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CHERRY HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER

September 2002

How To Think Like A Horse
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry Hill

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    2002 Cherry Hill       www.horsekeeping.com

VICES AND BAD HABITS


"When Good Horses Do Bad Things"

Shopping Cart Update

Horse Housing Book Reviews

Limited Supply of Blemished Books for Sale

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Vices and Bad Habits

Part One: Vices

The most frequent type of question received at "Ask Cherry"

 

PACING

Dear Cherry,
We just purchased a two year old filly and brought her home. She is in a 24 x 12 outside stall. She paces back and forth. We tried putting her in a 50 foot round pen and she paced there. Do you have any suggestions? We love the filly and are getting her broke. HELP! - Heidi

Hi Heidi,
Please read the article on Vices in this newsletter. Can you turn this filly out with another horse? At least occasionally? Do you have any pastures or large paddocks that the horse can be turned out in for at least an hour or so a day? Have you checked her ration to be sure you are not feeding her too much high energy feed such as grain, concentrates, or alfalfa hay? Is she the type of horse that can eat a little bit all day? If so, can you feed her some grass hay about 4 or 5 times a day? Is she getting plenty of exercise with her training? Does she have time to socialize with other horses?
- Cherry

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PACING

Dear Cherry,
I have a 7 year old Appaloosa mare. I bought her in Feb, she was ridden dressage, I ride western but did ride dressage for 2 yrs,she loves to be with me and has great ground manners, but she was only ridden in the arena , I am training her to be a trail horse. She is coming along but has had a few panic attacks that I just ride her through and shes fine. I was wondering if you could explain something she does in her pen (60x60 sand- panels) She paces and lifts her head up and sideways and walks a figure 8. I have put poles on the ground and she walks over them or around them but she seems to want to be somewhere else.When I come to her she is fine, when shes fed shes fine. She seems to do it less and less but why would she do this in the first place. I have QH gelding in the next pen and she will stand with him but she still paces. Any insight would be great. - Adriana

Hi Adriana,
See my questions above to Heidi and the article that follows in this newsletter. By lifting her head up and sideways, do you mean she holds one ear to the ground and one ear to the sky? If so, it is possible she could have an ear infection or an infestation of ear mites or ticks. Such conditions can be very bothersome to the point of keeping a horse on the move. It does sound like she could use more exercise and variety of experience. Weaving is related to pacing, so you might find some helpful ideas in the answer to that letter.
- Cherry

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CRIBBING

Dear Cherry,
We have just purchased a Dutch horse who has cribbed all of his life. He is currently 5 years old. We used the Miracle collar as tight as possible (any tighter and he chokes) and he still manages to crib. He is very talented. I saw a program at least a year ago on the use of prosaic on animals with behavior problems. One of theses animals was a horse who stopped cribbing almost immediately. I have not been able to find any other information since then. We really need to find a solution to this problem. Can you help? - Kristi

Hi Kristi, I saw a program titled "Pets on Prozac". Is that the program you are referring to? I do remember some remarkable turnarounds with some obsessive behaviors in dogs. I'm including the URL to an article to help you decide whether Prozac is suitable for your horse. Although I think this is the best article on the subject, you can find others by searching with www.google.com using the search words "Prozac horse".

Use of Prozac in Animals for Selected Dermatological and Behavioral Conditions
By Steven A. Melman, VMD
Veterinary Forum, August 1995

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WEAVING

Dear Cherry,
I have a 5 year old gelding who weaves, but hasn't yet made a career out of it. He does this mostly when separated by fence from his favorite mare, but is easily distracted by hay or direct attention, he'll calm down after she is out of sight for a few minutes. This horse was also a great shier when I got him. Only once did he lose touch with reality, when a strange horse was being very obnoxious to him in the next stall. This horse's sire was a confirmed weaver, but my horse rarely came in eye contact with him mine was kept outside 24/7 in a far pasture. Has a genetic tendency been shown? and what can I do to discourage this behavior turning into a career? are weaving and easy shying often linked ? - Coreen

Coreen,
I've never observed or heard that weaving and shying are linked. However, they both tend to be vices that occur in insecure or unsatisfied horses. Weaving is usually a result of confinement and often occurs in anticipation of food or turnout or wanting to join a companion. Here are some things you can try to incorporate into your horse's environment to decrease weaving.

  • Quality turnout time.
  • Companionship of another horse or other animal.
  • Visual contact with other compatibile (not threatening) horses can decrease weaving; use stalls with more windows and open bars.
    [ Cooper JJ, McDonald L, Mills DS 2000. The effect of increasing visual horizons on stereotypic weaving: Implications for the social housing of stabled horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 69, 67-83]
  • Unbreakable Mirrors. Research has shown that mirrors are also effective in decreasing weaving. The mirrors must be unbreakable. Scientists at the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside studied a number of horses before and after fitting an acrylic mirror to the stable wall. The five-week study found the mirror treatment to be effective with all the horses involved in the research. They had all had a history of weaving for at least two years.
    [ McAfee LM, Mills DS, Cooper JJ 2002. The use of mirrors for the control of stereotypic weaving behaviour in the stabled horse. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (currently in press)]
    SOURCE FOR STALL MIRRORS:www.silktree.com
  • Increase satisfaction. Provide the horse with more grazing time and feed long stem hay (rather than a diet that emphasizes pellets or grain). Feed 4 or 5 times a day instead of twice a day with an emphasis on (or free choice) hay.
  • Provide Diversion. A food dispensing cylinder (Pasture Pal) requires that the horse pushes it around with his nose to get pellets or grain from the holes in the cylinder. This device was described by Malpass and Weigler (1994) and has been shown to be effective in maintaining normal behavior in stabled horses.
    [ Winskill LC, Waran NK, Young RJ 1996. The effect of a foraging device (a modified Edinburgh Foodball) on the behaviour of the stabled horse. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 48, 25-35]
    SOURCE FOR "PASTURE PAL": pasturepalmore.
  • Straw Bedding. Bed the horse in straw rather than shavings or other bedding. Research has shown that horses bedded with straw are less likely to weave.

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Vices

Horses are some of the kindest, most generous and trainable animal partners you can find. That's why when a horse does something "bad", it's usually due to management or training. In order to deal with vices and bad habits, we need to understand what causes them. THEN we can design our horse care and training to PREVENT them.

One of the main reasons that horses develop vices is that they are overfed, underexercised, and confined. As William Steinkraus said, "Never fight the oats".

To help you understand why your horse does the things he does, I'm including one of my articles that has appeared in several magazines. I'm also including a chart which is an excerpt from one of my books, Horse for Sale . (If you don't have this book, there are a few blemished copies for sale at book_list-damaged.) Whether you are buying or selling a horse, or just trying to understand and deal with the behavior of a horse that you already own, it helps to observe, read, think, and then take action.

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When Good Horses Do Bad Things

Most horses are good. However, any horse can become a bad actor with improper care or handling. And certain horses have a predisposition to neurotic breakdown when faced with everyday domestication pressures. Such a psychological frailty may be genetically inherited, formed from early experiences with the dam or training, or may develop later in life due to disease or trauma. Horses with neurotic tendencies often form vices.

Vices are undesirable habits that horses exhibit in the stable environment and are generally caused by confinement, over feeding, and stress. Examples are cribbing, stall kicking, and weaving.

Bad habits, such as rearing, halter pulling, or tail wringing are undesirable behaviors in response to human handling and are generally caused by rushed or improper training, uncertainty, insecurity, or resentment. A resentful horse is uncooperative and resistant. His resistance can be based on confusion, fear, disrespect, fatigue, and occasionally high spirits.

Often a horse's action is interpreted by humans as misbehavior but is perfectly legitimate horse conduct. Of course, what is acceptable behavior between two horses is not between a horse and a human. Here's where practical horse psychology, behavior modification, training, attitude adjustment, conditioning, "whispering", whatever you want to call it, is essential.

Most vices and bad habits are preventable, that is, with forethought and proper management and training, most of them can be avoided. Prevention is the desirable route because once certain habits are established, they can be extremely difficult to change. Some habits are manageable, that is, certain techniques and equipment can be used to diminish the negative effects of the habit, but the underlying reason for the habit is still there. If the equipment is not used, the habit resurfaces. A few habits are curable. With carefully planned, diligent efforts, some habits can be permanently changed. Some vices and bad habits are incurable.

Vices and bad habits are best approached in a step-by-step manner: ....

To read the rest of When Good Horses Do Bad Things, go here: When_Good_Horses.

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Shopping Cart Update

Our shopping cart and secure online ordering system has been working great. At your request, we've added a few new features. Besides being able to use VISA, MasterCard and PayPal, you can now also order with your American Express and Discover/Novus cards.

For those of you that have requested other credit card ordering options, we've set things up so you can now order with your credit card via fax, e-mail, or mail. As always, you can also mail in an order with a check or money order.

Also, we are in the process of making international ordering easier.

If you have any problems, questions, or suggestions with the ordering process, or questions about your specific order, write

 

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Horse Housing Book Reviews

Horse Housing has received great reviews in Western Horseman, Horse & Rider, USA Equestrian and online at About.com.  To read the reviews, go here: Horse_Housing.

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Blemished Books

Occasionally we have a copy of a book that has a scuff or small mark on the cover which we know as horsemen is just a blemish, not an unsoundness.  The rest of the book is completely fine.  We offer these books at a reduced price but the selection is limited and the quantity is usually only one or two copies, so it's first come - first served.  We can only sell the blemished books via credit card because by the time a check would arrive in the mail, the books would have been purchased by someone else and would no longer be available. The blemished book page is updated regularly and can be found at book_list.

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That's it for this month. Keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.

 
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