In the beginning of owning Ink, he stayed in a stall with a decent sized attached paddock. Then he enjoyed pasture living. But when I moved him to a nice, new barn (the one I’m at now) Ink was to have a stall with a separate, private paddock for all day turn-out. When I first introduced him to the stall, he wasn’t happy. He called and shuffled in there. It was a tense, un-happy dwelling. But who could blame him? He most-likely spent almost his entire life in a box.
I’m pretty diligent when it comes to biting bad habits. You know what I mean? Let’s say you have a horse who your friend owns. You go to visit said friend and her horse. Horse is amazing, a dream, he’s pure beauty, but when you ask your friend more about the horse, curious about history and personality, you learn that this horse hates baths or maybe the horse hates to be caught. To me, those things are things that could be fixed through training and time. I am the first to say that Ink was in the end, just the way he was. Things about him, were either never going to change or would take additional years to fully get through. But isn’t it annoying when a horse has a fixable habit but yet the owner refuses to do anything to fix it?
In a way, these habits in-directly effect the horse’s willingness and attitude under saddle or while being handled. So when Ink showed signs of stress and discomfort in the stalling department, I took it up as an opportunity to get to know him better and possibly eliminate this stress factor. I realize that a quick fix would be to just avoid the stall all-together. I mean who really needs a stall besides a horse requiring one for rehab? Plus, he’d been in one for most of his life, was it really necessary to even try to deal with this issue? Afterall, I would feel the same way about a box too… But think about it. What happens if your horse does get injured and needs to be on stall rest? Or what happens when you go to an overnight show or clinic that only offers box stalls? In both scenarios it would be detrimental to a rebabbing horse to be stressed in a stall and how stressful would a show be if you have a horse would would freak at the thought of being inside one? All these things and more are possible. So with Ink, I re-introduced him to a stall and made it a happy place. Anything he enjoyed, including graining, grooming or hanging out after a ride reciving carrots and treats re-enforced the idea that this place was actually GOOD. So eventually, Ink became a happy camper inside and that was one less thing on his negative list. My goal; to abolish the list!
Reason, I’m approaching the same way. And on that note, I changed my program. Instead of going to the wash-rack, I began taking him to the barn, next to the wash-rack, to graze and walk inside. Yesterday, he spent his first little bit inside his stall munching on his rice bran and alfalfa pellets. I left him in there, (he was a little confused, but calm) while I turned in his neighbors and finished some things. He was quiet. It was an easy experience. I’ll be repeating this every evening or day, leaving him in there a little longer at a time. And eventually he’ll be on a turn-in schedule 2 nights a week for now. Because he’s injured, I don’t want him pent up inside, but I do want to introduce him to a more solid, comfortable, routine.