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A Case of Fence Pacing

As featured in Welsh Rider Magazine.

Brandy was a 9 year old Hanoverian mare. Even though it was mid-winter and technically shouldn’t have been coming into season, she was almost constantly fence pacing and “horsing”. Her incessant pacing began soon after turnout; she often squatted and urinated when turning, becoming hysterical when a particular mare was taken in, pacing faster, calling and weaving at the gate. Brandy shunned the other horses.

Brandy’s vet checked her, including her ovaries; she’d been labelled a “moody mare” but female hormones were not to blame. Brandy had lived a sheltered life, with only her mother, and one aged gelding for company before her owner bought her a year ago. In a bigger group, Brandy had panicked and run from the other horses. Then later, stopped running, latched onto a mare like her mum for security, and avoided all others. Over the summer she minded her own business, but as soon as winter stabling started Brandy would not settle in the field and paced to come in and escape the others as they pushed around the gate in the afternoon. She began pacing earlier and earlier as she anticipated the crowded gateway, and was usually brought in first. She began “horsing” because she was just so stressed by her situation. When the other mare came in, she had no companion left that she felt safe with and her stress, and behaviour intensified.

Brandy didn’t feel safe in the field, but stabling her permanently was not advisable - lack of movement and exposure to polluted stable air, even in the most hygenic of stables is not healthy, and too much social stimulation would become too little. Brandy was found a different field and shelter, and an older, retired gelding - just like before. This worked, the gelding could happily stay put while Brandy was ridden.

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