VETzInsight

Behavior Problems in Horses

October 16, 2006 (published)

Many horses that are stabled or stalled for extended periods will develop some behavior problems including weaving, stall walking, and cribbing. These behaviors were reviewed at last year's AAEP convention and we are going to review these behavior problems over the next couple of programs. Some of these behaviors can actually be considered as an unsoundness and can have an effect on the horse's sale value. Weaving is a condition in which the horse weaves back and forth usually at the front of a stall with his head out over the top rail of the pen or stall. It is not known why this occurs, but it has been shown that weaving occurs less frequently in horse facilities that have more than 75 horses and the horses are fed forage other than hay such as silage. Also, the more forage that was fed, the less that weaving occurred. Less weaving also occurred when the stalls had other living things to attract the horse's attention, such as birds flying in the barn or even insects. For some reason, horses stalled on straw weaved less than on other types of bedding, although I am always concerned about straw bedding as I have seen horses colic on straw.

Installing mirrors in the stalls helped to simulate social contact and decreased weaving almost immediately in some cases. Most of these factors to decrease weaving help to break up the boredom in the stall and keep the horse's mind working. Box walking is a similar behavior as weaving but involves the horse continually circling the stall. However, the same methods for treatment with weaving may help with box walking. Join us next time when I will further discuss treatments for behavior problems in horses.


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