Teaching the Horse to be alone

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Dusty_Ruby, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. Dusty_Ruby

    Dusty_Ruby Active Member

    I had to leave my horses together in a paddock for quite a while and they have become rather attached (one that is).

    At the moment, I am trying to get him used to be able to survive on his own in the shed so I can trim his feet.

    I have separated the horses for 6 months now. Their paddocks come together in a stable, but they spend long hours not even seeing each other. I also take the horse in question out of the paddock and tie him up.

    The other hose is fine on his own, he just walks off.

    Today, I tried to take the anxious horse up into the shed (just to tie him up) and he freaked out.

    My question is: Do I have to separate them even more, so that they cannot even touch each other?

    What I don't understand is that the 'problem horse' can be on his own for hours/days but then all of the sudden decides, he has to run up and down the fence because he can't see the other horse. This might only happen every 5 days or so, but then all of the sudden 3 times a day.

    His separation anxiety seems rather random and it doesn't seem to get any better no matter what I do. I can tie him up outside the paddock every day and he behaves the exact same way. (I have had the same with float loading - you can do the training daily for weeks and he stays the same).

    I don't have huge experience with horse training, but at least with the others, there was some progress, but with this horse, I feel I am not making any progress. Any ideas?
  2. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    Dusty_Ruby can I ask where you are located? Are the horses on your own property? And are they the only two horses there?
  3. Dusty_Ruby

    Dusty_Ruby Active Member

    yes, they are the only two horses on my own property. I am in the Perth hills.
  4. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    OK sending you a PM :)
  5. RVP Horses

    RVP Horses Well-known Member

    There is no quick fix for this behaviour but it can easily be fixed with training. But it is more about the horse being anxious than it is about the horse being separated from the other horse, therefore separating them more won't help this horses anxious behaviour. The process involves getting the horse to be more confident overall. This is done through ground work training that takes care of a lot of little things before they become big things, like float loading. Once the horses anxiety is taken care of you won't have problems float loading him. Horses can't learn when their state of mind is anxious or panicky. The calmer they are the easier it is for them to think through a problem and learn the answer. Studies have been done on hoses and they have amazing memories so if an exercise is taught well in the first place they will remember it even if it isn't practiced for a year or more.

    If you need help fixing this feel free to contact me :)
  6. Dusty_Ruby

    Dusty_Ruby Active Member

    He is not generally an anxious horse. I would ride him away from the other horse and things like that easily. I have just left them together in the paddock without much work for too long and now he thinks he has to be with the other horse non-stop.

    I can work with him before hoof trimming and we get to a stage where he stands ok, but 6 weeks later, we have to do the same things all over again. It's the same with tying him up away from the other horse. I can do that everyday, letting him stand until he is calm, but there is no learning curve.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  7. RVP Horses

    RVP Horses Well-known Member

    People think an anxious horse looks scared and worried ALL the time but that's not the case. You described the behaviour that is typical of an anxious horse. I guess if he's not anxious he just does a good job of acting it.

    People with anxiety issues aren't anxious all the time but that doesn't mean you should tell them to stop pretending they have anxiety.
  8. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    We've brought up fear and anxiety in past threads, it's such a big obstacle. The scary or anxiety- provoking situation may seem trivial to us, but to the horse it is potentially life and death.

    Often when you have to return to square one each time, you've not previously been able to address the root cause, you've just stuck a bandaid over the symptoms and hidden them from view. Suppressing things instead of addressing things. Force or pushing instead of methodically setting up and waiting.

    Success isn't just measured by how still you can get the horse to be. They are so clever at hiding their distress if that helps them survive in the short term. Also known as shutting down, a very destructive survival mechanism you'd be best to avoid at all costs.

    Changing their thoughts about you and your activities is hard. As RVPH says, you must acknowledge the worry, then be active in changing their mind about it, not by going ''No. Stop. Don't", but by directing that overstimulated brain into a known, understood and consistent activity that you've pre-programmed as a reassuring pattern. Daily practice of small increments can be more beneficial than 6-weekly practice only during times of stress.
  9. Dusty_Ruby

    Dusty_Ruby Active Member

    Thanks for your opinions :)*

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