Q: I’ve had my 11-year-old gelding for six weeks and he hates being turned out. He’s not being bullied by the other horses and he can’t be cold as I’ve put a new rug on him, but he stands at the fence looking longingly back at the stables. I know his previous owners did turn him out but they told me he is a bit of a loner and likes coming in.Can you help?
Sarah Bland, yard manager at Warwickshire College, replies: This problem is not uncommon, but people with horses that won’t settle in a stable will be jealous! I suspect his behaviour is due to a number of things:
- He may have been bullied in the past, and therefore stays away from other horses
- He may have spent much of his time in a stable, in which case it is a habit that will take time to change
- You’ve put him in strange surroundings and I expect there are similarities between his old stable and yours, which will give him some security over the first few weeks.
All horses will be unsettled by different surroundings. You seem to have understood him well – just give him a bit more time. Bit by bit, lengthen the period he is turned out. If he seems quiet and patient he will be fine.
It doesn’t sound as if he has a problem with the other horses he is turned out with, so there’s no point trying to create bonds as it might backfire on you.
If I were you, I’d appreciate what you have. With time you’ll find him happy to remain out, and you’ve got a horse that isn’t nappy or clingy and is happy to be in his stable!