend. No idea what though.

We've since moved barns and even though he's a lot better at this new barn he can still be alittke huffy about the barn
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
We have walked away, I've went and worked with other horses and you still can hear her swinging.

We think she did have a bad experience in the trailer, when we first got her if she would even see a trailer she would go sycotic but now she walks right in. In the summer we would leave the door open so the horses could come in and she would go and stand in there all alone. When I'm saddling I usually bring her in there, it takes a few minutes to get her to stand still but she will calm down eventually. Some days she is worse than others, but she will always swing. Today it took us 20 mins just to catch her and stop her swinging, some days once you walk in the stall she will calm down. Just depends on the day.

She is the boss mare, so I'm not sure if that has something to do with it.

*I also took her to a barrel racing clinic where we got stalls, and she did the violent swinging there to. I have to say it was worse there. I barely got her front boots on, and wasn't able to get the back ones on.
 

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Can you associate stalls with something she enjoys? Does she liked to be scratched, groomed, etc? Does she get grain?

I say this because in the past few months I've dealt with three horses who have anxiety about small places, due to the same situation they came out of. They were enclosed for many weeks, two horses to a stall, in a small, dim race train stall (10 x 10 I think?) without ever being brought out. They, understandably, had severe problems with small spaces after that.

One in particular, the little filly I'm still rehabbing (LONG story), has been cooped up most of her life, due to first being in that situation, then getting EHV and being very contageous for a month. She then had her ear sliced and she had to be stalled again. So of course she gets very upset when I try to bring her into a stall. She doesn't rear, but she'll tense up and lift her body 'up' and press her buttocks down, roll her eyes, swing her head, etc. If you suceed in getting her in, she'll pace.

So I started feeding her grain to her in the stall, and letting her out the moment she was done eating. Start short, maybe a cup or two of her grain (hay pellets works too if she doesnt need grain) , let her eat that, and bring her right back out. Gradually increase that, until she can be left for 30 minutes to an hour with nothing to eat. Its all about her feeling comfortable and associating the stall with nice things. I groom Kenzie (the filly) in her stall also, and always make sure to give her a nice scratch in her favorite spot before I bring her out. She has completely stopped shying at the door and balking, and is calmer in the stall. Not 100% calm yet and she tends to panic if she doesn't see another horse, but its a work in progress.

Your mare might have seperation anxiety too. If thats the case, maybe a pony or a goat would calm her nerves? You said she was ok in the stall with her foal. She might just very much dislike being 'unprotected' by her herd.
 

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Try tying her in the stall for a while, and then lead her out. Try that for a week. Only bring her out when she is calm. Then tie her in the stall for a while, and then turn her loose. Does she still freak out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks!

If you are in there physically working with her she will calm down, but once you unclip the lead or walk out she starts swinging. She was also a horse in racehorse training.

She used to always have her grain in the stall, but some days she would finnish her grain and the moment after that she would start swinging, there was no in between, or she would take a bite then swing, grab a bite, then swing.

The thing is that she does this when there are no horses around also. At the fair she has to be in a stall alone, for 3 nights. They have a pasture there but I can't put her in there because she will go beat up the other horses. So I don't know if anyone has had experience with doing the moment she gets worked up, take her outside and work her hard then giving a break in the stall?
 

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What about hanging a hay net outside her stall? I know a lot of racehorse people do that. It might help her calm down. Just on the outside of the door so she can still reach it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That is a good idea!

It is kind of hard to do with how her stall is set up though. I will take a picture of it tomorrow. I don't know if they would let me do that at the fair though :/ They are really picky.
 

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So she has to be completely alone, no companion animal (goat, pony, chicken, mini donkey, etc) whatsoever?

I hate to say this but if you can't resolve the problem, she may just not be a good cannidate for showing. If she's that terrified of being alone a stall, its not right to keep her there, ESPECIALLY in a 7.5 x 7.5 foot standing stall. Thats enough to make any decently sized horse uncomfortable.

Does she swing in the trailer?

Worst come to worst, you could just show within an hour or two of where she lives and trailer her the morning of the show to where she will be showing, unload her, and tie her to the trailer (provided she ties well) when she's taking a break. No need to make this an unhappy event for her.
 

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By swinging I assume you mean weaving?

if this is the case then fix an anti-weaving grill or simply screw a vertical piece of wood in the centre of the door, she will be able to look out but not be so violent with the weaving.
Tying her haynet at the door will also encourage her to eat.

I am sure that some horses are claustrophobic and she might well be one.
 

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My horses get anxious if stalled out of sight of other horses. It's not an issue for me since I don't stall them much and as long as they know where the other horse is they are fine (I have to lead them towards the other horse and show them it is there, then put them in the stall).

Could you get a portable electric fence? See if you can put it up somewhere in the field?
 

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Agree with Endiku. This horse may well NOT be a candidate for overnight shows. Period. I sure wouldn't leave her all night in a strange place with behavior like this.
 
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