Friday, June 7, 2019

Managing a campaigner

At this point, I think I can call Theo a campaigner.  He's heading out to shows, staying at facilities, and generally having adventures while earning that lovely satin.  And smashing my phone and destroying property.

Before and after of his stall door with gouges and missing info sheet

He's lucky he's cute.  But his rage is actually something that I'm still struggling to manage.  How do you keep a horse that's used to being in turnout 24/7 happy when he's at an away show?  The longer he's in a stall, the more irritable he gets.  He just wants to roll and eat hay in the sun and not be touched by anyone for awhile which isn't going to happen at a show.

I thought bringing him in every night for a week would help him get used to it, but instead he ran over my farrier when he started to flip his lid.  Nope.

I currently hand walk him for hours every day at a show and get him out of his stall one way or another every 1.5 hours.  This may be grazing, going for a stroll, or actually doing some showing stuff.  From 7am to 8pm, I am on the clock and keeping the pony entertained.  He still has to cope with the overnight part and cope is a strong word.  I leave a civilized horse munching on a pile of hay.  I come back to a demon that can't believe he's still in prison and wants out right now!  His stall is trashed, he's rushing his door and generally being a rampaging idiot with much head snaking and kicking out.

This is my life when we're at away shows

I've got a couple more away shows this year and I know I can do better with helping him cope.  I just don't know what to try, short of sleeping outside his stall and hand walking him through the night.  Our regionals have paddocks to rent, so I'll be splurging on a paddock so he can go out and roll and just be outside for a couple hours each day.  If he settles well, he may be in that paddock all day.

For most shows, turn out of any form is impossible.  I'm thinking about getting him a toy to entertain him in his stall.  Rumor has it that he liked to bop people with a jolly ball when he was younger, so it might be a really bad idea, but it might control some of the rage.  Fiona did well with a Likit, Theo might enjoy that.  We had a big warmblood on stall rest for almost a year after a suspensary injury and we made him a toy.  We cut a hole in the side of an empty plastic jug and loaded it with carrot pieces.  As the horse tossed and shook the bottle, carrot bits would fall out.

Down side, the horse learned to throw the beat up jug at staff when it was empty to demand a refill.  Nothing quite like having an 18h warmblood throwing things at people walking by his stall.

I know he'll never be good about this.  He'll always want out of his stall.  He hates being confined and there's a reason he never comes in.  But I have to think we can work out a compromise for these three and four day shows.  Something with less destruction and running people over.

Anyone else have a horse that seriously hates being in a stall?


  1. Mine hate being in a stall too. Over the winter there were times we had to put them out even in terrible weather because they were going nuts locked in. Levi has been a nightmare at shows in the past. The limits and other toys do nothing. He actually did really well at Coconino the second week. I think he became resigned/used to being in a stall. Having Eugene with him helps the most. Maybe he'd like a mini/goat?

  2. Ugh yeah that is a bit of a conundrum! We used to make cheap annoying toys by putting rocks in gallon milk jugs. Annoying because they made sound and the horses would definitely whack things with them.

  3. I would start leaving him in, regularly instead of living out 24/7. I find they adjust better at home and then are fine when they are away. I know people have their reasons for 24/7 turnout, but it doesn't always jive with competition horses.