Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stall Slobs Follow-Up

Thanks to everyone who provided input on my question in my previous post Stall Slobs as to whether there is a correlation between a horse's gender and cleanliness. It's been a busy week for me, so blogging has slogged down to mere thoughts, but nothing on paper... until now.

To summarize the comments, it sounds like there are many more factors involved in determining the cleanliness of a horse than just gender. Though many people have known mares who have been slobs, we also have to consider the horse's personality and what it learned in those early months from its mother. I have had the opportunity to occasionally visit and care for my mare's daughters and granddaughters, and they are all very sloppy in their stalls. My mare never had any colts, so I can't speak for them. I did clean the stall of my gelding's mother, and she too was one who played soccer with her poop. My gelding just happens to have an aversion to manure that is so great that if I don't clean up our riding area before mounting him, he will either leap over the manure or veer suddenly around it as I ride him. This behavior (and his jump-to-the-side spooking) take credit for me learning how to be a more balanced rider.

A part of me was suspicious that a mare's messiness was her way of marking her territory. Though herds in the wild have one stallion and a band of mares, it is really the higher ranking mares who are in charge of the herd. Within my herd, Lostine is the alpha-mare. Though she is shorter than the other horses, she's tough and never backs down. Gabbrielle has challenged Lostine on many occasions, and Lostine always manages to maintain her ranking. If I leave another horse's stall door open, Lostine will march right into it and leave a puddle with her scent right smack in the middle of the stall floor. On the other hand, I can leave my gelding in the barn area with all the stall doors open, and he stays out of them. I have seen Gabbrielle express her disgust after a fight with Lostine by intentionally leaving a pile of manure right under the window of Lostine's stall. Lostine reacts to this by pinning her ears back and taking nips at her.

Though my mares are messy, I know they appreciate having their stalls cleaned. Rarely, but on occasion, I have to usher the horses back into their stalls before I have had the chance to clean them. Lostine balks at her stall door when I attempt to lead her or herd her into a dirty stall. She gives me this look of horror, and I have to assure her that I will clean it soon before she'll step inside. When I clean the paddock, the horses try to help by pointing out piles with their noses and grabbing the wheelbarrow with their teeth in an attempt to push or pull it toward the next mess. So, even though my mares may have made their messes messier, they definitely prefer cleanliness in the end. (Pun intended.)


Rising Rainbow said...

I have a friend who said she could train her horses to just go in one spot by placing a fresh scoop of poop from another horse in the corner she wanted them to use.

She claimed it could take up to a month, using fresh poop each day, but she could get them trained to be tidy. I can't tell you if it works, I've never had enough time or patience for that with this many horses.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'll go ahead and give it a try and let you know if it works for me. My messiest mare is 20 years old, so I don't know if I'll be able to teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks for the tip.

P.S. I was just laughing because I saw that one of the Google ads that showed up on my site is "Bathroom Ideas." I better be more careful in choosing my topics.