When you go into a barn full of horses do you hear quiet contented sounds? Or do you hear hooves kicking the walls and teeth grating the stall bars? Horses are social creatures and like to be able to be with other horses, but like people, horses have distinct personalities and not all horses get along. What can you do to help keep peace in the barn?
- Feeding time can be a stressful time for horses. Everyone wants to be fed first! Some horses are protective of their feed and get very anxious if he thinks another horse might take it, regardless of whether or not there is a wall separating them. By putting feeders and hay in opposite corners, each horse has a bit of personal space.
- Try putting pasture pals next to each other. Horses that are turned out together know one another and have established their pecking order. Stalling horses that don’t spend much time together may try to dominate one another through the stall.
- While it may seem obvious, if you have a stallion he should not be stalled next to mares. That becomes frustrating for everyone.
- Provide the horses with plenty of turnout or exercise and hay or pasture. A bored horse in a stall is a dangerous thing. Bored horses get into trouble when they try to find ways to entertain themselves, which can run the gamut from stall vices like cribbing and weaving to picking on their neighbors.
- Try giving some “in-stall” entertainment such as balls, stall licks and other toys. Anything you find that will keep a horse occupied in a way other than pestering the horse next door.
- Work until you find the right scenario. Move horses around until you get the right mix and then stick with it! Horses are routine oriented so once you’ve found the right pairings try to keep it that way.
- Regular exercise; this may seem obvious but keeping a horse’s mind focused and thinking about training will help with time spent in the stall.
It may take some time and experimentation to figure out the quirks of your horses, but once you do you will have a happy, content barn full of horses (and a lot fewer stall repairs!)