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Won't stay in his stall

Dear Franklin,

I have been searching the web for a resolution to my problem extensively with no results. When I came across your web page I was very impressed with the advice you give people about their problems. I have a problem myself that I am hoping you can help me with:

I have a 13 year old gelding that is refusing to stay in his stall lately. I have him boarded at a stable with lots of other horses. When I first got him 2 years ago he spent a lot of time in his stall due to an old leg injury that had reoccurred. Once he got better he was allowed to go out with the herd. He is usually out in the pasture (weather permitting) and only comes in to eat twice a day or when I get him out of the pasture to work with him. At first we had no problem with him staying in his stall. But now he is very impatient. Once he is done eating he will paw and kick at his stall until he is let out. If we don't let him out he will rear up in his stall and I am afraid he is going to injure himself.

He is not ill mannered by any means. Once I open the stall door to let him out or take him out with the halter and lead rope to groom him, he will not run over me or anything. He just does not want to stay in his stall. Not even if it is freezing outside. We tried to give him hay to keep him content, but that does not work either. I am certain that it is not his stall neighbor that aggravates him. He is in the last stall in the row and the stall to his right changes owners frequently. He has been doing this for a while now and I am not sure how to get him to accept being in his stall again.

I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thank you in advance for your time

Hi Romana,

First off, your horse needs to be outside more than inside. Horses are fine in their natural coats until a little below zero temps. Horses need to be out as much as possible. It seems your horse is showing his displeasure at being stall bound now that he has had a taste of the great outdoors. You stated he has no horse on one side of him and a changable partner on the other side. This makes for insecurity. Horses get their sense of safety and trust, partly, from a consistent environment. They like the same herdmates and bond quickly and easily. It seems you are depriving your horse of these much needed consistent bonds now, by trying to keep him inside where he is isolated from his friends. You might try moving him to a stall with mellow horses on each side that will be constant company and not be shifted around. You could also consider developing even more of a realtionship with your horse where you become more like a herd member (but the herd leader). You do this by spending a lot more time on the ground, doing ground exercises and activity that is fun and keeps the horse active with you, with you as the 'leader of the dance'. Right action with a horse is what builds the relationship. It is beyond riding, grooming and feeding. Relationships with horses are developed on the ground first. Riding is the icing on the cake.

Let me know you thoughts on all this and the best of luck to you. Thanks again for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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