How to Stop Horse Pacing Fence Line

Not only can it cause damage to the fence and put the horse at risk of injury, but it may also indicate underlying stress or boredom. Thankfully, there are effective strategies to break or prevent this habit. One of the simplest solutions is to increase your horse's turnout time, allowing them more opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation. Additionally, providing a toy or object that captures your horse's attention can redirect their focus away from pacing. Another effective approach is to pair the horse with a companion, whether it be another horse or a compatible species, as social interaction can greatly reduce anxiety and boredom. Lastly, ensure that your horse has a job or purpose, such as regular training sessions or participation in specific activities, to keep their mind engaged. However, if the pacing is driven by fear or stress, identifying and eliminating the stressor is paramount to resolving the issue. By implementing these strategies and understanding the underlying reasons behind your horse's pacing behavior, you can help them find comfort and contentment within their environment.

Why Do Horses Pace Up and Down?

Horses, like humans, have their own ways of expressing anxiety and stress. One behavior commonly seen in horses is pacing. This repetitive and restless action occurs when a horse nervously walks or runs back and forth along a fence line, gate, or stall door.

Pacing typically originates from boredom, stress, or anxiety.

By allowing your horse to interact with their herd, either directly or visually, you can encourage a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.

Regular veterinary check-ups and examinations can help ensure that your horse isn’t experiencing any health issues that may be causing them distress.

Understanding why horses pace up and down is crucial in finding ways to address and eliminate this behavior.

Common Triggers for Pacing in Horses

Common triggers for pacing in horses include boredom, stress, lack of social interaction, confinement, and inadequate exercise. Horses are social animals that thrive on companionship and need mental and physical stimulation to prevent pacing behavior. Making sure horses have access to pasture or a suitable turnout area, providing companionship, offering regular exercise and training, and creating an environment with plenty of mental enrichment can help alleviate pacing along fence lines. It’s important to identify and address the underlying cause of pacing to ensure the horse’s well-being.

Identifying the root cause of a horse’s pacing behavior is crucial in order to effectively address and manage the issue. There are multiple factors that can contribute to a horse pacing, ranging from medical conditions to environmental and genetic influences. By understanding these underlying causes, horse owners and caretakers can implement appropriate measures to alleviate the pacing and promote the well-being of the animal.

What Causes a Horse to Pace?

In order to stop horse pacing along the fence line, it’s crucial to first understand what causes a horse to pace in the first place.

One common reason for a horse to pace is pain or discomfort. It’s important to carefully examine the horse for any signs of injury or medical conditions that may be causing the pain.

Another factor that can contribute to pacing behavior is the horses environment. Providing ample turnout time and ensuring a comfortable living space can help alleviate this issue.

Herd dynamics can also play a role in pacing behavior. Horses are social animals and need regular interaction with other equines. If a horse is separated from it’s herd or lacks social interaction, it may resort to pacing as a way to cope with the stress of isolation. Introducing the horse to a compatible herd or providing regular socialization opportunities can help alleviate this issue.

Genetics and breed predispositions can also contribute to pacing behavior.

Strategies and Techniques for Preventing or Addressing Pacing Behavior in Horses.

  • Providing regular exercise and turnout for horses to release excess energy.
  • Ensuring a well-balanced diet to support overall health and reduce stress.
  • Implementing a consistent and structured training program to establish routines and promote relaxation.
  • Using positive reinforcement techniques to reward calm and relaxed behavior.
  • Addressing any physical discomfort or pain through regular veterinary care and proper saddle fit.
  • Utilizing enrichment activities, such as interactive toys or pasture buddies, to mentally stimulate horses.
  • Creating a calm and stress-free environment in the stable, including minimizing loud noises and excessive commotion.
  • Working with an experienced trainer or equine behavior specialist to identify and address underlying issues causing pacing behavior.
  • Ensuring horses have access to a suitable living environment with ample space for movement.
  • Monitoring and responding to pacing behavior promptly to prevent the development of a learned or habitual response.

This distinctive gait, known as pacing, is a common sight in the world of Standardbred harness racing. With it’s fast-paced and synchronized footfall pattern, the pace sets these horses apart as they showcase their strength and speed in this dynamic two-beat lateral gait.

What Is Pacing Horse Gait?

Pacing is a unique gait exhibited by certain horses, most notably the Standardbred harness racing horses. This fast two-beat lateral gait is characterized by the simultaneous striking of the feet on the same side of the body. The footfall pattern of the pace involves the right hind and right front landing on the ground together, followed by the left hind and left front in unison.

While pacing can showcase speed and athleticism, it can also become problematic when horses start pacing along the fence line. This behavior is commonly seen in horses that are confined to small spaces or have limited turnout time.

Moreover, implementing a regular exercise routine for the horse can be highly beneficial. Activities such as lunging, riding, or engaging in groundwork exercises can help channel the horses energy in a productive and positive manner. By expending excess energy through exercise, the horse may be less inclined to pace along the fence line.

Another approach to curbing pacing behavior is to introduce environmental enrichments. These can include toys, hanging balls, or other engaging objects within the horses living space. These items encourage mental stimulation and diversion, reducing boredom and the likelihood of pacing.

Furthermore, evaluating the horses diet and nutrition can prove advantageous. Horses that lack essential nutrients or have imbalances in their diet may exhibit behavioral issues, including pacing. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can help determine if dietary adjustments are needed.

In some cases, seeking the guidance of a professional trainer or behaviorist may be the most effective solution. These experts can assess the underlying causes of pacing and develop a personalized training plan to address the issue.

One effective way to fix a pacing horse is by incorporating work at the canter. Canter, also known as lope, is a type of slow, relaxed canter commonly seen in western horses. By working at the canter, the horse learns to break up lateral gaits and develop a more balanced and rhythmic stride. One approach is to start by going uphill, cantering the horse to the top, and then bringing them down to a walk before their gait deteriorates into a pace.

How Do You Fix a Pacing Horse?

Pacing is a common issue among horses, and it can be frustrating for both the horse and the rider. One effective way to address this problem is by working on the canter. Canter, also known as lope in the western riding, is a slow and relaxed gait that allows the horse to break up lateral movements.

When you work your horse at the canter, it helps him understand how to coordinate his movements and break away from the pacing pattern. This is because during the canter, one set of diagonals works together, while the opposite set moves in opposition to one another. This encourages your horse to engage different muscle groups and develop a more balanced way of moving.

To start addressing the pacing issue, consider working your horse uphill. Canter him up the slope and then bring him down to a walk before his gait starts degrading into a pace. This exercise helps the horse to engage his hind end and develop more impulsion, which can be crucial in correcting pacing tendencies. The incline also encourages the horse to use his body correctly and build strength in the right areas.

In addition to working uphill, it’s important to focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm and tempo during the canter. A steady canter with a balanced and relaxed frame can help the horse find his natural rhythm and release tension. Be sure to maintain proper form and avoid leaning forward or pulling on the reins, as this can interfere with the horses balance and impede progress.

Source: Stop Your Horse’s Pacing – Horse and Rider


In conclusion, the issue of horse pacing along the fence line can be effectively addressed by implementing a few simple strategies. Pairing them next to a companion can provide comfort and alleviate any feelings of isolation or anxiety. Additionally, giving your horse a job or purpose, such as regular exercise or training sessions, can help channel their energy in a productive manner. Remember, every horse is unique, so it may take some patience and trial and error to find the right approach for your equine companion.

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