Monday, March 3, 2008

Toilet Training Experiment

At the end of January 2008, I posted Stall Slobs and Stall Slobs Follow-Up, two articles that explored the toileting and stall management habits of horses.

MiKael of MiKael's Mania left the following comment: "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."

I promised her I would give it a try and let her know if it works for my horses. It's been an interesting experiment to say the least. When I first began leaving fresh piles from other horses in the corners of each stall, the horses seemed livid -- especially Lostine and Gabbrielle who are often vying for dominance. When I put the horses together during the day, there seemed to be more bickering, but I wasn't sure if that was related to them being separated throughout winter, then suddenly invading each other's space, or if the horses were actually protesting and saying, "How dare you take a dump in my stall!"

At first I saw a pattern in which they did their business in the opposite corner of the stall from where the other horse's poop sat. It was as if they refused to go near that foreign pile. This was bad for me, because the opposite corner was the corner by the door, so I had to step in it every morning when I got them out of their stalls.

Eventually, they settled down and went back to their usual toileting habits, completely unaffected by that expected foreign pile. I suspect this technique would work better with foals and yearlings, possibly with horses that are new to a barn and looking for guidance. The problem with my horses is that none of them respect each other enough to follow suit. I do want to thank MiKael for the suggestion. I love to get ideas that I had never thought of, and try them out as an experiment, then let everyone know if they worked or not with my horses. This time the experiment failed with my subjects, but may be very successful for someone else.


On The Bit said...

I have heard rumors for years that the only reason that a horse is tidy in there stall is because they had a mom that was also tidy. I don't know if it is true or not (I don't have to worry...My boy is VERY neat and tidy :P). It was worth a try with the manure trick...I feel very lucky every day when I do my horses stall and it only takes a few minutes. If the rumors are true though you will be dealing with messy horses for a long time. Just think of it this least if they are pooping they are not colicing

Twinville said...

It's ironically funny that wrote this post about poop.

One of my sons and I were having a serious discussion about animal poop today. All sorts of things, like different names for it, how people use it, the size, shape, smell and contents of different animal species. I think I will have to write up a post on this subject myself. Strangely enough we found it quite fascinating! haha

It's too bad that most horses won't use a litterbox or communal dung pile, though.

I've been very spoiled for a while with my two llamas. If I want them to poop in a specific spot, all I need to do is spread some of their 'beans' on that spot. It's a sure thing that they will squat over it before too long and make it their own new dung pile.

Looks like I'll be working much harder with the 'apple picker' when our new horse arrives! haha

BarnGoddess said...

My horse, Scooter, is a SLOB. He doesnt care, he will mess wherever and whenever......he has always been like that. Ive had him 22 years, hes 29yo. I doubt he'll change.

Our donkey Freddie, he only goes in one place every single time. I LOVE cleaning his stall! Ive been told he does this because he was a uncut for several years.

good post~ enjoyed reading about your experiment.

photogchic said...

Interesting experiment:-)

Beckz said...

That is an interesting experiment. Especially intersting with the increase in bickering. My horses are very rarely stabled but tend to poop in the same general area in the paddock.

However, I remember of my old horses the geldings tended to poop all over ther show and the mares in the same general area.

Rising Rainbow said...

It's interesting to hear that this didn't work for you. I know my friend swears by it but the she was a breeder and her horses were home grown.

Beth said...

I will tell you that it works with stallions...

My farm owner did it with Sam because he is such a slob too. Took a pile of mare poop and put it where she wanted him to has worked. Seriously.

Too bad it didnt work with your mares.