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Why Does My Horse “Box Walk” and What Can I Do To Help?

What is Box Walking?

Box walking is a repetitive behaviour seen in stabled horses, characterised by the horse pacing around the perimeter of its stable. This behaviour typically arises due to boredom, anxiety, frustration, or stress caused by confinement. Horses with strong natural instincts to move and graze can develop this habit when these needs are restricted by their environment. Factors such as lack of social interaction, insufficient exercise, and limited grazing opportunities can exacerbate the issue.

What Problems Can Box Walking Cause?

Box walking can lead to several problems in horses such as:

  • Excessive Hoof Wear: Repetitive pacing can lead to significant wear on the horse’s hooves, increasing the need for frequent hoof care and shoe replacements.​
  • Weight Loss: Constant movement and energy expenditure can make it difficult for the horse to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stomach Ulcers: Box walking can cause the development of gastric ulcers in horses as the stress-induced repetitive behaviour can increase cortisol levels, which in turn can lead to ulcers.
  • Uneven Muscular Development: Box walking often involves moving in a consistent direction, which can lead to the development of asymmetrical muscles. This imbalance can affect the horse’s overall performance.
  • Injuries: Horses may sustain injuries from repetitive movements or from bumping into stable walls and doors as they pace.
  • Behavioural Issues: Box walking can lead to heightened stress and anxiety, exacerbating any bad behaviours.

How to Stop Your Horse From Box Walking

There are many solutions you can try to get your horse to stop box walking, such as:

  • Identify the Cause of Stress: Determine the underlying stressors such as changes in the environment, feeding schedules, or social isolation, and address them to help reduce anxiety and create a calmer lifestyle for your horse.
  • Horse Toys: Boredom can be a main cause of box walking so it is important to keep your horse mentally stimulated. This can be achieved through environmental enrichment such as toys or hanging empty plastic bottles from the ceiling.
  • Get Them Company: Social isolation can lead to excessive box walking, so providing companionship can make a big difference to their quality of life. This can be done by either stabling another horse nearby or installing a mirror in the stable to mimic the presence of another horse.
  • Reduce Stable Time: Increase turnout time to allow your horse more freedom to move and graze naturally.
  • Change Your Stable Door: Install an anti-weaver grille to discourage pacing while providing a sense of freedom with an open view.

Invest in Top-Quality Stables

At Prime Stables, we understand the difference well-designed, high-quality stables can make to your horse’s well-being and happiness. Speak to our experienced team today to get a free consultation.

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