The Stay-At-Home Horse

Horsekeeping

 

Considerations on proper horse distribution.

Scenarios
Scenario 1. Working Milton at home.
If we leave Rodney out, he ignores us. If we put Rodney in the stall while Milton works at home, Rodney paces and frets.

Scenario 2. Working Rodney at home.
Milton gets put in the stall. If not, he will follow us around. Literally. If I take Rodney for a walk, Milton will crowd up behind Rodney as if it were rush hour on the subway. Occasionally, he will think about letting Rodney go on alone. He only lasts about half a field before he comes galloping up screaming.

Scenario 4. Taking Milton on a trip.
Rodney has the run of the field. This made it so much easier when we took Milton away for his non-compete adventures [Here for the Experience, Notes from North Georgia]. Barn-sitter said Rodney was happy to see her, possibly a little lonely, but mostly chill.

Scenario 3. Taking Rodney on a trip.
Milton goes in the stall. He screams when we return but only once & usually not right away. The stall has not been trampled, leading us to believe that he stands quietly and eats as soon as we are over the horizon.

Query
Can we give Milton the run of the field when we take Rodney off the grounds?

He may be okay. He fusses when Rodney works at home, but Rodney does the same thing if he is in the stall. Milton doesn’t appear to fuss once Rodney gets far enough away.

He will run around like a crazed idiot. Rodney is chill in the pasture by himself, but he also chill in the pasture by himself when Milton is working. Milton is not.

We will be doing small tests of the system. This is not a choice one wants be wrong about.

Question
Those of you with multiple horses, what you do with the stay-at-homes? Is it different depending who leaves or stays?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Categories: Herd Behavior, Horses

4 replies »

  1. We have three at home. Every weekend we go off with two and leave one behind. The one left behind hollers. He’s got hay (it’s a dry lot, so having hay, and all to himself is a big treat), and he loose to enjoy the paddock or run-in. We do not stall confine. Lots of hollering. He is our loner and low man on the totem pole, so go figure why he seems bugged that he’s being left alone given that he spends most of his time standing far from the other two anyway. I don’t worry about it. Same set-up for any other combo of departure. The one (or two) left behind will holler and act like the departing horse is their long lost best friend. (Doubtful) Departing horse/horses are always quiet and fine. I have strong fence, good electric and horses with pretty good self-preservation. (Meaning, they will not fling themselves into or over the fence). I let them work it out for themselves. I always leave hay behind for them. The mare is the most vocal and dramatic. Last time my husband went horse camping she hollered off and on for three days and she still had her best buddy with her. I think she pretty much just likes the sound of her own voice. She paces a bit and looks like she’s on high alert, but eventually she gets over it. If I ride one of the three down in my lower arena the other two will stand in the upper paddock and holler. I’m not visible or accessible, but I’m a stones throw away. Like, seriously, we’re so close by I could hear them fart and vice verse. Yes, I yell at them to shut the hell up. No, it doesn’t work. The horse I board has been getting very little trail riding this last year. (Which sucks) Last year he never made a peep when I left the barn/property alone. Now he does. It irks me. I’m thinking the noise will lessen and stop with more solo rides off property. I figure by the time the weather cooperates and we can do that, it will be hunting season and that will squash that. If someone rides in the indoor arena with me I occasionally choose to stay behind when they leave. It’s good for him. It stresses him out a little, but it also gives him the opportunity to learn how to deal with being left behind.

  2. Our fence is good. I don’t think he’d hurt himself if he hit it. I don’t see him jumping it. OTOH, I can see him running and screaming the entire time we were gone. I don’t have a lot of faith in a TB’s ability to learn how to deal with perceived adversity. I love the breed, but they can be mental.

    • When leaving a screamer for the first time we do it like this: One human goes out of sight (off property or whatever) with the other two horses. Other human hangs out with screamer/runner. I don’t honestly think for one minute that the screamer is comforted by the presence of the human and we don’t really try to get involved. We’re just there more or less to make sure nothing stupid will commence. (Some of my best horse photos have been taken while babysitting a left behind screamer!) We do this several times until we’re pretty certain the screamer has enough self-preservation to keep them from doing anything stupid. So far we haven’t had any mental cases. They might be loud, sweaty and self-exercised when the other horses return, but none have done anything nutty in their absence.

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