Hello Shawna, I want some assist with a brand new behaviour that is lately come out in my horse. We (my horses and I) have lately moved to a brand new property and it appears to have made my horse anxious. Once I tie him up within the wash bay to be groomed, or washed or saddled, he is not going to cease swaying and weaving and customarily fidgeting. It is not like him in any respect. I believed it may need been separation anxiousness so I introduced his paddock mate out and tied him up reverse however the behaviour did not actually subside. I can saddle okay (he stands completely nonetheless then!) and after I’m really grooming him he is okay too but when he is left to his personal gadgets the anxiousness appears to return out. I have been clicking like mad each time he stands nonetheless however we have performed about half a dozen classes and there hasn’t actually been any enchancment. Any recommendations could be appreciated! Using and lunging and basic coaching he’s okay. It is simply being tied up within the wash bay. Thanks for any assist
RESPONSE: Hello Leone, I at all times want our horses might simply inform us what it’s that has them so fearful in these kind of conditions. I do have some concepts of issues to do. I counsel attempting to do as a lot as you may with him at another place moreover the wash stall, or a minimum of do not go away him alone in there for now. When he will get the possibility to get fearful he’s rehearsing this conduct and it tends to turn into a stronger a part of his repertoire. I think about that this wash stall reminds him of one thing from his previous. Possibly he had some medical process or wound tended to whereas in an identical wash stall and he associates this example with an disagreeable expertise. We might be working towards constructing a brand new reinforcement historical past with this wash stall, one which has a superb affiliation. Earlier than you start consider what you are able to do to assist set him up for achievement. Something that will assist him out for now. For instance, possibly flip him out earlier than hand so he has an opportunity to burn off some further vitality. What ever you assume could assist him out. We’ll fade this stuff out later as he will get extra snug however for now they could serve him properly. There may be additionally multiple reinforcer, and even two reinforcers at work right here. One is the usage of meals as a optimistic reinforcement for relaxed conduct. The second is your presence (since he appears to get fearful when he’s left alone) and the third is taking him out of the wash stall. So remember what he’s doing when any of those reinforcers occur. I’m pondering that he will get fairly fearful when he’s left alone. So we wish to work inside his consolation zone. I might counsel working his time within the wash stall as a coaching session for now. It will often assist to maintain you targeted on his conduct and never distracted by doing different duties. You might do some grooming but it surely ought to not likely be your goal for now. The small snippets of grooming duties will really serve to be constructing blocks for the top product of standing quietly whereas being groomed, tacked up or bathed however extra importantly standing quietly when on his personal.
Because it appears he’s quiet when you’re in very shut proximately I might counsel grooming after which stepping again a bit. It could assist at first to step away to the again and sides versus strolling away from the entrance which can trigger extra anxiousness. This half will take slightly testing to find out what’s the most uncomfortable after which break that right down to smaller steps or issues that trigger much less fear. Okay, so to illustrate, once you step away from him within the wash stall, he’s good for 30 seconds after which he begins worrying. Click on and reinforce (with meals) at 28 seconds, whereas he’s nonetheless relaxed. Your presence will even function a reinforcement. If that goes properly, transfer to 30 seconds, if that goes properly possibly go to 32 seconds. I might then take him out of the wash stall which is one other reinforcement for his good efficiency. Maintaining the classes brief and candy helps him to succeed. He learns that if I’m good this may all be over. Slowly construct and construct, extra time and additional away. Too sluggish is best than too quick for this sort of challenge. Once more, we’re on the lookout for him to follow the proper conduct, to type new habits. As you construct increasingly time I might additionally counsel approximations which are brief in length in addition to the longer ones. This helps to maintain you from being too predictable. It sort of retains them guessing and on their toes. Additionally chances are you’ll step again as much as him and typically work on one thing he is aware of or is studying. Nevertheless, hold it easy, profitable and reinforcing. Now to illustrate, you unintentionally push it too far and he will get fearful, I might not method till he settles down, a minimum of considerably. In the event you continuously come to his rescue when he acts up he’ll assume that that is how I get consolation (or reduction) and his conduct will enhance in frequency. That being stated, you additionally don’t desire him, or anybody else, to get harm, so if he will get downright panicked you will want to maintain security in thoughts and step in, Then take some steps again to rebuild his confidence.
One other factor that may assist is that if on the finish of those good classes, have his dinner or breakfast prepared and let him eat his dinner within the wash stall. I might put it in a bathtub on the bottom so you aren’t holding it. We wish to construct up a little bit of independence. Fairly quickly he’ll sit up for his time within the wash stall since good issues occur there. Properly Leone, these are my recommendations for tonight. I could have extra ideas later…I often do however I believe this may get you stepping into the best route. Please let me know the way issues are going and provides me some updates! :0)
REPLY: Thanks a lot in your recommendations Shawna. Feels higher to be armed with some skilled recommendation. Have already performed some brief classes and I believe we’re heading in the right direction. Will certainly let you understand how we go.
My Horse is a Nervous Nelly in The Wash Bay!