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Help! I have had my horse for almost a year and she has some trust issues. She always had a tendency to hesitate to come in when we were putting her in a tie stall, so we changed her to a box stall with more room. For a while she came to the door very nicely and we could lead her in. Then gradually it became harder and harder to coax her in, to the point where she now won't let our other horses come in either. Our oldest horse (who was the King) passed this fall and now she is the boss. It seems to have gotten worse since he is gone. We feed hay in the field and grain in the barn, morning and evening. We feed at the same time every day. Mornings tend to be worse. She will do better for me than my hubby, but with health issues I need her to behave for him. We are careful about making the barn a safe, quiet, and comfortable place.
 

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So if you are unable to halter and lead her in as some horses would require, then separate her to a small holding area and allow the rest to go in for their food.
If the horse won't come in, feed her outdoors....
Her being left as the others go in to eat might make a bit of difference in her mindset..."don't leave me...."
"Lead mare" or not... :cautious:

Remember she is not the lead mare, you and your husband are lead and don't let the horse forget it or this will seem small compared to what you are headed for...
Humans are the superior species, or supposed to be...
If you can't move her in, move her over...outsmart her!
Or drive her off from blocking the door so the others can gain entry..
Outsmart her and show her she takes orders from you, not you from her...

Don't get in the habit of allowing your horse to dictate to you what it is doing in a situation like this...you are in charge telling the animals what to do, when to do it and where....for your safety.
馃惔...jmo...
 

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Look well at your set up before you drive any one off. Driving the one off may get you run over by another taking advantage of a clear run. How wide is the entry? What keeps them from coming in? Gate you can see through or door. Opens in or out? Is it a wide open space outside the door or an alleyway? Can you safely halter the one and walk her off or would the others vying for her space potentially cause injury? Is there a paddock at the entry that you could close off? They stay behind that gate where visibility should be much better for you to safely deal with her.

All of those asked, I would also say time for ground work and leading manner session. In and out and to her space where once safely placed and left for a bit you could reward her with a handful of grain if food motivated. Rinse and repeat until she gets that you are in charge and she needs to do as asked. The treat needs to be associated with arriving well enough after all if this and more of an association with "look a pretty horsie nicey nice in her stall."
 

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I never would let a horse dictate who gets to eat. You must reconfigure your space or your feeding methods or both so that all horses eat in peace. Possible solutions include tying all the horses, widely separated, at feeding time, or redoing your barn set up so there is more space and more exits.


I only feed a horse and a pony and two goats, and every single one of them has to be separated from all the others at feeding time, otherwise the dominant animals will eat everything. I do feed free choice hay, and that is always either far out in the pasture, where I spread a bale out far enough that everyone can eat without being chased off, or in nets on two side of a tall fence. And all my animals are friends!
 

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Agree 200% to separate all of them at feeding times, regardless of what you have to do to accomplish that. Put up fences, reconfigure the barn, stand there while they eat鈥斺斺斺-

Any alpha horse, in any herd, is going to lord it over the others where food and water are involved. Even though my true alpha horse (RIP) was a fair leader in the field, he was a snot face when it came to hogging not only food but the water tubs.

I had five water & salt stations for four horses because the alpha horse would stand guard over the water tub he was drinking from and not let anyone drink from it, until he decided he needed to go eat grass.

My two remaining horses are separated by fence, they each have their own salt/water stations, and separate entrances into the barn.

As far as humans handling her 鈥- well 鈥- that鈥檚 a training issue that all the humans involved need to correct themselves on before she decides she really is the boss over the people.
 

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Just wondering....has she always come in first? Do you just open the door and the horses come in and go to their designated places without being led? Are you leading her in and she is balking?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Winnie, we just open the gate and they come in and go to their stall. We don't usually lead any of them but will if needed. She is very hard to get to out in the field with her trust issues, but can easily be lead when you get a hold of her halter. She has almost never been first in the door more often is last.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
QtrBel,
Our entry gate into the corral is a 12 ft open gate that opens either way. The corral is made of gates and not big. She stands outside the corral. The doorway to the barn is 10 ft sliding door and her stall is first with a 53 in sliding door and her stall is an open concept. It has solid walls the bottom 36 inches then rails on up and her door doesn't have the guard at the top half so she can put her head out and since she is the first stall can actually put her head out of the barn. Its hard to reach her in the field with her trust issues. I can but I need her to do this for my hubby and its men she has issues with. The others horses are safe enough as far as not getting run over and she will stop when we call out but pins her ears to let the others know not to move either. Driving her off upsets everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Horselovinguy when this first happened we simply left her outside and took the others in thinking she will figure out that to have grain she needs to come in. Well now she has said if I can't eat neither can the others. She is very claustrophobic.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We are the "boss" and I am trying to figure a way to outsmart this mare and show her that, :) but its hard. One thing to note is she always comes in for my boys ages 9 and 10. I have done some ground work but I'm not sure what else to do... She leads easily in if we can reach her so that is a big part of what we have worked on but it seems after that gate opens at feed time we can't get to her. She blanks out all the work we have done with walking up to her in the field. Any advice on catching her in the field would be good too.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just to clarify after everyone is in the barn they each have their own place to eat so no one has to fight for food. The issue is coming in.
 

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Then feed her outside. When the gate swings is it out or in? As it is panels, can you have another panel set perpendicular so when the gate opens it becomes a square that she can eat in? You would put her food there and she would walk the length of the gate then walk into that area. If the horses are calm about walking in and walking around her then she gets her feed and the rest are allowed in. It would take not quite opening all the way and having someone stand there to close it. It can be tied with a lead by tying the lead off to the panel then when shut use the snap end to snap the gate shut.
 

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Horselovinguy when this first happened we simply left her outside and took the others in thinking she will figure out that to have grain she needs to come in. Well now she has said if I can't eat neither can the others. She is very claustrophobic.
I have the same/similar idea as QtrBel...

Well, then feed her hers outside away from the door so the others can safely, easily and without being threatened by her 'tude walk past her.
I would not use anything other than a round-pen panel so the height protects the others as they pass.
If she won't come in for her "reasons"...then distract her by getting her fed first.
Then if that description is the layout of your entire barn, lock her out by barrier, or by keeping her inside her pen so she not harass the other horses who are still eating since she who starts first almost always finishes first...

Make yourself a small "holding pen" area that she goes into to eat in peace and the others also not get caught in and beat up upon by her for trespassing...when she is not inside eating close the opening so no one else goes in either.
If she is that claustrophobic, then she eats outdoors, lives outdoors and remains outdoors when the others come inside for whatever the reason...
Get her a waterproof blanket/sheet {turnout style} to offer her weather protection she will no longer have with her issues of being in...
馃惔...
 

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It kind of sounds like she is dominant and has your "number", maybe even competing with you as herd boss.Is she driving the other horses away when you open the barn door? If you can't catch her to contain her, maybe another option is a lunge whip to force her away from the others while they come in and go to their stalls. There are quite a few options above, hopefully you can find one that works for you and that you are comfortable with.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks guys for all the help. We will have to try each suggestion until we find something that works. Ill give it a few weeks till we try each one then give an update if I can.
 

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One thing we have done is try to drive her away so the others can come in but it makes them all upset when we do that. Some of them won't eat when they come in because they are nervous. If we can get her past the first gate she has the option to go in the round pen instead of the barn. The round pen is attached to the corral. She doesn't mind being in there but need to get her past the first gate.
 

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Instead of driving her away, upsetting the others can you instead try enticing her to follow you if you have the bucket of feed she wants?
It will take 2 people at first to do this as once she is following you, the other human quietly closes the gate or detours the other horses to the barn to their food waiting...
Once she figures out that food she gets to eat after doing this a few times it will get easier and she will stress the others out less too...
They learn by repetition...over and over again and again..
Each time we handle them, no matter the task, we are "training" them to act and respond a certain way...
Now to change your tactic so she learns a new trick is the trick...
Good luck.
馃惔...
 

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Try haltering her, the using a come along rope to encourage her into the barn. this works very well on a horse who balks at moving forward.
th  come along 2.jpg
 
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