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Vices - how do people view them these days?

(25 Posts)
skihorse Sun 04-Oct-09 15:21:18

My girl weaves in the box. From my pov it's far from ideal but I understand she just wants to be in the fields sniffing arses. But in days gone by people used to freak out if their horse had a "stable vice" - are people taking a more homeopathic view towards things these days? She has hanging toys and tons of hay - does anyone have any experience with stable mirrors? Would it make a difference do you think?

E.g., Richard Maxwell talks about putting a collar on a wind-sucker and the stress then came out through colic. Twice in two days!

Pixel Sun 04-Oct-09 19:21:51

I think it depends on the vice. We were prepared to overlook windsucking in a horse that was otherwise perfect for us. Our vet said he wouldn't see it as a huge problem in a happy hacker as long as it wasn't going to drive us mad! (someone else beat us to the horse unfortunately so we never had to find out).
On the other hand, there is a woman at our place who turns a blind eye to her horse's crib-biting but I would really hate that. Her shelter and fences are a mess and I would be worried about splinters and ulcers. Plus her horse bites people as well, I don't know if the two are related but he seems to have to bite the nearest thing, whatever or whoever it is. Dhorse thought he'd have a go at copying and I was straight out buying Cribox! Luckily it worked and he hasn't done it since.
Not sure about weaving. Does it actually do any damage? If it's just annoying I guess I'd just try and ignore. Haven't any experience of mirrors, sorry. Do those grilles that go over the door do any good?

skihorse Mon 05-Oct-09 08:32:18

Well this is kind of what I'm getting at Pixel. It's suggested that stable "vices" are a way of relieving stress/boredom when they're locked up in a box rather than out with the herd. So when you paint the surfaces with something yucky-tasting, or you put up a grille or try and restrict the behaviour in some way the horse is still stressed - but now it will come out another way, e.g., the colic in Richard Maxwell's horse.

I believe that stable vices are a result of unnatural living conditions. My mare doesn't weave in the fields and whilst I don't like seeing her do it - I wouldn't want to try and stop the weaving - she'd end up wind-sucking, or cribbing, or blah de blah. From my pov it's like the polar bears at the zoo who walk circuits around their cages day-in, day-out.

Btw, I think I meant holistic approach, not homeopathic approach. Brain dead sundays et al.

frostyfingers Mon 05-Oct-09 08:44:23

My TB weaves in a box, even though one side is open with a grille so he can see his neighbours, but he also weaves in the yard or in the field whenever he's frustrated. I don't stable him unless absolutely necessary, but otherwise there's nothing I can do.

It may be worth putting rubber matting at front of stable so that she does less damage to her legs when weaving. If it's really bad they can wear their shoes out and hurt their legs.

skihorse Mon 05-Oct-09 09:33:02

The rubber matting is a good idea frosty thank you. She's a bit sore through her right shoulder right now and it's either this or she's been thumped in the field again (very likely!). I will get some matting and if I'm ever in the UK again I'll try one of these mirrors (they don't sell them here) but tbh I just don't think it'll make a difference. She's not shod and she doesn't seem to lift her feet when she does it so she's not wearing down the feet.

She's got a great view from her box and she can see her neighbours... but she wants to be running free and there's bugger all I can do about that. Just remembered, I have seen her weave in the field - when I've been "late" delivering hay!

Poledra Mon 05-Oct-09 09:39:22

I have no advice to offer but wanted to ask you knowledgeable ladies WTF 'windsucking' is?!

skihorse Mon 05-Oct-09 09:54:23

They can either grab hold of for example the top of a stable door between their teeth or just "thin air", then they sort of straighten their throat out between head and neck and suck & swallow air.

You know, like a 6 year old boy trying to make a fart factory! wink

Pixel Mon 05-Oct-09 18:16:21

The horse that crib bites lives out all the time though and so does mine so I can't see any harm in trying to stop them doing it.

I do see your point about curing one problem and creating a worse one. It is the same with my autistic son's stims, if you stop him lining up the videos or flapping his arms he will only start doing something else and it will possibly be more annoying/dangerous! You have to try and turn a blind eye sometimes, despite tutting family members hmm.

Wouldn't it be easier to just leave your horse out more? (genuine question, not criticising).

skihorse Mon 05-Oct-09 19:17:42

Maybe creosote tastes yummy? wink Seriously, maybe there's some vitamin or nutrient in the wood - or or maybe it's just out looking for trouble.

That makes total sense about your son.

I wish she could be out 24/7 but I just can't find anywhere within a 100 mile radius that will do it - except one place which has a very strong IH ethic, you MUST ride without a bit, a whip, spurs, etc., etc. I'm happy to embrace some of it... but not all.

Pixel Mon 05-Oct-09 21:14:10

That's a shame. I once had to move at short notice because the cow yard owner wouldn't let me leave my old boy out all night. She obviously preferred to see him suffer. We had recently lost our other old horses quite close together (my boy's constant companions for 20 odd years so naturally he was upset) and he started to box-walk and sweat in the stable. He was so distraught by the mornings that it took about 10 mins to change his rugs and to get out of the stable at night I had to tie him up, shut the stable door, then go into the next stable and stand on a box to lean over the wall and get his headcollar off. Otherwise he would just barge out with me. He was calm in the field so it was either move or have him put down, but he was only 24.
Luckily, within a week of moving he was back to his old placid, loving self and had another four happy years after that. I still haven't forgiven the old bag who owned the yard!

Sorry, being thick but I can't work out what IH is?

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 08:19:12

Intelligent Horsemanship, you know - the Monty Roberts/Kelly Marks/Parelli stuff. At this place they ride without bridles sometimes - just a stirrup leather around the neck. That's really nice 'n all - but I don't have 6 hours a day to bond with my girl and get the levels of trust up - nor do I have 100 helpers to run next to me carrying mattresses/blocking roads for the inevitible! wink

I'm sorry to hear about your old boy - would it really have killed the YO to let him calm down over the course of a few weeks? Losing his pal must've been hard.

MookySpinge Tue 06-Oct-09 08:29:00

Is that what used to be called 'natural horsemanship', where it is ok to let your horse buck because he is just 'expressing himself'?

Sounds a bit dangerous!

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 08:42:44

It depends mooky - e.g., Richard Maxwell looks in complete control when he's doing it and I'm very proud of my girl being able to neck-rein. But I don't have 500 of my own acres and I'm not riding on the fecking roads without a bridle! wink

I've never heard that about the bucking.

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 08:43:53

... although you could argue that my refusal to ride without a bit or bridle is because my horse doesn't respond well to me because I'm a numpty and can't ride properly! wink

MookySpinge Tue 06-Oct-09 08:47:59

That's just how it was at a yard where my friend used to ride - they were a bit extreme with their natural horsemanship approach. My friend got banned because she forgot herself and gave a horse a little kick when it wouldn't move.

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 09:01:04

Well I'd be double hmm by this yard, having chatted with westwhippet last week I decided to go back to using my Pelham yesterday. It was the first time I'd ridden out alone at my new yard (new area) and first time I'd ridden in 12 days because she'd had a sore shoulder. Anyway it was a fairly slow ride, mostly walking & trotting with just one canter - anyway she was bloody amazing. I don't know why I keep fighting with the snaffle.

It's funny really, I need a stronger contact (read: when she's galloping it takes ALL my strength to stop her) with a snaffle - yet with the Pelham I have such a light light contact - in fact I'm sure some would tell me to shorten my reins grin and she drops her head and just works beautifully.

I am a kruuuuuel mummy! (obviously)

boudoiricca Tue 06-Oct-09 10:18:51

Good lord! If one were to fully follow this "natural horsemanship" lark then surely a days ride would consist of you sitting on the horse as it grazed from one side of the field to the other and then standing under the shade of a tree for a couple of hours... And what's so "natural" about sitting on a horse anyway!

I'm all for a kind minimum-intervention approach, but that's just bonkers!

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 10:52:11

Natural Horsemanship at a lower level is not about that, so don't dismiss it out of hand!

At a basic level it's using body-language and effective groundwork rather than cussing out your horse because it moves when you're grooming. One of my pet peeves is having people swear and shout at a horse for moving.

It's doing things like getting your horse to back up without pushing it, dragging it - in fact no contact whatsoever.

I can lunge my girl without a rope using only voice commands.

But I'm not going to abandon my bridle!

MookySpinge Tue 06-Oct-09 13:08:51

It sounds kinder and more intuitive than your classic/bhs type approach. I'm rubbish at traditional bossiness anyway, in fact when I first bought my horse I'd patiently wait for him to finish his haynet before hopping on board. It seemed rude to interrupt blush!

Have toughened up a bit now though, I no longer fall for his 'but they are starving me here' act grin

GothMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 14:07:35

Hi there
My mum's Cleveland bay x windsucks almost constantly, and has done since he was a foal (we got him at 6 months old). None of our others ever windsucked, so he certainly didnt copy them, and we had stables at home so he could go in and out as he pleased (so not a stress reaction from unnatural house management etc). He has just always done it, and still does! We tried the miracle collar but it made him colic

My Appy x connemara chews wood which I find very embarrasing as I have to mend stables and as I now rent its not mine and I feel very guilty! Again he is always been kept along natural lines, i think its just something that he does because he thinks its fun. He even chews fence posts. He does not have ulcers of anything that we can put down to a cause of it.

And my TB x weaves and box walks like crazy when stabled But I have only had him 6 months so I dont know his full history, but he has had a bad time of it in the past (has permanent whip mark scars) so I wouldnt be suprised if bad keeping and management had stressed him out. In his case, I also suspect that he does have ulcers, so I keep him out 24/7 when weather isnt atrocious and feed ad lib hay. He is a lot better now and does not weave in the field as he did when I first got him!

GothMummy Tue 06-Oct-09 14:10:20

Ooops, meant to add that I have never had a problem moving them onto different yards, and never had an instance of anyone complaining that their horse was copying the vices that mine had.

HOWEVER my Appy has picked up an annoying habit of kicking the door at feed time from the horse next door!

I think people are a lot more tolerant now and "vices" are more understood as expressions of the horse's stress etc.

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 14:14:39

Gothmummy First off I am so unbelievably jealous of your mum's Cleveland Bay! envy OUch re your poor TB, people are bastards.

I have had a couple of people mention that their horse will "catch" the vice - but like you, I've never seen any evidence of a spread - and when I explain the stress factor most people say "oh yes, of course".

As for being embarassed at livery yards, madame smashed down the paddock fence twice, kept jumping out of "solitary" (stoopid rules!) and has a habit of leaning against tape until it goes "pop". blush

skihorse Tue 06-Oct-09 14:15:21

Oh and when I first got her she ditched me and cantered up and down YO's perfect lawn whinnying at the stallions in the stallion paddock! grin He was FURIOUS - pompous french twat!

Pixel Tue 06-Oct-09 20:58:44

Intelligent horsemanship - of course! I knew that one but I kept thinking 'natural' and nothing else would come into my head.blush
Mooky, never mind your friend giving a little kick, we saw the Parelli demonstration at Windsor and we all (me, sis and friend) noticed the girl jabbing her horse with spurs the whole time!

Southwestwhippet Wed 07-Oct-09 12:19:03

skihorse congrats - great to hear about your success with the pelham grin

Natural Horsemanship is a sadly misused phrase I think. Basically I understand it to mean a way of communicating with your horse that reflects the way he functions and communicates with other horses in the wild.

So it doesn't mean 'letting him buck as he is expressing himself' but more understanding that a horse may buck for many reasons and that if a horse bucks out of 'high spirits' it doesn't mean he is nasty and needs to be punished, just that perhaps he has more energy at that time... so next time you might choose to lunge him before you get on.

A lot of it is basically the common horse sense that sadly has been lost in recent years as so many novices now own horses. It talks about using your body language and your 'presence' to influence the way a horse behaves and gives people instructions as to how to achieve this. Most seriously horsey people already know most of it instinctively but for new owners or people who are struggling it can be very useful. Especially if you find yourself with a dominant horse and want to find a route to being 'top horse' than doesn't involve anger and frustration from you.

It is very interesting and i find that it works well alongside the more traditional BHS background which is where I came from. NH is not about always being nice to your horse either, sometimes horses in the field will be very strict with each other to establish herd order... and you are expected to be able to emulate this in the way you handle the horse. But horses are never 'angry' or 'frustrated' with each other, they are just being horses and NH is useful for teaching you new techniques that mean you can control your horse calmly and rationally.

It does have the reputation of being 'fluffy bunny huggers' but I think a lot of this is due to the fact that people often only turn to NH when the old methods fail, they are already scared of their horse and it is a last ditch attempt to solve the problem. Obviously this is not a positive mental state to learn new techniques as you are starting from a broken relationship where you are in fear. For me I discovered NH from the perspective of working with horses every day and having very little fear of them but wanting a more 'controlled' approach which incorporated better understanding of what the horses were 'saying' when they so called played up.

I wouldn't call myself a NH devotee but I do think it is very interesting.

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