Triton Barn Systems

Your Horse Stall and Horse Barn Experts.

Finding a new balance — stall rest #2

 

Once the horse’s stall has been set up, the next concern will be the horse’s feed.  When a horse is on stall rest, owners may also want to consider a change in feed. It may be beneficial to reduce the horse’s feed or at least lower his/her protein intake.  If the horse in question is very athletic and ridden on a regular basis, he/she is more than likely getting a substantial amount of feed. 

While the horse is on stall rest, this “extra” feed could cause the horse to become “hyper” due to the fact that his/her body will not be processing the feed at the rate it was before.  However, before changing the horse’s feed, make sure that the horse’s veterinarian is consulted.  If the horse’s feed is reduced without the consultation of a veterinarian, it could do more harm than good.   

In addition to feed, a new exercise regimen will need to be figured out.  Whether the horse walks around a pasture/paddock all day or is extremely active, being stuck in a stall will greatly reduce their activity level.  If approved by the horse’s veterinarian, light exercise can be a positive factor in the horse’s recovery.  Depending on the horse’s injury, walking the horse for short periods a couple of times a day can act as exercise and help break up the monotony of being in a stall.   

If the horse’s injury does not permit any sort of exercise, it is still beneficial for owners to make sure that they spend time with the horse.  An owner should spend 20 – 30 minutes a couple of times a day with their horse, talking, scratching, grooming, or calming the horse.  This contact will help keep the horse from becoming overly antsy or anxious.

How to keep your horse “comfy” on stall rest

 

This is a four-part series which focuses on various problems often associated with stall confinement.  A range of solutions are provided to help make the horses’ stall rest more tolerable for horse and owner.

 

 Inevitably, it is common for a horse to be placed on stall rest for one reason or another at some point in his/her life.  Extended stall rest can be stressful for both horse and owner.  Often, after a few days of confinement, a horse will “acquire” destructive behaviors such as cribbing, chewing,  kicking, or pawing.  In addition, many horses will also show signs of extreme anxiety.

Unfortunately, long-term stall rest is often not a choice.  Horses are commonly placed on stall rest by their veterinarian due to injury.  Ultimately, the goal is for the horse to heal as quickly as possible.  However, the side effects of stall confinement  are anxiety and the development of destructive behaviors.  In turn, owners must look for ways to “survive” the allotted stall rest with the least amount of physical and/or psychological damage to the horse or themselves.  By taking location, feed management, limited exercise, and entertainment into consideration, it is possible to make this experience relatively painless.

The first factor that should be considered when a horse is on stall rest is location.  Although some owners may not have an option as to where their horse is stalled, if it is possible, a change in the horse’s location can make stall rest easier to bear. A horse on stall rest should be placed in a stall where he/she has a clear view of outside activities.  This way, the horse can at least participate in “normal” daily activities as a spectator.  If the horse is able to watch what is going on around him/her, it will help keep the animal occupied.

Whether the horses stall location can or cannot be moved, it is important to make sure your horse is as comfortable as possible in his/her stall.  Consequently, owners must make sure the horse has a clean and padded stall.  This can be attained by insuring the horse has clean shavings and is standing on rubber mats.  Since the horse will be confined to a small area with little or no exercise for days at a time, owners need to make sure there is no additional strain to the horse’s body. 

Standing on concrete or packed dirt with little room to stretch could cause this additional strain.  If employees standing behind a checkout counter for four hours at a time are provided with padded mats to minimize discomfort, shouldn’t a horse that is going to be in a stall for an extended period of time be assigned the same care? 

One other option owners should consider is setting up a fan/ mister during the summer months or a heat lamp during the winter months to provide the horse with a more comfortable environment.  Making sure the horse is as comfortable as possible will help the animal heal quicker and could also help prevent the horse from developing hard-to-stop vices.

Check your horse for ticks this spring!

Ticks can  transmit infectious diseases including  ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and piroplasmosis to horses. Severe tick infestations can cause skin irritations and even anemia, a decrease in number of healthy red blood cells.

What to do about ticks:

Check horses thoroughly for ticks , especially on the lower legs and mane when grooming. Large American dog ticks are easy to find, but smaller ticks can be overlooked.

Ticks wander around on animals for a while before they attach to one place.  To remove a tick put on latex or nitrile gloves, grasp the tick very closely to the skin with tweezers, pliers and forceps and apply steady traction. Although it may take a while,  this is the best way to remove the entire tick from the horse’s skin.

Repellents and insecticides with permethrin or cypermethrin provide horses with several hours of protection. These insecticides are very irritating to ticks, so ticks usually drop off before attaching to the horse. Products based on natural ingredients, such as botanical oils, might also give some protection for short periods of time. 

Ticks spend most of their lives on the ground in areas with some shade and humidity and congregate along trails, in overgrown areas, and in margins of wood openings. Direct sunlight and low humidity are their enemies. Keeping brush cut back and clipping pastures will make areas inhospitable for ticks. 

Stall kicking – bad habit #4

 

Kicking is the most harmful and most destructive vice a horse can have.  There are a couple of different types of stall kickers.  Some horses may kick the stall walls or door with one foot, almost methodically.  Some may kick with both back feet multiple times in a row.  Either of these “types” of kickers will destroy their stalls and could very possibly harm themselves.

Horses can become stall kickers for a number of reasons.  Some will kick due to boredom, others may kick because they do not like the horse in the stall next to them, and some will kick because they have too much energy and not enough exercise.  As an owner, as soon as a horse shows the tendency to kick, this vice needs to be corrected. 

Stall kicking can not only damage the stall, but it can also do significant damage to the horse.  A horse that repetitively kicks the stall walls or doors can cause significant damage to their legs.  Capped hocks (soft, fluid-filled swelling on the hock); carpitis (common acute or chronic inflammation of the joint capsule of the carpus); and curbs (a collection of soft tissue injuries of the distal plantar hock region) are all associated with stall kicking. 

Stall kicking can and should be stopped as soon as possible.  Even if the horse does not seem to be a chronic stall kicker, it is best to stop the action before it becomes a habit. 

Tips to stop stall kicking:

1.   If the horse is kicking the walls because they find the sound it makes soothing or because it has become a calming habit, then padding the walls could be all that has to be done.

2.  Change the horse’s feed and exercise routine.  Often a horse will kick due to pent-up energy.  By lowering the horse’s feed intake and/or providing the horse with more exercise, the horse may stop kicking on its own. In this instance, turning the horse out for longer periods of time is not sufficient.  When a horse is put out to pasture or put in a turn-out pen, it will usually jump, buck, and/or play for a short amount of time before it settles.  This small amount of exercise will not do the trick.  Instead, the horse should be lounged, driven, or ridden 2 – 7 times a week depending on the horse’s energy level. 

3.   If the horse is kicking due to boredom, owners may want to supply stall toys or a stall buddy.

4.   Try the “Quitkick total stall system.”  This system comes with sensors that are applied to the walls of the stall.  Whenever the horse kicks the walls or door, the system picks up the vibration and sprays two streams of water.  This happens twice at one second intervals.  There is no pain or fear associated with the correction process.  Instead, it is bothersome to the horse.  Thus, the horse stops the activity that is causing the nuisance.   

5.    Placing/securing horizontal boards along the inside of the horse’s stall.  Place one at rear height and one at hock height.  When a horse kicks, they will make contact with the boards.  This will be uncomfortable for the horse and will stop the kicking.  However, if the horse continues to kick through the pain, the boards should be removed from the hock level.  Repetitive abuse to the hocks can cause additional damage.

6.   Although some owners may disagree with the use of chains, it is a common option.  These chains are specially made for horses.  They are leather legging bands that have chains attached to them.  They are secured above the hock and whenever the horse kicks, the chains bang against the horses’ lower leg.  This is also a pain deterrent. 

Do not try to use leg restraints as a “cure” for this habit.  If left unattended hobbling, scotch hobbling, side lining, or cross hobbling can cause more damage to the horse than the kicking itself.  By using one or more of the methods above, it’s possible to stop this habit and doing so will be beneficial to both the owner and horse.

Wood chewing — bad habit #3

 

Chewing can often be one of the most destructive habits.  When a horse chews, the barn ends up looking like it is not used for housing horses. Instead, the barn looks like it is used for housing giant termites.

This is especially true if the horse is housed in a barn where the stalls are made of wood.  Horses will literally chew through a board if given an adequate amount of time.  By chewing, a horse can damage its teeth, cause harm to the lungs by inhaling wood chips, cause intestinal damage from the splintering wood, or acquire infections in its mouth.   In addition, chewing can make the barn look terrible and can become costly when the stall boards have to constantly be replaced. 

Whether the horse is chewing due to boredom or a nutritional deficiency, there are a couple of ways that an owner can prevent their horse from chewing.  Although preventing a horse from chewing can cost a bit of money, but in the long run, it will cost much less than having to continuously rebuild the barn. 

Tips to prevent chewing:

* Supplement the horse’s feed with Quitt, Nix-It or another “No- Chew” supplement.  Many of these supplements come with a guarantee that they will work.

*  Provide the horse with salt licks, a stall buddy, or stall toys. 

*  If possible, allow the horse more turn-out or pasture time. Exercise can break the boredom.  Grazing is a natural behavior for a horse.  If the horse is not able to graze, they may turn to chewing instead.

*  Provide the horse with adequate forage such as costal, jigs, timothy, or alfalfa hay.

*  Paint the horse’s stall with a chew deterrent such as No-Chew or Chew Stop. This will often have to be used with an additional prevention because the substance will wear off and a determined horse will continue chewing once the foul taste is gone. 

*  Wrap the stall boards with a mesh wire, cover the top of the boards with metal sheeting, or cover the boards with vinyl sheeting. Vinyl material will not work; many horses will rip it off and continue chewing.

*   If none of the above options will work, the horse may have to be muzzled.  The muzzle will allow the horse to eat or drink, but will not allow chewing. 

Although more than one of the previously mentioned deterrents may have to be used to stop the chewing completely, it can be done.

Cribbing — bad habit #2

 

Many people seem to confuse cribbing and chewing.  These vices are NOT the same.  When a horse cribs, it will bite hold a stationary object (often a stall railing) with its front teeth, pulling back and then rapidly sucking in air.  When a horse is cribbing, they will often make a hacking sound.  This is caused by the air they are sucking into their stomach.  Cribbing can cause health issues such as colic, loss of weight, possible loss of teeth, and oral infections.  Not to mention, the property damage. 

            It is obvious that cribbing is a terrible habit for a horse to start.  Luckily, there is more than one way to stop a horse from cribbing.  Some owners may have to only one of these deterrents while others may have to use two or three.  It all depends on the determination level of the horse.

4 Ways to reduce cribbing 

             The first and most common way to stop a horse from cribbing is to use a cribbing collar.  A cribbing collar is placed right behind the horse’s jaw at the top of the throat.  It applies pressure.  This pressure will not allow the horse to quickly draw in breath.  Hence, the horse cannot crib.

            Another way to stop cribbing is to purchase a cribbing muzzle.  These are designed to allow the horse to eat and drink.  However, the horse cannot actually put its mouth around a stationary object.  If the horse cannot grab hold of the object with its teeth, then they cannot crib. 

            One more cribbing deterrent is an anti-crib coating that can be applied to the areas that the horse usually grabs hold of when cribbing.  This “paint” contains no toxic chemicals and most horses detest the taste.  However, this prevention method usually needs to be used with an additional method.  Reason being, when dealing with a significantly driven or stubborn horse, they will continuously test the site that has been painted.  Often, the “paint” losses its strength over time and the horse will continue the behavior. 

            One more way to stop a cribbing horse is to actually make changes to the item(s) the horse usually grabs on to.  This is often a last resort due to the fact that it takes the most amount of time and will also cost more than the other preventative methods.  When a horse cribs their stationary object of choice is usually the stall railing.  In turn, if the railing is changed in such a way that the horse cannot adequately grab onto it, than the horse will not be able to crib.  If the railing is circular, then the goal is to make the railing larger by adding additional materials.  This way, the horse will not be able to grab onto the railing.  Just remember, do not make the railing square. 

             If the railing is squared off, then the horse will just grab hold of the corners and continue to crib.  If the railing is square to start with, find a safe way to make it round.  Sanding down the edges of a 2” x 6’ will not work.  The horse will still easily be able to grab the railing.  However, securing a section of 4” – 6” PVC to the rail should do the trick.  This makes the railing difficult to grab on to the railing due to the diameter and the smooth edges.

            Even though cribbing can be an obnoxious habit, luckily, it is one of the easiest habits to circumvent.

How to fix your horse’s bad habits – part 1

 

Some horses have bad habits when they are put into stalls.  Whether these habits were learned from another horse, caused by boredom, or are just part of the horse’s personality, they need to be stopped.  The main stall vices that horses have are pawing, cribbing, chewing, and kicking.  Each of these bad habits can cause harm to the horse.  In addition, each of these habits is somewhat hard to break. 

How does an owner stop their horse from pawing, cribbing, chewing, and kicking before the horse harms itself?  Although the process of stopping these vices can be difficult, they are worth the time, money, and effort in the long run.  Once the habit is curbed, the horse will no longer risk injury nor will the stall continually be destroyed.  This article is divided into four sections.  Each section explains how to break the previously mentioned vices. 

Part 1 – Pawing

Many horses paw to show impatience.  If a horse paws sporadically, it is rarely an issue.  However, if a horse starts pawing constantly, it can cause some significant damage.  When a horse paws consistently, they can risk hurting their hoof, pastern, coffin bone, ligaments, and muscles.  For this reason, it is important to stop any horse with this habit. 

Pawing is often one of the more difficult habits to change.  There are a few steps that can be taken to protect the horse from injury. To protect the horse from injury, it is often beneficial to line the horse’s stall with rubber mats.  This will absorb a good deal of the pressure on the horse’s leg that is created each time the horse’s hoof hits the ground. 

When it comes to stopping this habit, there are a few steps that the owner can take.  If the horse is pawing out of impatience; for instance, if the horse only seems to paw when it is feeding or turn out time, then ignoring the horse is the key.  As an owner, if you feed or quickly turn out the horse to stop the pawing, then the horse is being rewarded for pawing.  Instead, if the horse is pawing, he/she should have to wait until the pawing has stopped.  Feel free to lightly reprimand the horse to get the pawing to stop (this does not mean hitting).  Nonetheless, the horse should not be fed or turned out until the behavior has stopped for at least a couple of minutes.  Owners should not allow the horse’s will to be stronger than their own. 

If the horse is pawing out of sheer boredom, this habit can be a bit harder to break.  Padding the stall will be beneficial for reducing the risk of injury, but it will not stop the habit.  To stop the habit, owners can first provide the animal with a distraction such as a stall toy.  Keeping the horse occupied can curb the horse’s need to paw.  

The other option that horse owners have is to purchase a shock collar specially made for horses.  By “correcting” the horse each time it paws with a small electrical shock, the horse will come to associate the discomfort with pawing and not with the owner.