Box walking!

Ambers Echo

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Advice needed please from you lovely and highly experienced folk!

We bought Deedee almost a month ago. At the viewing she was seen in her stable while we chatted. We also groomed her n there, takced her up. There was no sign of box walking. She seemed very chilled.

When she first arrived she was in for 24 hours and again seemed chilled. Then she went out with one of mine in the day time and in at night. Gradually introduced her to the rest of the herd over the next week. Again no issues. After a week she was out 24/7 with the others. Npo box walking that first week - ten days and evidence that she lay down in her stable.

After about 10 days she began to be difficult to lead between the stables and arena where she has to pass a pig. Pig caused HUGE trauma though she has seemed fine with it at first. At the same time she began to box walk whenever she was in. I think she began to realise she was not just at a comp or camp but was not going home and that stressed her out? So things she was coping with at first became harder for her. She was also becoming increasingly clingy to Amber.

In the last week she has stopped being hard to lead - that only lasted about 3-4 day and she seems relaxed in all other ways. Fine to ride, load, lead etc. The clinginess is also settling. But she still box walks CONTINUALLY. She even tries to box walk when Izzy is grooming her in the stable. She was in one night and YO who can see her from her house said it carried on all night. No lying down anymore. She was next to and opposite other horses.

We have turned her out 24/7 but she will be coming in overnight for the winter soon and I am not sure what to do about this. Old owner says she never box walked at his and I do believe him. He's a friend of several friends who assure me he is 100% honest. And in fact I have seen other ads where he discloses stereotypies. He had her for 6 months on a very quiet yard.

My worry is this will become a habit even if the initial trigger (which I assume is being unsettled by a move) has resolved. And it will never stop! She has company near by, ad lib hay, water and a salt lick whenever she is in.

Any advice or reassurance gratefully received!
 

milliepops

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is it possible that the pig could still be a problem?
I ask because a pig that was out of sight but she knew was there, was the reason I left a yard within 6 weeks of arriving, and this was with Millie who was an extremely secure happy horse. She trashed her stable daily and jumped out of her field (before that became a daily habit of her retirement!!) She was working well and hacked out nicely, but just absolutely could not settle with that flaming pig being there.
 

be positive

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She is not yet in a real routine, the first week she was in at night and settled, then she has just been in a bit randomly, at least in her mind, I think the mistake was to turn out 24/7 for what will be just a short period of time when she was probably used to being in at night and happy with that.
The previous owner did not have her over last winter so although you can probably believe him it may well be that she did it previously and stopped when she moved to him because everything in her routine changed and she settled as she did with you initially and it continued if she remained on whatever routine she was on from day 1.

The other thing to consider is the pig, some really do find them impossible to live near, the smell may be worse now or she is just most aware of it and finds it too much to cope with, is it possible to move further away?
 

Ambers Echo

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Thanks yes I am regretting turning her out now! I should in retrospect have kept her in the same routine. So do I leave her out as long as possible now that she is out? Or bring her in and keep her in her new winter routine and hope she soon settles.

That pig is a bloody nuisance! She is stabled about as far away from it as she can be but she certainly knows it's there.
 

be positive

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Having had a box walker I found it never really settled inside despite every effort although a change of box helps reset the mind sometimes.
I suspect the pig is a major part of the issue and that you may struggle to get her settled whatever you do now, sorry if that a bit negative but in my experience a sensitive mare is very hard to reason with once their mind is made up on whatever it is they have taken offence by, they can be totally irrational so you probably just have to give everything a try and see where it goes, work her hard so she is tired and hungry when she goes to bed and get a mirror as they can really help.
 

dorsetladette

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Is she settled I the field? if so when you catch her to bring her in can you put something smelly (like vicks) in her nostrels so she can't smell the pig before she comes back on the yard.

Did old owner give her any supplements? might not even be something he thought of as a calmer, but has that affect maybe.
 

Pinkvboots

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My friends Arab box walked when she moved him to my yard and he had never done it before, we moved him to a different stable where he could look out on to the fields and he stopped overnight, previous stable was a row that backed onto the road but not sure that had any impact, I think he just didn't like being in that particular block of stables as his only view was the horses opposite.

Or off course it could just be the pig upsetting her but might be worth looking to move stables if you think there could be a better alternative, another thing could be that it's a bigger busier yard than she is used to, one of my horses completely changes on a busy big yard his much more settled at home with just my other horse and no comings and goings to deal with.
 

Wheels

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I find a connecting stable with half partitition or large window between 2 stables can sometimes help. Is there anything like that at your yard? You have a few horses at the same yard dont you? Might be worth swapping them around to see if she settles anywhere else

It could well be the pig though, sounds crazy but she might be better off closer to it so she can keep her eye on it.
 

Ambers Echo

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Thanks everyone.

I have tried her in Amber's stable which is opposite hers but she is no better there.

There is a field alongside the pig pen she could go in if it would help her get used to it? YO often puts pig averse horses in there and they soon stop bothering about it. Or would that send her totally over the edge? When she struggled to go past the pig she really was beside herself, but now she will walk past ok. She does speed up a bit and keeps a very firm eye on it but does not snort or spook. She can see the pig pen from the arena and works ok despite that.

I will look into mirrors.

As it happens I am considering moving Amber to a much quieter yard for different reasons. Perhaps Deedee would be better off moving too though I know Izzy would hate to leave the yard. But we can't leave Deedee somewhere she is unhappy. :(

But how would I know if it is the pig and not the move in general and that she'd be better anywhere else
 

Wheels

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I would put her and another quiet horse in the paddock next to the pig for a short while and see if it makes a difference.

Are there any stables with a half partition or large window between.

I've had a couple of horses who couldn't cope unless they could have a wee bit of physical contact with the horse next door
 

Fiona

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My friend who has a riding school keeps three gorgeous pigs, and all her ponies and liveries settle with them eventually...

I'll keep my fingers crossed that the issue resolves when your yard all come in for the night, and there is a more concrete routine. Are your stables American barn or outside boxes, and how does that compare to the previous owner's yard??

I had a TB mare who boxwalked badly, but only when triggered by feeding time or by being left on her own, so it was manageable albeit annoying...

Fiona
 

Ambers Echo

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So I went up this morning to ride and she took 2 hours to catch. And in fact was only caught when we caught and removed every other horse first! I think 8 acres of freedom in a herd is also not helpful. I've always liked the fact that my horses have so much space but they need to not abuse the privilege!!

So having just about decided to move Amber to the lovely quiet yard I think I now ought to move Deedee there instead. Which is annoying but the needs of the horses are more important than my wishes! It is quiet - just 8 horses out in pairs in their own paddocks. 25 X 16 stables - ie HUGE! And no pig. Thoughts?
 

Caol Ila

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As you know, I've dealt with these sort of issues for years. Be Positive hit the nail on the head when she said, "a sensitive mare is very hard to reason with once their mind is made up on whatever it is they have taken offence by, they can be totally irrational so you probably just have to give everything a try and see where it goes." Welcome to my world.

When the vet came to sedate my horse for transport on Monday (I know...right. Trying to make her see lorries as places to get high), I pretty much had this chat with her. The YO where the horse had been staying had been asking the vet about hormones and suggested something must have happened when she was a foal, etc. etc., and then she went off to get the lorry ready. I turned to the vet and said, "I have had this horse for 19 years and I have no idea what triggers her stereotypies in some places, but not others. I mean, I know some things are highly likely to trigger it, like lack of routine, or coming into season, but she'll do it in places with a routine, or when she isn't in season, or she's been in season and not done it."

The vet said, "Yeah. There are things that they can see, or hear or feel that can trigger these behaviours in horses prone to them, and we will never know what they are because we aren't horses."

I've given up trying to psychoanalyse her, but I could write a whole book titled 'Yard Owners' theories For Why My Horse Fencewalks." I've had some good ones over the years, my favourites being EPM, 'her blood must be too hot because her coat's too shiny,' me, and the weather.

Anyway, moving DeeDee to a different yard is probably the way forward. They yard you describe sounds ideal.
 

Wheels

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So I went up this morning to ride and she took 2 hours to catch. And in fact was only caught when we caught and removed every other horse first! I think 8 acres of freedom in a herd is also not helpful. I've always liked the fact that my horses have so much space but they need to not abuse the privilege!!

So having just about decided to move Amber to the lovely quiet yard I think I now ought to move Deedee there instead. Which is annoying but the needs of the horses are more important than my wishes! It is quiet - just 8 horses out in pairs in their own paddocks. 25 X 16 stables - ie HUGE! And no pig. Thoughts?

I would agree that if you do move it will work better if both horses go so they can share a paddock, otherwise she may end up being very upset when her field partner is away being groomed / ridden / shows etc. Pair bonds can also be destructive

At the moment though I would personally not want to move her again so quickly. I would just be up with her as much as possible, spending time, getting into a proper routine, do a bit of groundwork (in the field or gateway if she is more confident)
 

be positive

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So I went up this morning to ride and she took 2 hours to catch. And in fact was only caught when we caught and removed every other horse first! I think 8 acres of freedom in a herd is also not helpful. I've always liked the fact that my horses have so much space but they need to not abuse the privilege!!

So having just about decided to move Amber to the lovely quiet yard I think I now ought to move Deedee there instead. Which is annoying but the needs of the horses are more important than my wishes! It is quiet - just 8 horses out in pairs in their own paddocks. 25 X 16 stables - ie HUGE! And no pig. Thoughts?
I guess you only have the option of one box at the moment but within reason can do as you please, my thought would be to move DeeDee asap to that box get her into a routine, work her hard and when she has settled, if she does, you know it is the other yard/ pig or whatever has upset her that is the issue and need to plan your next move, whether that is to take her back swapping with Amber and see if she remains calm, moving them all to the new yard or finding another option that suits them all but I do think it unlikely she will relax where she is without a lot of changes which will be impossible to implement when it is not your yard.

It sounds as if she has gone a bit feral, I have had a few like this and they do come round if the routine is well structured, their brains are kept busy, their bodies are tired and working relatively hard, all of which can only be done in the ideal world very few of us have but the other yard could fit the bill in every way apart possibly from the paired turnout which may mean she clings to her new best friend, as much as I am against individual turnout I would ask for it for at least the first month while you get the routine established and her working with you in a better frame of mind.
 

Ambers Echo

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She can have individual turnout there. Or there is the option of going in with a retired pony. (Not mine). But individual turnout is fine if you think that would be best.

There is only one box on new yard. It's a dead mans boots kind of place. And it's not free till 25th November. Any ideas on managing her in the meantime? I am not putting her back in the 8 acres but there are no individual paddocks. She can go with one or 2 of mine in about 2 acres if I want. She is already worked quite hard and actually is fine ridden.

Not being caught today was the first time and I think relates to the fact that she has clung onto another pony who will never (ever ever ever) be caught. So the minute we appeared with head collars the other pony galloped off with Deedee joined at the hip to her. Luckily that pony is pair bonded with another so we removed all the other ones, then lastly got her pal led it away and the pony followed. There was a moment where she was stood between the one we were leading away and Deedee looking from one to the other, not sure which one to stick with. Thankfully she chose her best mate. (They are owned by the same person). Once Deedee was alone she was angelic, of course. Grrrr bloody horses! She does seem to get clingy very quickly so I need to be aware of that in how I do things from now on.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Yes I would put her in the 2 acre with one or two of yours for the time being until you decide your next move.
That is exactly what I would do. I think paired turnout could be asking for trouble with a clingy horse but I think that individual turnout could be even worse for a clingy horse. and make her completely neurotic. I would want all yours in one field together with no other horses, then you can deal with them, exactly as you see fit.
I would also consider de-sensitising her to the pig by putting her and another non-reactive horse in the paddock next to it. that should stand her in good stead for the future, wherever she meets a pig.
 

Ambers Echo

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Thanks for advice everyone. I will talk to YO in morning. I think my 3 in the 2 acres is the plan with some Pig-Time unless others feels that she may injure herself if I flood her with something she can't cope with. Flooding instead of gradual exposure does have risks with people. It can actually leave them traumatised and verging on phobic of the feared object which is the opposite of the intended outcome. Though it is also quick and effective for most. Not sure for horses.

Amber and Dolly don't give 2 stuffs about the pig so putting her with one of them might be a good idea if I am going down that route.
 

milliepops

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I think you will have to suck it and see if you want to try the pig thing. It would have been disastrous with Millie. I think you'll know pretty fast tbh. I did solve (mostly) her cow problem by turning out next to horses that didn't mind them, with cattle the other side of the fence. She remains highly suspicious but would settle in the field. But the pig would have been too much for her.
 

scats

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Haven’t read all the replies but I have a box walker. She will try to box walk when you rug her up, groom her, tack her up...
If something stresses her out, she will box walk.
She’s much better than she was when I got her her 2 years ago, but I don’t think it’s something I will ever fully be able to fix. If she’s stressed in the field, she will pace the fence line aswell.
She can be completely irrational and get herself in a twist for no real reason. Last night for instance, I went to towel dry her legs after I had brought her in and she took one look at the towel (same towel I always use) and set off around her box. I know her really well now and I knew if I tried to force her to stand and have her legs dried at that point, we would have had a total meltdown. Infact, at that moment, if I’d tried to do anything with her- brush her, pick out her feet, she’d have just gone into a further box walking frenzy. So I just walk away and let her chill. When I bought her, the dealer very honestly told me she didn’t like her in the stable and that she was a nightmare. So she’s been like this for a long while.
 

Ambers Echo

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Thanks for all the replies. I have given notice and accepted the stable on the new yard. Right on cue Deedee has settled down considerably. Typical! She is now finishing her (huge) nets whereas before she was only picking. Stable much less churned up overnight. I am obviously very relieved and pleased, but now what! Perhaps I'll move Amber instead. Though that might unsettle Deedee all over again as she is stabled opposite Amber and clearly takes comfort from her. And in other news, Amber has tweaked something in the field and is lame. Back right leg not front right foot so totally unrelated to her previous injury although also caused by being a prat in the field I suspect.

Horses - always give you something to worry about!
 

Trouper

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I think your new girl is obviously feeling very insecure in a new place and is clinging to anyone and everyone who seems to know "what the form is" - ie running off and not being caught. She is just trying to fit in and, as well as all that, there is the dratted pig!! If she seems to be settling - and she may take a bit of a backward step when Amber leaves - i think I would persevere with your plans and give her a bit more time. She is obviously having all her horsey needs met in terms of care but she is possibly just a nervous Nellie when not actually doing anything to take her mind off it. And now for the far out bit!! - if it carries on I would consider getting an animal communicator out to find out just where/what the problem is. Have found invaluable insights from mine in identifying just where the worry was coming from.
 

milliepops

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Oh no! sorry to hear about Amber. And I know exactly what you mean about always having something to worry about. Sometimes you can't do right for doing wrong!

Maybe going back to the original plan to move Amber so you get the facilities you need is the right thing now then. Can you swap your current stables around while you're on notice so that Deedee is opposite your other one, so she can start to pall up with her (for want of a better word) and therefore not miss Amber so keenly when she goes?
 
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My friend had a horse who had practically loaded itself for 7 years and then one day during a long wait in between classes she showed it a pet pig behind a fence at a show centre. The horse reacted incredibly strongly, was visibly shaking like a leaf after said pig snorted at him. He was scared stupid. That day he took 3/4 hour to load and kept staring in the distance towards the pig. She was convinced he thought the pig was going to accompany him home. From the day on he was problematic to load, she'd had no issues on the journey to the show centre nor before that time, so knew it was nothing to do with the transport.

Even now following a horse behaviourist visit she continues to encounter problems with loading. Whilst it may not be anything to do with the pig now, she knows that horse has an incredible fright that day and although he will hack out past pigs in paddocks and farmyards that has caused its own issue.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a horse is a prey animal and a pig is a predator. As in the eyes of the horse that is instinct going back thousands of years when wild boars would chase a horse and 'gut' a live horses belly with its tusks and wait for it to drop dead so they could feast on it. Tying to convince a horse otherwise is like trying to convince it not to eat grass!
 
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Mister Ted

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Its still early days and will take a bit of time to get used to for her the new coming and goings around her yard.I had a horse that almost bolted on seeing a sheep unexpectedly in the yard even though he had a flock them in his field! Ive heard a stainless steel horse mirror in their stable can help calm tense horses. Spending as much time with her will help create trust between you and come someone to rely on and look forward to seeing you each day.
 

Ambers Echo

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Oh no! sorry to hear about Amber. And I know exactly what you mean about always having something to worry about. Sometimes you can't do right for doing wrong!

Maybe going back to the original plan to move Amber so you get the facilities you need is the right thing now then. Can you swap your current stables around while you're on notice so that Deedee is opposite your other one, so she can start to pall up with her (for want of a better word) and therefore not miss Amber so keenly when she goes?
Dolly is nowhere near them. She is in the pony barn with Jenny on a separate part of the yard. Amber and Deedee are on the top yard in the horse sized stables. But Deedee is next to a horse she has palled up with so I think she will be ok. Though there are other advantages to moving her - turn out on the 2 acres is not a long term solution as that is meant for horses that need to be isolated for whatever reason. It does not share a fence line with other horses. It's where my 3 went when they had strangles for example. So I can use it temporarily while waiting to move but not permanently. If Amber moves I need to think about where Deedee can go. But by then all the horses on the 8 acres will be coming in at night so perhaps she can go back in there? Oh it's all far too complicated!

Another random complication is the issue of YOs. As I said on the other thread my current YO is the nicest most helpful most experienced and skilled YO I have ever known. She will be endlessly flexible, will problem solve etc. When horses go through fencing her husband mutters 'bloody horses' but within an hour is out there fixing fence and never blames the horse or charges for repairs. When a livery's new horse had a foal totally unexpectedly one night she was out there making a safe barn for mare and foal and rearranged everything with no notice to facilitate an unexpected BOGOF foal. Then broke it in a few years later for the owner. She drives people to vets, sorts out PTS for people who fall apart at the thought of that, nurses sick horses etc etc etc. From what I have heard, new YO is fine but not hands on or helpful in that way. Do I really want to leave such great support for better facilities and risk a YO who is not interested in making things work if it becomes hard work to do it? My YO was quite upset when I said I was moving Deedee and came up with a load of things she had been thinking of to try and help. So now I feel I might be doing the wrong thing. But my eventing friends who are on the new yard say it's great there. If you are experienced then you just get on with it. I don't feel I need help with Amber who is a very straight forward mare to handle - well mannered, confident, easy going, non destructive. So maybe I'd be ok??

Diagnosis for Amber is mud fever. Though she has no sign of it! But her leg is HUGE with no heat or lameness and view is that it is a skin reaction not an injury. Vet is giving me flamazine and an antibiotic cream and medicated wash.

Sorry this has turned into an essay. Just struggling to make the final, final decision. My YO is not offering my stable to folk on the wait list till I have actually gone in case I change my mind! Which is nice but makes the decision harder as I do still have the option of just staying put with all 3.
 
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