Advice for horse behaviour problem, please

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by miss_thenorth, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    My 2 1/2 yo paint/perch has a bad habit of stomping and pawing. He does it when he eats, occasionally when he drinks, and lately he's been starting to do it while waiting for me to throw his hay out. He will stand outside the gate, and I'm afraid he might get his hoof somehow caught in the gate (not that it is likely to happen), but...

    Is there any way to stop his behaviour? I am at a loss.
     
  2. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    He's enjoying his feed, and water apparently. Not much you can do there.

    But you can correct the pawing for hay. When he paws - DON'T deliver the hay! If it stops working, he'll eventually stop doing it.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    IME that is sometimes a symptom of stress and ulcers.

    Beyond that, I'd suggest doing what Kate says -- absolutely never hay him when he's been pawing, just turn on your heel and take the hay back to the barn. The first few days this may get rather old, but he WILL catch on and it is a highly worthwhile lesson to teach.

    Sometimes they do that when they've had to wait too long to eat -- feeding more frequently, or free-choice if feasible, can often help.

    If you don't want him digging a hole under his water bucket, put a mat in, even just a single 4x6 section. Some people will tell you to put a few large boulders where he paws -- IME this is a bad idea as leading to injuries and not actually stopping pawing anyhow.

    BTW, not clear on whether "eats" includes grain, but if it does, being2 1/2 and part draft i.e. predisposed to joint and metabolic problems, he would be much much better off without any grain (nor pellets) at all. Just give him more, or better hay. Of course if he's only getting hay now, just ignore the foregoing [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  4. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Ok, talk about a "duhhh" moment. That makes perfect sense not to "reward" that behaviour.

    Thanks for the insight, and forgive my blonde moment [​IMG]
     
  5. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    [​IMG]

    My AQHA mare, Sabre...adores her feed. Just savors it. She'll have her head in the feed bucket, and hold up her right foreleg nearly the entire time she's eating, shaking it around. Pardon the term...but I call it a food climax haha. My Percheron mare, whom I sold last January, did the same thing over her pellets. You can just about hear them saying "yum yum yum YUMMY!"
     
  6. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Some horses just do this more than others, but for sure don't reward it. Hard with water for sure, and it often starts there as natural behaviour for horses is to paw at water (creeks and lakes) as part of grooming, then roll in the mud for bug protection. If you can give him access to natural water or a mud hole to satisfy this need. Has he got companionship to play with too? Horses do that paw and bow, nip thing that releives their need for this as well.

    If it gets to the point of him bashing stuff like fences to get what he wants out of you there is an old coyboy trick that works well. Get some chain, just a big link type not really light or heavy, medium. Tie it around the fetlock of the leg he uses with something that will break away, like a piece of leather, if he got it caught. Use one end link to tie back to a point in the chain where it will not slip off or go up the leg, and then cut the chain so that there is about 2 inches extra hanging as a tail. When he paws this will bang him and when he stops not bother him at all. Combined with not rewarding him the connection to what he is doing wrong is faster with this aid. The only time I used it I put it on a few hours before the horse's trigger time (feeding as well but only the afternoon, in the am he was generally calmer, still sleeping due to my shiftwork hours) and was home and watching the pasture a bit so I knew he was not in a wreck, or at least could respond if it happened, however he never had an issue with it. I removed it after the trigger time.

    Since then I have changed my ways and if I can at all I get a really low sugar hay and free feed. This year was too dry here and no hay is low enough but I got the best I could so at least I can feed quite a bit. Hay can be as high in sugar as grain and I agree that any horse behaivng like this should not be on a grain ration, or at least not on a sugar one. Read up at safergrass.org to find out more there.
     
  7. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    It's not so bad with water, but the last few weeks, since he has been getting hay, that's when it started to be noticeable. this has been something he has done since we got him--not bad though until recently. He has a pasture buddy, and they seem to go back and forth over who's the boss.

    I will try to with-hold hay when he acts his way. Hopefully this will work, (I still can' believe I never thought of it) We'll see how that goes before trying anything else. He's smart, and he loves his food, so he should catch on quick.
    Thanks!
     
  8. halo

    halo Got The Blues

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    Nov 22, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    I dont agree with this at all. Horses arent that smart. Believe me I know. I have 30 of them. He will have no clue whatsoever that youre not bringing his hay because he's digging or pawing. If you dont bring his hay when he starts his digging, he will just get more anxious. All he knows is he's supposed to get his hay, and you arent bringing it. Is there any reason you can't give him more hay, or keep some hay in front of him all the time? Maybe give him another flake during the day. If he has it in front of him all the time, he won't get so anxious.

    Horses arent kids. They react poorly to negative reinforcement. Rather than battle an issue with a horse, try and keep it from happening in the first place.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I have had success with this method, for exactly this problem, with a lot of horses over a lot of years. It *does* work, and pretty well too [​IMG]

    Some horses catch on faster than others but I've never worked with one that took more than a week to get it, and that was an unusually dim yet hysterical individual. It *does* require a time commitment from the handler (as with most things involving horses) but honest, it is quite doable and quite effective.

    (I agree that prevention is better than cure, of course. If it were me, he'd have hay more often, and depending on the rest of his behavior and so forth, and depending on my finances, I would also consider investigating the ulcer angle -- as mentioned, I've noticed this behavior to be frequent in horses later diagnosed with ulcers)

    JME,

    Pat
     
  10. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Quote:That's what I did tonight, right after I posted and got a reply. I went out and fed them an hour early ( I am in and out of the barn alot during the day, and they seem to know when it is their feed time.) So I fed them when they weren't expecting it. So, obviously--no pawing.

    Would you think, then, that giving them all their hay at one time would be better than spreading it out throughout the day? I was always under the impression that it is better to spread it out.
     

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