My horse is eight years old, and I am the only one who has ever owned him. He has brilliant manners and we are best friends, but when he sees the veteven if the vet has come to treat other horses in the yardhe completely freaks out.
He backs up into his stable, and if the vet tries to approach him, he uses his weight to get past people and runs away! He is a 16-hand Shire cross, so you can imagine the weight and strength he has. It has now become impossible to vaccinate him or treat him when he needs it. What should I do? Is there a reason he is so scared of vets?
Stephanie, it sounds like your horse has made the association between the vet and something unpleasant happening. This is not all that uncommon. You can help him work past the issue, but it will take some patienceand a lot of positive reinforcement.
Essentially, you want to teach him first to stand still using a target, and then to do that behavior in lots of different situationsfrom you patting him to eventually the vet approaching him. By having him touch a target for a food reward (for example, keep his nose on the rim of a bucket, or even your fist), he can concentrate on a concrete behavior, and you will be able to slowly increase the level of stimuli he needs to hold still for.
Try to observe the cues that set the behavior off. Is it the vet’s truck? Does the vet wear a lab coat or uniform? These are things you can desensitize your horse to during your training process. Good luck!