Stall Walking

Q. I just bought a 3-year-old mare only to find out she has a bad stall habit: stall walking. Is there a fix for stall walkers?

Larry, Frankfort, Ky.

A. Relieving the stress that provokes horses to stall walk can resolve this problem in many horses. If you can find an equine behavior specialist to evaluate the situation, you might determine what you need to do to help your filly. Here are some generic suggestions to try:

  • Place hay at several positions around the perimeter of her stall;
  • Feed no grain or as little grain as possible; and
  • Experiment with housing your filly in various locations within the barn and near different neighbors. For some horses, being able to see other horses helps. In other cases a quieter, out-of-view area of the barn seems to help. So a bit of a trial and error with various locations, along with a pedometer to keep track of the horse's total footsteps, will help you identify the best location and combination of neighbors.

If you can videotape the horse for a couple 24-hour cycles, you can often learn a lot about what sets off the walking episodes. Sometimes the horse walks only when people are in the barn or only for a few minutes before feeding time. That information is often very helpful.


About the Author

Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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