General

The Ongoing Lizzie Drama

*sigh* I swear, this horse will be the death of me. Perhaps literally…

On a good note, there is a series of unaffiliated winter dressage shows locally that I want to enter her in, starting with the beginning of October. I’d like to affiliate her when the season starts. Phil watched me work her last night, and as I finished, I asked him to open the arena gates so I could ride her out. It was going to be a 50/50 chance of her walking back to the yard calmly, or her trying to do a mad dash back to the safety of her stall (duck!!!). Fortunately, she walked (ok, so she pranced and jogged) back relatively calmly. :)

Then, this morning, she’d finished all of her hay during the night and was obviously in a major snit over having felt a bit peckish during the night; as I stepped into her stall she snaked her head at me, teeth snapping, reared and pawed, and then as she came down she lashed out with one hind foot. Bitch. As a rule, she doesn’t like people in her stall, but when food is involved she gets nasty. I’ve no desire to be kicked in the teeth someday, so I think I’m going try turning her straight out into the small paddock or outside ring in the morning, if someone can bring her in at noon. I always turn her out while I clean her stall, as she’s bitten several times, and threatened to kick. I repeat, I need a horse whisperer…lol. She’s not an unaffectionate horse; she always nickers when I arrive at the stable and she does a “happy dance” when she knows I’m going to take her out of the turnout and put her back in the stall. I don’t understand what is going through her head re the stall issue, as that seems to be her safe place. Perhaps she’s been threatened in a stall, I don’t know – although the girl who owned her didn’t seem the type. She’s a mystery.

7 Comments

  • wandringsoul

    I really don’t think Annie would have harmed a hair on Lizzie’s head…the tears she shed when parting with her just confirm that for me…

    I think she’s just nutso…

  • wandringsoul

    …or a cattle-prod.

    Failing that – a quad bike. They’re faster, cheaper, jump higher/farther, east less, cost less, you break it, you buy spares and fix it. And they smell better too.

    : )

    Plus – I’d probably get one.

  • dryadmeagenn

    So long as it’s not raining, or if there’s an open sided shelter, how about feeding her outside in the turnout? From what I’ve read, you seem to turn her out solo, so there wouldn’t be the competition from another horse for feed. And if she doesn’t get feed (grain) in her stall she may start re-thinking about a stall being “her space”. Not to mention that she can eat outside (like a horse!) while you clean the stall. An added benefit may be that she’ll quit hating being turned out if that’s where she gets fed. This is under the thought that you feed grain as well as hay.

    Hmm, even if it is raining/drizzling (you are in England after all–LOL) that’s just more moisture for her system as long as she cleans up her grain. You just don’t want it to sit around and get mouldy. Probably scrubbing the feed bucket every day or two would be a good idea if you want to do this.

    I doubt she’s been threatened while IN a stall–if she were, then she’d be more likely to want to AVOID the stall–not stay in there forever.

    Some thoughts and speculation….
    How was she raised as a foal? Was she part of a herd of broodmares and foals? Was she allowed to be part of a horse herd and socialize as a horse does when she was young? Or was she kept in a stall alone, with little to no turnout, once she was weaned and treated as an “only child”? Many of the behavior problems you’ve described sound a lot like a somewhat spoiled, only horse-child that was never associated with her own peers/species as a youngling. She doesn’t know how to act/communicate with other horses so every time you’ve tried to put her with them there’s a blow-up and someone gets hurt, right? If she’s not used to being outside without a person, that might explain some of the panicked turnout behavior, as well as why she wants to stay in her stall. This also fits with her good behavior working in the arena–she’s with a person, not turned out alone.
    How is she grazing on a lead-line? Will she even graze then? What are the stalls like where you are? Are they solid walls between them or are they bars/fenceing/something more open between them? In other words, when she’s in her stall, can she SEE and sniff noses with her neighbors? (but not get hooves or teeth through!) If she can, how does she behave towards them then?

    If we can figure out WHY she behaves as she does, then we can begin to think of what can be done to make her behavior more acceptable. Look to her history–not just the girl you got her from who seems to have loved her, but before that–check into the treatment/raising as a baby/weanling/yearling and her early training. How long has she been behaving like this?

    So there’s some ideas and things to think about and look into. I may not be an official “horse whisperer” (LOL), but I’ve always managed to get along well with horses that give everyone else major problems (including charging/attacking while turned out and biting–I grab them by the halter and bite them back HARD on their nose!, etc). Lizzie doesn’t sound maliciously vicious, just a little insecure and possesive about “HER” space/stall.

    Sorry, this got a little long. If you want to take this idea exchange off-list, my email is cececox@hotmail.com

  • uathsaille

    Just a quick thanks for that (on my way to work!). Good theories about why she’s like this; I think she was reared in isolation to an extent, as she obviously has NO connection to other horses, will settle and graze if hand-walked but not on her own, etc. Plus the fact that other, normally friendly horses automatically dislike her (as if she’s sending very weird messages). I think I will have to turn her out in the mornings and feed her there, as long as someone can keep an eye on her while she’s out. The outdoor arena and the small “sick” paddock aren’t completely secure, and I wouldn’t trust a horse in there alone for any length of time. When the horses start coming back in at night, in the late fall, she’ll have some contact through the bars with the horse next to her, so that will be good.

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