Extreme separation anxiety

Hey
I have a 12yr old TB with extreme separation anxiety from one of my other horses. I had them at separate barns and he only started living with her the last 6 months or so and about 3 months ago we moved to our own barn where it’s just the two of them and they have in and outs into the same paddock and he seems to have latched on to her.

I never leave him alone, they either go to horse shows together or I bring my other horse to keep him company if I am leaving him alone. I tried recently taking him off property with a friends horse and it was a disaster. He is perfect on the trailer if my other horse is there only.

It seems to have been getting worse to the point that if we are at a show together and she walks 3 feet away from him he looses it. He sweats, paws, screams for her, paces and drags whoever is holding him all over to try and follow her or find her.

He has become more of an anxious horse the last three years or so after being diagnosed with EPSM but more so under saddle and spooky. Before that he was the most easy going horse around. (I’ve had him since he was 3).

Anyone have any suggestions as to relieve any of his anxiety? Ideas for at horse shows, medications, supplements, behaviorists, horse “whisperers”, psychics, I’m open to anything at this point.

HELP!!

As long as he is living with this horse he is going to have problems leaving her. You may have to move him to a barn with other horses and he may never be able to live with her again. Is she okay alone without him?

I agree with PonyPenny. Is there a way that they can live apart for a while to see if it helps him?

Maybe get a third companion pony, even a mini, so they could live all three and alternate one in paddock next to the two and so on, and take him alone for hand walks and then trail rides or arena rides alone…ignore him if he calls, whirls etc, make him work…it can be done but is a project that takes time and must be done at home, too late to do it at a show.

There was a horse at our barn that latched onto my horse in the way you describe. She would scream and run up and down the fence line if I removed my horse from the pasture to ride. It was getting difficult to have a lesson or even to groom my horse in the crossties with this frantic mare screaming and carrying on from the pasture.

What finally helped was the arrival of another horse to change the dynamic in the pasture. Frantic mare still is still a bit fixated on my horse, but she is able to tolerate the separations because she has another friend now.

Separate them and don’t have them in the same stall. Don’t give in to him. Try feeding him So-calm or something for calming for a few days or weeks if necessary…

I recently had this happen to one of my horses. They were together in the same run and I put them in stalls next to each other due to some medical reasons and he was fine for a day and then went nutso. After talking with my vet I asked if it would be safe to try a feed through calmer. I did and it helped a lot. I have not fed him the calmer for almost a week now, keeping them in separate areas and he is doing better. Once he realized he was not going back in with his pal he has chilled out a bit. We are still in the trial period but so far it’s working.

I am sorry you are dealing with this it is very difficult.

You also created the problem by only having those two together at home. Horses are herd animals and now she is the only herd he has. Having adjoining paddocks only exacerbates the problem. Many people in this situation have a third horse or pony just do deal with it. When I had horses at home, I had a couple of goats, so that the horse left behind was ok. The horse leaving may neigh a little, but once in the trailer and on the road, she was fine. Is the horse dangerous in the trailer without her or does he just neigh and paw? This is a tough one and sometimes the owners aren’t the best ones to deal with it as the horse can sense your anxiety.

I think some horses are needier than others. :slight_smile:

No, no chance of them being speparate permenantly. I own both of them and they are at my barn that I lease and run a lesson program out of. Selling either of them is totally out of the question.

I do have a mini that lives in my backyard, he can’t stay at my barn permenantly (I could eventually build him something there) but I’m wondering if maybe having him there hanging out for the day or over night once in a while/few times a week would do anything. Maybe adding another horse to the heard would take some of my TB’s focus off the mare, knowing there’s another horse there? I wouldn’t really know until I tested it out off property when he was by himself and the mare left him though. I can’t truck around 2 horses just to keep my TB happy at a show! That’s worse then having to bring just the one! Haha

[QUOTE=MajorExpectations;7131533]No, no chance of them being speparate permenantly. I own both of them and they are at my barn that I lease and run a lesson program out of. Selling either of them is totally out of the question.

I do have a mini that lives in my backyard, he can’t stay at my barn permenantly (I could eventually build him something there) but I’m wondering if maybe having him there hanging out for the day or over night once in a while/few times a week would do anything. Maybe adding another horse to the heard would take some of my TB’s focus off the mare, knowing there’s another horse there? I wouldn’t really know until I tested it out off property when he was by himself and the mare left him though. I can’t truck around 2 horses just to keep my TB happy at a show! That’s worse then having to bring just the one! Haha[/QUOTE]

Why can’t you put them in separate stalls on your property? That’s what mine are doing and they are right next to each other. He has been so much better because he’s just not in the same stall. Have you ever tried a calming supplement? It’s worth a shot.

The funny thing is that he was sooo anti-social and nasty to the other horses when we were at big barns. He never went out with anyone else and I always had to put up plywood to block him from his neighbors. He’s been so much happier in the barn, riding, and all around since I moved him to the new barn with just my mare. It’s just off property that he gives me a problem. This is such a frustrating thing!

They do have seperat stalls, next to each other and he can see her through the too of th divider. My stalls are open to my single ring/paddock so during the day I usually open their doors and let them go in and out as they please. I do find them in the same stall sometimes, usually sharing hay but they are never locked in together. Maybe I should shut their doors while they are out another cant go in together?

I tried smart calm from smartpak for 4 months but I stopped it, seemed like a waste of money.

Thanks for all the advice, at least I’m not the only one dealing with this and he’s not the only one going through it. If nothing else the support helps!

My very alpha mare had extreme anxiety when she went to shows with another barnmate, even if she beat that horse up on a regular basis in the field.

The deal is that she did not have the good manners under saddle or on the ground to accept me as her herd leader and behave. It took lots of sweat and tears and hard productive riding but eventually she gave it up. I always had to stay on my toes about it though.

I would start from the ground up, perhaps with someone skilled in handling basic horse behavior problems.

Can you talk with your vet about ideas that help? I did find when I did not let them out together things were better for the needy horse.

[QUOTE=enjoytheride;7131640]My very alpha mare had extreme anxiety when she went to shows with another barnmate, even if she beat that horse up on a regular basis in the field.

The deal is that she did not have the good manners under saddle or on the ground to accept me as her herd leader and behave. It took lots of sweat and tears and hard productive riding but eventually she gave it up. I always had to stay on my toes about it though.

I would start from the ground up, perhaps with someone skilled in handling basic horse behavior problems.[/QUOTE]

It’s funny you mention this, I actually just spoke to a natural horsemanship trainer. I am not totally sold on the natur horsemanship ways nor will I become totally 100% “natur” but I do understand a lot of the philosophies behind it and am open to trying new things. He explained the same thing, that my horse looks to the mare as the herd leader not me. He is going to be coming to work with us and hopefully we will get somewhere this way. I’m so happy you have had some improvement. It’s nice to hear from people who have put the hard work into their horses because like me, there is no chance of giving up on yor horse. Thanks! I will post and let everyone know how it goes!

My alpha gelding can be a bit herd bound. Fortunately, it doesn’t manifest itself in royal hissy fits, but it is there.

When I first bought my horse trailer, he would first balk about getting on the trailer (just once or twice to let us know he was protesting the lack of a buddy on his trailer), then paw and throw himself against the wall in protest once he was on. He thought he should be on the big trailer with all his buddies. Honestly, I just ignored it and he got over it fairly quickly. I now trailer him1-3 times a week and I am able to load him myself. Once he’s up, you never now he’s there.

When I moved him to a new barn it manifested itself a bit. My previous barn was a large boarding facility. While they had a consistent feed and turnout schedule, in terms of time of day, the horses’ turnout schedules varied quite a bit depending on weather, tolerance, and who was at horse shows. He was sometimes the only horse in the barn or the only horse in turnout (he was relegated to private turnout because he is too alpha). He never fussed about it. His stall was also a bit isolated, so while he knew he had one neighbor on the other side of the wall, he couldn’t see other horses while in his stall.

Now he is in a smaller facility with a handful of horses. They all go out together and they all come in together. He has much more opportunity to socialize with horses, whether it is over the fence or in the barn. If he is last in or out, or needs to stay in, he fusses a bit. He also gave me a little herd-bound attitude under tack for a few rides. As enjoytheride said, as long as I gain his respect as the leader, he is fine.

I guess that is a long-winded way of saying, that based on my observations of my horse and several others in similar situations, my recommendations would be:

  1. Earn his respect as his leader both on the ground and in the tack. My gelding is always better when his focus is on me and what I am asking him to do.

  2. Try not to let him and your mare spend too much time together. Can you find a way so that they spend some time out of sight of each other for certain times of the day? Can you put them in separate fields or make it so they can’t see each other when they are in their stalls?

  3. Can you practice separating them on the trailer? Maybe put him on the trailer and move him to another part of the property and let him work itself out? Maybe with a little ace or calming supplement at first and wean him off it? For my horse, once the trailer started moving he was fine, then at the shows, there was always something for him to look at, so he was pretty happy being on the trailer alone at the show. Will this work for your horse?

As much as I understand that horses are social animals, I also think that if they are to be competition animals, they need to learn to do things by themselves and I think people who keep their horses at home or places with a small number of horses need to be diligent in working with horses in small herds to prevent this behavior. In my experience, it is not so much that you need to find your horse a buddy, it is that he needs to figure out that he can function without a buddy. It is not an easy task.

Separate them. Turn them out in separate paddocks, if possible move them to non-adjoining stalls, if not possible to do either of the above, stable one while the other is turned out and visa versa. Only way to fix it is to separate them.

My mare would jump a line then grab the bit and run out of the ring, taking out anyone in her way.

As my riding and her level of respect improved she got better. I found that working her tail off when she was thinking about her buddy really helped and eventually she gave it up.

I ALWAYS had to ride hard past an open in gate though and even two years after her herd bound phase she jumped into a line and right out of the gate because I wasn’t riding well enough.

Start at home. Does he respect you on the ground when you lead him away from his friend into the barn?