We have a stallion that is on livery with us and he hates himself!
He has to be rugged at all times otherwise he turns to examine and smell his flanks/genitalia.He then bites himself on the flank, screams because he has "been bitten" and then kicks out behind, irrespective of any obstruction behind him.He still does it when rugged but not as frequently.
It is sad to see him especially as he is not used as a stallion by the owners but is ridden out.He reacts the same when turned out at grass although not to the same extent.
He is 19 years old and other than castrating him , does anyone have any ideas as to how to stop this unfortunate habit? Spraying his flanks with anti-chew products has had no effect.
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 06:07 pm:
Stallions, like all horses are social animals, he needs to be turned out with another horse preferably an "A" mare that is in foal, it will do wonders for him and he will quit his self mutilation. We turn our stallions out together in the off season and they get along very well.
zulu Posted From: 184.108.40.206
Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2004 - 06:07 am:
Prior to coming to our yard a short while ago, this horse was kept in total isolation, no other horse in sight but he was exercised daily. We have found that he is WORSE when he sees other horses as he gets all het up. Your suggestion is ideal on a long term basis but this horse is 19 yrs old, has lived this way all his life and may well be going back to this reigeme in the near future.It may well be just as cruel to give him a taste of normality and then have to send him back to his old lifestyle?
Jos Posted From: 220.127.116.11
Posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2004 - 11:07 am:
If you are in North America, I would encourage you to contact Dr. Sue McDonnell at the University of PA (New Bolton) who is a behaviour specialist with an extended interest in reproduction and stallions. She can be contacted through The Havemeyer Behaviour Lab's web site.
There are some drug therapies, but management changes would be the best starting place, and Dr. McDonnell would be able to help your situation specifically - it might make things worse for people who have not actually got a full picture in front of them to try and assist by making suggestions (even though of course they are attempting to help). Self-mutilation in a stallion can be difficult to manage, and frustrating. The underlying cause is undoubtedly his having been isolated for so long - it is not natural.
While it is tempting to blame any problems a stallion might have on the presence of testicles, it might rather be the case that his reproductive system (which hasn't been partially removed via castration) may not have anything to do with this behavior?
Specifically, the behavior you describe sounds to me like a horse who is responding to an internal pain. Either injury or some internal issue. . . I've had mares who bit their sides when they were having internal problems, and of course this "self mutilation" resolved at once as soon as the pain was addressed.
The first thing I would do is a full veterinary examination of him, followed by review by a well-experienced chiropractor. I've had more than a few stallions come to me with "stallion problems" that had nothing whatsoever to do with testicles. Sound horse management, sadly, still gets thrown by the wayside too often when people are around a stallion. . . it seems at times that folks would treat a stallion with a broken leg by castrating him first and seeing if that helps. ;-/
I'd also, with just your description, wonder about a sheath that was extremely dirty and/or infected. Mares will exhibit similar behavior if their teats are inflamed due to poor care on the part of the owners.
In general, stallions aren't prone to kicking. More often, in daily interactions, they think "up" with their front-end, or stomping with the front feet. With the hind feet, stallions that kick out are usually dealing with pain (or extreme frustration). This is a big reason why I immediately think of a pain issue here, as the behavior itself is not usual for a healthy stallion.
The sad fact is that a large percentage of stallions in North America and Europe are kept in total social isolation all their lives. While this results in many problems, and can certainly directly effect the stallion's physical health (death by colic is all too common in some prison-like stallion barns), it doesn't for me tralslate into the sort of thing you are describing here.
I mention chiropractic, as he might have something badly out in his back or ribs; all too often, I dislocate one of my ribs due to an old injury, and it's an amazingly painful, annoying feeling. . . if I could, I think I'd bite at it myself! Fortunately, I can go to the chiro and get it fixed; a horse can't do that for himself, and if he's got a rib out that's bothering him immensely, it could cause the sort of reaction you are describing.
Sheath certainly sounds like a candidate. There have been a few cases in the UK of horses with fly strike in their sheaths. The ones I've heard of have all been geldings but no reason a stallion might not be affected too - particularly if he hasn't been cleaned regularly. (There seems to be a misconception here that stallions stay clean 'naturally' - well mine sure doesn't!)
My stallion does nip at himself (and his rugs) occasionally - but without actually doing any damage.) He IS very mouthy - he nips at me too, and his lead ropes and anything else that looks chewy. My previous stallion did the same thing.
He is certainly not isolated, going out in the field every day wih mares and foals over the fence.
ponyluvr Posted From: 18.104.22.168
Posted on Monday, November 01, 2004 - 07:17 pm:
My three year old stud did this self mutilation so we had him gelded, he doens't do it anymore, had nothing to do with pain, just very aggressive and had noone to be turned out with, he was next to other mares and they were either pregnant or too young to breed....weanlings, drove him nuts to be anywhere near them, tore blanket and ripped his flanks and leges to pieces, what did help short term was putting a bib on him. But it was hard for him to eat when he did settle to eat. He is a MUCH happier gelding. Good luck.
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