Part of a good training routine, is to ensure that the horse is as relaxed and settled with his surroundings as possible.
- The right turnout buddy, if he is to have one.
- A friendly neighbor in the next door stall or paddock.
- A stall where the horse is comfortable and calm.
- A daily routine that is busy enough (or quiet enough) to suit his temperament.
I find these are incredibly powerful influences on whether or not a horse will be calm and responsive when I want to work with him. I will put anxious or aggressive horses at a quiet end of the barn that gets less traffic and I try to make sure that each horse gets along with the horse next door, all that ear pinning has got to be stressful.
When he first came to the barn, Solo had a tendency to scream for his friends and got very upset and very vocal if he was left anywhere on his own for a few minutes. Originally, I gave him a big stall in the new section of the barn. The stalls are huge and I thought it would be nice for him to have a bit of room to move around and lie down. He had a large window at the back of his stall and a half door to the inside walkway. He spent his whole time straining to see into everyone else’s stall by craning his neck out into the passageway. Every time a horse moved in or out it’s stall, he would bellow his demands and instructions at the top of his very excited vocal chords.
Finally, after two days of this, I tried him in a smaller stall at the other end of the barn where there are bars between the upper half of the stalls instead of boards. Peace, perfect peace. By the end of an hour it was obvious that he had chosen his stall, thank you very much! From his new stall he will watch quietly while ALL the horses go out, in fact he will have a nice nap in the ensuing peace and quiet. Finding him the right ‘house’ seems to have made all the difference in the world.
I never cease to be amazed by all the little personality quirks that horses portray.