If your horse paces at his gate or field boundary after being turned out what does it mean and how can you help him enjoy his turnout time? Specialist trainer Michael Peace explains how to get your horse to settle.
Firstly, it can depend if your horse has the company of other horses he feels bonded with.
If the pacing is because he’s turned out on his own, he may be suffering from separation anxiety, and this can be a tricky problem to solve.
While you can systematically desensitise a horse and lessen the anxiety, the fact remains that this behaviour is perfectly normal.
In the wild, being singled out of the herd would mean almost certain death, so it’s natural for all horses to fear being on their own.
If your horse is turned out with others, and the pacing up and down occurs when his favourite fieldmate disappears for a short time, there are steps you can take to help wean the two horses off each other a little.
Ask the other horse’s owner to take their horse out of the field. Ask them to lead him away for a few seconds, give him a rub on the neck and let him have time to think, and then go back.
As both horses get used to this routine, gradually extend the time they are apart. Eventually you’ll be able to build up both horses’ tolerance to the point where they will be able to cope with not seeing each other for short periods of time.
If your horse lives alone, consider moving him to a yard where he can live with company, or at least to a paddock where he can see others in an adjacent field.
It’s also important that your horse has enough space, shelter and food to keep him occupied while he’s turned out.
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