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  1. #1
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Question Tips on getting a horse to tolerate stalling?

    I'd like to bring my mare into a stall for the worst nights, ie; blizzards, ice storms, etc. She lives outside 24/7 and has only natural shelter in the form of a treeline in the valley between two hills. It's adequate 99% of the time, and she is blanketed. But I'd really like to have the option of bringing her in if the weather is REALLY bad.

    Only problem is she loses her mind in a stall. She doesn't pace, she RUNS. She circles going a million miles an hour and doesn't stop. Screams and calls, works up a lather, just comes unglued. Doesn't matter if there are other horses around or not.

    I'm hoping the type of stalls at the place we're at will help. They're very open, grills on all four walls. I was thinking of maybe getting a stall guard, she does respect them even if she's having a meltdown. She'll also always come in with her pasturemate, who is pretty calm and nonchalant about basically everything in life.

    Any suggestions or tips? I was thinking of starting by just feeding her in a stall, then letting her out the second she's done, and then maybe trying to work up the time? That is if she's calm enough to eat...
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  2. #2
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    Nov. 15, 2009
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    IMHO, leave her out. She'll be more likely to hurt herself being goofy in a stall than she is being out in nasty weather. The only real issue with weather is when it is a really cold rain - that is the only time we would bring in the TB weanlings/yearlings. Otherwise, they were out 23hrs/day, 7 days/week. In every type of weather. They were fine. (yes, even the million dollar ones)

    If you want her in, does she tie? If she ties well, you could start by bringing her in, tying her & feeding her, grooming her, etc. Leave her tied for longer and longer periods. Hang a hay net in front of her and let her munch. After a while, untie her but leave the hay net and see if she will just munch on it and not "realize" she isn't tied.

    The open stalls should help, especially if her buddy can be in the stall next to her. *If* the stall guards help, use them. She may like being able to hang her head out and see what is going on.



  3. #3
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    Jul. 14, 2000
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    midwest
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    That is what I would do- make it positive and keep her for short lengths of time, building on the amount time she is in the stall. Do meals in the stall and keep her in the stall for 15 extra minutes the first week. The next week make it an 30 minutes or an hour and so on. Personally, if I knew a horse had a history of being a wreck in a stall I wouldn't use a stall guard because it seems like something they could bust through or get caught in but that is just me. Ideally you wouldn't take her out of the stall if she was frantic- you would get her quiet , praise that behavior then take her out.

    And if after a month of trying you find that she just isn't accepting of a stall then I would call it quits. If she does have natural shelter and a blanket she would be in good shape.



  4. #4
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    How does she tie? If she'll tie quietly, I'd be sorely tempted to tie her up, like you would in a standing stall, give her a hay bag and a bucket of water and leave it at that.

    Is the stall just a box stall, or does it have a run or door straight out to the pasture? You might have luck bringing her in to eat, particularly if she can leave when she wants to.



  5. #5
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    Unfortunately she doesn't tie, and the stalls aren't attached to the pastures. Thanks for the input and suggestions, keep it coming!
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  6. #6
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    Nov. 15, 2009
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    You can try the feeding her in the stall while she is loose, but I've found that with bad stall walkers, they often won't even stand still long enough to eat unless they are tied. The other thing you could do is just put mats down on the floor, bed the stall and bank the bedding up on the sides, and just put her in the stall and leave her. She'll run and carry on and be silly but will eventually stop or wear herself out so much she has to stop. You can also put straw bales in the stall. Full regular bales. The idea is that they will keep her from being able to get running around in a circle because she will have to avoid them. Now, that doesn't always work. A weanling that stall walked would just jump over them (she was a bit psycho tho) - cleaning her stall was always quite the nasty experience.... It was stripped every single day.



  7. #7
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    Oct. 18, 2000
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    Connecticut
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    I get all of mine trained to stall, regardless of their past turnout situations or feelings on the subject. Then, if they get sick or injured and need to be on stall rest, you've got the training done. Then it's just a matter of keeping it current.

    I start using a stall with a window that is open, and work on this during the day when he can see out the window. On a daily basis for the first few days or weeks, I start with 10-15 minute feeding sessions, then immediate turnout. If feeding is not on the horse's agenda and screaming is, start with treats, then work to food once he/she gets the point. Once the horse goes in with good manners, eats well, and comes out calm and cool, then we move up to 30 minute sessions, with food, hay and water in the stall, until he enters and exits the stall like it's no big deal. From there it goes to an hour for a while, then a few hours, then an afternoon, where it stays for a while. Then I'll bring it up to 7-8 hours, and once that's a piece of cake, the horse stays out by day and goes in for an overnighter. We go back to 6-7 hours in for a while, and then the next week, another overnighter. This takes time to do this way, but you end up with a horse who doesn't lose their brains over incarceration.

    A friend of mine used a different technique. She put the horse in for a few hours in the daylight, hung a lead rope across the door and draped a western saddle blanket over the line. After three or four days of this, she put him in, closed the door, and that was that. Technically it worked, but he always hated the stall.

    Good luck!
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

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  8. #8
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Well, in that case--drugs? I've had good luck in the past giving a nervous horse a bolus of sedation IV or IM for the initial crazies and a small amount sub q, which is absorbed over time. My situation was a little different--had to bring an injured horse in--but it worked all the same.



  9. #9
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    Jul. 12, 2010
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    If I were attempting, I'd start by leading her in the stall giving a very small amount of her favorite treat and leading her right back out. Then I'd put a couple of buckets in the stall with the treats, so she has to look around for the goodies. Still with you on the lead & door open. Once she gets that game, let her off the lead and stall guard while she searches, then add in her meal in multiple locations and closing the door while she eats. I'd go in to get her before she finishes and take her back out so she's leaving the stall before its her idea. If she's bossy and food motivated, you could also "take turns" watching pasture mate walk into the stall and get treats, then walk out of the stall so she wants in to get her share.

    As frame of reference, I acclimated my rescue dogs to their crates by making bacon and locking bacon in the crate and dog outside. Waited until the smell made them absolutely desperate to get in and then "let" them into the crate. Most its ever taken to turn them into crate lovers was two batches of bacon



  10. #10
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    Dec. 21, 2008
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    I really would be worried about using a stall guard or even a dutch type door on a horse like yours because of her panic level. Can you use the indoor arena ( if the place has one?) If not, you could just try to work up to the amount of time you put her in a stall and see what happens. What have you done in past winters with her? Why the change to bring her in now? Some horses just can't tolerate being cooped up and it may be better for her to let her decide. Too bad you can't put up a 3 sided shelter for her in the pasture.



  11. #11
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    Nov. 18, 2011
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    Toronto, Ontario
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    What's her past history like in terms of being stabled? Did she have a bad experience? Or just never been introduced to a stall and the confinement that some horses feel?

    My mare didn't like a stall when I first got her, she'd try to kick the walls down. I put her on outdoor board and she was content as that was what she was use to before I purchased her (I was a wreck lol). All was fine until an ice storm happened and my poor mare had to spend the night outside alone (very herd bound) before being able to be brought inside (not something I knew of at the time). She then spent the next 4 days in a cement walled stall (old bank barn) surrounded by other horses and she finally "got" it. She wanted to be where the horses (her "herd") were and since then she really enjoys her stall time and being able to rest and relax and eat in peace.

    I'd agree with the others in trying to start by short bursts of positive experiences in the stall with treats etc and then working up to it.

    Make sure that you are calm though and not anxious! They really pick up on our emotions even though we think we may be hiding them well!



  12. #12
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    Jan. 17, 2008
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    Dutchess County, New York
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    My horse, after being retired to pasture 24/7 would lose his mind in a stall. Is it really worth taking a risk with her for this? What about buying a run-in for the field instead? (I do realize that can be pricey, but maybe the BO would split the cost with you?)



  13. #13
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    A horse that doesn't tie and won't tolerate being in a stall is a potential NIGHTMARE if she should be injured, require confinement, transport, veterinary procedures, etc.

    How can you work safely around a horse who doesn't tie? And why hasn't that been addressed in all the years you've had her?

    TEACH HER TO TIE, for pity's sake, and to tolerate confinement, a little at a time. For her own good, and the safety of anyone who ever has to handle her if something bad ever happens. Once she can be tied, she can be tied in a stall and learn to DEAL WITH IT. Which, in the end, is what this is usually all about in horses who "can't be ___________".
    Click here before you buy.



  14. #14
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    Sep. 28, 2005
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    NE
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    I agree with the above - all our horses live outdoors 24/7 with run-in sheds, BUT I learned the hard way that if you have to stall them for any reason - illness, traveling, etc. you are in trouble ? So all of ours spend enough time in to learn it's a good place. I like to do it when it's rainy or windy or otherwise crappy weather, and always bring them in with a buddy next door who's quiet and make sure they have good food and a good experience. You may never have to do it, but chances are you will and it will pay off !

    Same goes for tying, I can't imagine dealing with a orse that won't ?



  15. #15
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    Sep. 29, 2009
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    I have runs off my stalls. That way they can stay in or out their choice.

    I usually leave a water trough at the end of the run, that way they (try) to go outside to do their poop/pee business.

    I have only rubber mats in my stalls. I pick poop out of their grassy runs.

    Easy.

    When I had a horse which required stalling, I put a water trough in front of the door out to the run, so he could see out, but not go out. My stall doors to the runs are sliding doors, and I have a plain ole wooden stall door for the fronts. May not be fancy but they are on hinges with a slide latch and it makes the stalls more - less confining because even if they lay down, and they DO on the mats - they can see out.

    I also have soft rock music and a fan if need be. Pretty much my barn is very light filled, and airy. But I can close it all if need be, and have.



  16. #16
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    A horse that doesn't tie and won't tolerate being in a stall is a potential NIGHTMARE if she should be injured, require confinement, transport, veterinary procedures, etc.

    How can you work safely around a horse who doesn't tie? And why hasn't that been addressed in all the years you've had her?

    TEACH HER TO TIE, for pity's sake, and to tolerate confinement, a little at a time. For her own good, and the safety of anyone who ever has to handle her if something bad ever happens. Once she can be tied, she can be tied in a stall and learn to DEAL WITH IT. Which, in the end, is what this is usually all about in horses who "can't be ___________".
    Geez, judgemental much?

    She doesn't tie because she's had some sort of bad experience in the past, before I got her. If you lead her up to a tie ring, and start running the leadrope through the ring, she starts visibly shaking and braces all four feet like she's expecting something horrible to happen. Eyes rolled back in her head, lips pulled tight, the whole shebang.

    With a lot of work "in all the years I've had her", I can use a blocker tie ring on her without her trying to kill herself. But it still obviously upsets her, and I highly doubt she'll ever be entirely safe to tie. So we make due. She crossties fine, and groundties perfectly. Never had an issue trailering, doing vet procedures, whatever.

    She was went to a "professional" trainer at age 3, a guy whose known to flip horses on purpose to teach them not to rear, and who sent a horse back to its owner with broken withers and refused to divulge how it occurred. So I'm not that surprised she has the baggage she does. She's improved a lot, but she'll never be 100% safe to tie.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaMare View Post
    If I were attempting, I'd start by leading her in the stall giving a very small amount of her favorite treat and leading her right back out. Then I'd put a couple of buckets in the stall with the treats, so she has to look around for the goodies. Still with you on the lead & door open. Once she gets that game, let her off the lead and stall guard while she searches, then add in her meal in multiple locations and closing the door while she eats. I'd go in to get her before she finishes and take her back out so she's leaving the stall before its her idea. If she's bossy and food motivated, you could also "take turns" watching pasture mate walk into the stall and get treats, then walk out of the stall so she wants in to get her share.

    As frame of reference, I acclimated my rescue dogs to their crates by making bacon and locking bacon in the crate and dog outside. Waited until the smell made them absolutely desperate to get in and then "let" them into the crate. Most its ever taken to turn them into crate lovers was two batches of bacon
    Great idea! Thanks for the suggestions.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  18. #18
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    Jan. 16, 2002
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    That clarifies things. And no, I'm not judging, unless you consider holding an opinion that a horse that isn't respectful of the rope in all circumstances a less-than-safe animal to be "judgmental". Because I do hold that opinion. It is a huge impediment to training. A horse that is shaking and fearful can still be worked with, however. If she is just scared but not actively doing anything destructive or reckless, that's not an unsafe horse, that's a SCARED horse. Repeated desensitization can help replace bad memories with good ones. If you just immediately untie her the moment she begins acting scared, you don't make progress.

    I have never met a horse with a "phobia" who never, ever changes even one little bit with proper remediation.

    My point being that if a horse is flinging itself around inside a stall, often tying it will simply eliminate that aspect of their irrational behavior. Naturally if they cannot be tied for whatever reason this is not an option.

    If she ground ties perfectly or cross ties perfectly, you can ground tie her or cross tie her in a stall, no? Then she realizes that standing still is a lot nicer than running around in circles, and you've eliminated one obstacle and can move on to further desensitization. I've never done it, but a lot of people use clicker training to break stuff like this down into manageable steps.
    Click here before you buy.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    That clarifies things. And no, I'm not judging, unless you consider holding an opinion that a horse that isn't respectful of the rope in all circumstances a less-than-safe animal to be "judgmental". Because I do hold that opinion. It is a huge impediment to training. A horse that is shaking and fearful can still be worked with, however. If she is just scared but not actively doing anything destructive or reckless, that's not an unsafe horse, that's a SCARED horse. Repeated desensitization can help replace bad memories with good ones. If you just immediately untie her the moment she begins acting scared, you don't make progress.

    I have never met a horse with a "phobia" who never, ever changes even one little bit with proper remediation.

    My point being that if a horse is flinging itself around inside a stall, often tying it will simply eliminate that aspect of their irrational behavior. Naturally if they cannot be tied for whatever reason this is not an option.

    If she ground ties perfectly or cross ties perfectly, you can ground tie her or cross tie her in a stall, no? Then she realizes that standing still is a lot nicer than running around in circles, and you've eliminated one obstacle and can move on to further desensitization. I've never done it, but a lot of people use clicker training to break stuff like this down into manageable steps.
    Then it's not an option. And I already stated she HAS made progress. But I highly doubt she'll ever make enough progress to be absolutely 100% safe to tie, while unsupervised. It's not a risk I'm willing to take.

    I might look into the clicker training, I admittedly know next to nothing about it!
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  20. #20
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    Mar. 22, 2010
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    Take a couple of weeks, and put her into a stall routine. Make it work for you. Start with an hour or two. As long as she can see another horse, put the calm horse in first, then her, offer food and water...and leave. When you turout, always start by taking her out first. She may never be happy about it, but if want her to accept it, you need to start somewhere. I do not recommend a half door, and if watching her bothers you...then leave.

    I had a youngster that would kick the walls and have hissy fits. Well too bad. I knew at some point in his life he would need to suck it up and accept some confinement. He was the same in a trailer. If he had been stalled a bit as a young horse, he could have learned that it was OK. A reason why any young horse that is sent to my farm goes through a stalling phase. After I know they will stall, they go back out 24/7. If she is aged though, she may never feel ok with it. That is the hard thing. You could try distractions, as in pony pops if she is at all food motivated. Phobias are real, meds may help....although I would not go to that method unless needed, I know my vet has suggested them in certain situations. Get creative, try different things....but start somewhere, and do not give up. Good Luck!



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