Written by Pernille Elmsdal from Natural Horsemanship. Edited by the editorial team.
Have you ever thought about how the term “stable pig” has affected us? In reality, it is just one of many words and phrases that people use to shift the blame onto the horse when something does not work optimally according to our perception. We want things to be easy and cheap, and we also have an idea about cleanliness and decency, which horses do not share.
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If one, for example, has a horse that, during the night, scatters its entire base in the box, drags the hay along, and leaves horse droppings everywhere, it does not suit us well, and here, some people resort to calling their horse a stable pig. It is partly avoidance of responsibility, labeling the horse as guilty, and it also signals distancing and contempt, which do not harmonize very well with the devotion people usually have for their horse.
“Stable pig” is just one of many things people can say to and about their horses to vent their frustration that something is not going according to their plan. But it solves nothing, and to stay with the above example, it would be more interesting to find out why the horse is restless and investigate whether it can be solved. Some horses generally have a problem with being in a box; others are just energetic horses that quickly get bored. Horses like them possibly thrive better in open stabling.
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Other horses miss the herd or a specific other horse. One could perhaps try to place them closer together, and some have it with their box, like with a certain corner on the riding track, and find it to be a disturbing place. One could either move them or train them to accept the box. Finally, one can also have some considerations about the size and arrangement of the box and more.
Doing so is to take responsibility for one’s horse and its well-being, for it is certainly not the horse that has chosen its conditions. It is us who have chosen it, bought it, and placed it in the conditions it has to live under. By nature, the horse’s system is designed to live in the herd on the vast plains, where it spends most of the hours of the day moving around in search of good grass. Such a life can only be offered to our horses by a few, and it is also important to remember that all horses are different. It is just important that we acknowledge and take responsibility for finding the solutions – not the horse.