Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Naptime

Milton stall 12 28 15

Milton is undergoing mandatory naps. If this works, I will declare Saddle Seeks Horse to be the bestest, most wonderful, sparkliest blog on the Internet.

In Knight’s Hospital Stay and Strange Return Home, blog author Susan Friedland Smith updates us on the status of her OTTB, Tiz A Knight. A few weeks ago, Knight went to the vet clinic for colic 😦 . He came home 🙂 . He tried to colic again. 😦 . Bottom line, he does not like his open-plan stall, “24 x 24 pipe corral with a gorgeous mountain view.” He wants in. “My trainer placed Knight in a closed-in box stall and he perked right back up and the colic symptoms went away.”


Milton is an OTTB. I’m sure he was heavily stalled as a racehorse. Tracks are not known for turnout. I don’t know exactly how he lived in the interim barn, but it was Canada, so some stall time had to be involved.

I am of the opinion that stalls are bad for horses. Ideally, every horse would be on pasture 24/7. Constant walking is good for their joints. Constant grazing is good for their gut. It’s part of their design specs. The only use of a stall is for human convenience [How I Learned to Think Like a Horse]. I will grant that some horses are used to the stall life. Over at the Saddlebred barn, Sam lasts for about 10 minutes of turnout before he is standing at the gate saying, ‘… letmeinletmeinletmeinletmeinletmein … ‘

Previous Horse and Mathilda adapted to life outside without a blink. In hindsight, Rodney had a long transition period when he and Mathilda were being kept apart. In Milton’s life, we have screwed with everything else: food [Clean Cups!], meds, even going so far as to test him for Lyme disease. Why not try this.

The first thought was to put him up at night. I couldn’t face it. Too much poop. I made the executive decision that Special Milton Time would be during the day, at least for the first test. Less time, less poop. They tend to nap after breakfast, anyway. Walking around at night would be warmer. But mostly, less poop.

So, Milton goes in the stall at breakfast. Rodney is fed in the run-in area, next to the stall. They eat hay. They nap. Milton comes out early afternoon. Occasionally, Rodney goes in for the day or for a few hours. Rodney loves the stall and gets cranky when Milton bogarts it. Regardless of who is in the stall, the other tends to hang about.

Tension in the barn has dropped dramatically. Sure, Milton still pins his ears and waves his nose and bites Rodney and misbehaves. That’s normal horse stuff. There is no longer a hostile edge to everything he does. While both of us are exceedingly unobjective, we think we can see increased peacefulness reflected in the way Milton carries himself.

I have no idea why. Does Milton feel safe in a four-sided box? Has he been tired for the last year? Does he enjoy an enforced break from his roommate? Who knows. Have we turned a corner? Are we kidding ourselves? Time will tell. For now we are cautiously, hopefully, tentatively thrilled.

It’s always the one thing you never think to examine.

6 thoughts on “Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Naptime

  1. I’ve found some horses just need to spend a little time in their own personal space to feel OK with the world. While it may appear they have been tolerating each other, who knows what kind of trash-talking has been going on unseen or unheard? Sometimes it’s the really subtle stuff that matters. My hubby laughs at me because on rainy days I usually keep my mare inside for a few hours around every feeding time. (Hay, too) I’ve found that while the boys will share the run-in with her, nobody is REALLY happy when she’s forced to be that close to them. Especially around food. So she gets culled and all three are much happier. Well, the boys are happier. I think she’d much rather be out there making them feel uncomfortable. 😉

  2. I think Hope’s pony will be happier when the stalls are done and he can have some alone time. Max is 3 and a nudge and has a charmingly puppy-like desire to play. Which, if you are ten and long over that, might be less charming. They do get individual time now, but it’s when I riding the other one, which is actually stressful because there are only two of them. Feeding time in individual stalls will give Mischief a chance to relax, eat and not feel alone. Children are easier, I think. 😉

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