Horse Behavior – Stall Kicking
January 21, 2011 by cherryhillhorsekeeping
I have 8 year old Appaloosa mare which I owned for 4 years. She is a willing, easy going mare but a little on the spooky side though. I have just moved her from the farm she has lived on since birth (paid to board her there) to my place. I also have my friend’s horse stabled with her who was also from the same farm and was stalled beside her.
My problem is she is kicking her stall. I’m at a lost at the cause. I thought the cause is out of frustration but not sure. She did kick her stall some at the farm too but not at this degree. I’m afraid she is going to hurt herself if I don’t figure out the cause. I can watch her go right into it. She will pin her ears back and tuck in her chin, back up to the stall wall then kick repeatedly. It can progressive get worse if left on her own vice until she’s satisifed.
I’ve had to do repairs to her stall I know. I can prevent her from kicking if I catch her at the right moment. It takes several corrections but she will stop except I can’t be there everytime. If she allowed do it, she will kick up to 5ft to 6ft up the stall wall.
I thought the cause was from frustration at being stalled at night but she does it when she allow to run in/out of her stall too. I haven’t been feeding her very much grain about 1/2lb a day but has free access to hay. I haven’t been working her too much to allow her to settle in. She has a acre paddock that she and the other horse to run in which she out in it at least 1/2 the day.
Have any suggestions what I can do?
A behavior like this is a stall vice since it is occurs in the horse’s living environment irrespective of the presence of people or handling. It is usually a response to management or confinement. With all such vices, you need to eliminate all potential causes some of which you have already mentioned and it sounds like you are aware of, but for sake of completeness, here is a checklist:
Be sure the horse is getting ample exercise in the form of purposeful work.
Be sure the horse is getting ample turnout time alone and with other horses if compatible and safe.
Make sure the horse’s ration is appropriate for the level of work.
Check to see if there is an issue with neighboring horses, that is, if the kicking occurs when a particular horse is nearby.
Since this is a mare, observe the occurrence of stall kicking in relation to her estrous cycle.
Once you’ve evaluated the above and taken necessary measures, I’d suggest getting the mare back into her normal work schedule.
I’ve posted an article on stall kicking on my website that might give you some more insight and ideas, but most of these repetitive behaviors disappear once a horse is given enough exercise and something else to occupy them.
Best of luck. I’d like to hear how things progress with your mare and I welcome comments and suggestions from readers – just click on Leave a Comment at the end of this post.