Mental problems

Weaving in horses

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Weaving in horses

See files for Horses

Weaving is a behaviour that often horse owners or caregivers are unaware their animal possesses. These cases come to us due to other conditions or diseases that are a result of the famous sidewards swaying. It is one of the most common vices amongst horses in a stable or box.

At AnimalWised we want to tell you about weaving in horses, what it is and how to prevent it; so that you do not hesitate when identifying this problem and know what the possible solutions are for your horse to be as healthy and happy as possible.

You may also be interested in: Anxiety in Cats
  1. What is weaving?
  2. Origin of weaving in horses
  3. How to prevent weaving in horses?

What is weaving?

This is a stereotyped or involuntary repetitive movement including a rolling head, possibly including the neck and front legs, and in the most advanced cases we can see that the hind legs are also involved. sually the horse will do this standing right at the stable door.

Weaving is one of the most common vices in stable horses, but it is not always considered the root of muscle problems due to the constant rocking. Often in daily life we go too fast and we do not question those who are in contact with the animal as well as we should. Horses, much like humans, have the urge to walk and socialize, and weaving can commence due to their restlessness. In cases of sporting animals, their owner may see them so rarely that they are completely unaware of them doing this. As veterinarians, we should complete our clinical investigation with those who have most daily contact with the horse, so we can minimize mistakes and not overlook ethological behaviors or conducts that may be the source of the problem.

Weaving in horses - What is weaving?

Origin of weaving in horses

Its origin is basically social, but we have to consider several sub-types that will give us the key to try and eradicate weaving in our horse.

It is normally associated with very nervous horses who spend many hours in their box or stable and get bored. As they only get out for 20 minutes a day and then return to their little shelter, their frustration builds, leading to the development of these tics. It can also be due to over stimulation in places where maybe the music is on for 18 hours a day and at a high volume, a situation that would affect anyone.

We must also consider that it may involve horses who were changed from one stable or farm to another, and this is where the problem started. There may be cases of animals that were previously accompanied but now, because of age or other reasons, we may be thinking about retiring them to a place that is quieter than a riding club, thinking of their own welfare. Some horses poorly endure being alone and no matter how much we try to give them the best we can and ensure they have proper care, they may feel stressed or anxious with habitat changes and as a result we will see this or other stereotypical behaviors. These changes are directly related to an ancestral behavior in the herd. Consider that some horses are very sensitive.

How to prevent weaving in horses?

Stereotypical behaviors in horses, once a long time has passed, are very difficult to remove. But if we detect these prematurely, we must act quickly because the consequences can be worse. They are as follows:

  • Energy expenditure
  • Weight loss
  • uneven wear of hoofs
  • asymmetrical development of neck muscles and hands
  • joint overload

Next we list some solutions for weaving in horses (collecting my own experiences as well as those of other colleagues):

  • Add a sheep to the stable: it may seem ridiculous but they get along very well and entertain each other and in many horse riding schools this is the best solution.
  • Change of box, stables, paddock or club: I am aware that sometimes this is not possible but perhaps increasing the hours in an outdoor paddock will achieve the same effect of relief.
  • Increase the hours of walking and / or games with toys like giant balls.
  • Basic homoeopathy, so it is happier with the changes it must go through. The goal is not to cover up the problem but rather to improve its quality of life.

When we find weaving in horses we will always ask the veterinarian or ethologist which will be the best solution for our horse, as they will give us their professional opinion and with the added value that they already know the horse.

Weaving in horses - How to prevent weaving in horses?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Weaving in horses, we recommend you visit our Mental problems category.

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Weaving in horses