My horse wants to eat and dismantle the barn every night - what can I do?
Clearly, this is a bored/smart/silly horse that has more time and interest in making trouble than anything else. It's also very dangerous, and can lead to big expensive Veterinary and Plumbing bills. I can hear you guys now - more turnout! YES YES YES - but it's not always possible. A horse on stall rest, horribly ice storms, and rotating pasture schedules might mean a horse needs to be in the barn. Here are some ideas to get you started on modifying this behavior while the barn is necessary.
Get creative. This hay net hangs outside so that the goats and horses can interact. A nice change of scenery from just looking at stall walls!
- Have your Veterinarian do a complete exam and look for an medical issues, just in case.
- Be sure your horse's diet is on target. Is your horse missing something that is making him look for it in your barn? Your actual barn?? Work with your Veterinarian or Nutritionist to make sure.
- Is your horse getting enough exercise?? Would changing the routine from morning to night work? Or vice versa?
- Does your horse have enough social time? Consider adding a good horse buddy right next door if you can shuffle the horses around.
Toys are good for bored and destructive horses!
- Have you tried hanging a mirror in the stall? (not glass, of course!)
- You need to coat your pipes, doors, etc. with a deterent. Be sure to use one that does not test if you show. A bar of soap (the stinkiest you can find) works wonders.
- Add toys to your horse's stall.
- Can you feed a bit less in the day and use a hay net or other slow feeder overnight? Maybe you want to only feed grain in the am and lunch, and not pm?
- Is your horse getting enough turnout?
- Have you tried another stall? Some horses just don't like their neighbors!
- Is your horse allergic to something in the environment that makes him irritated or uncomfortable and therefore acting out? (Remember that allergies can often have very varied signs!!)
Some horses like different types of toys.
The real challenge here is finding out WHY your horse is tearing up the barn. Then go from there!