If you want to discourage stall banging, become aware of its association with food. Never deliver food while the horse is banging, or you’ve just reinforced the behavior.

At Via Nova, we use a little mental trick: If the horse bangs the door as we approach with food, we pretend it’s the horse training us. We say to ourselves, “Oh, when you bang, it means you want me to go away!” and we turn and walk away. We don’t go back until the banging stops. The first few times you try this, the banging may get worse as the horse tries harder to make it “work.” This is called an Extinction Burst. Eventually, they’ll realize that banging is no longer the success they thought it was.

But beware, if the horse bangs and you sometimes bring food and sometimes don’t, you’re creating what behavioral science calls an Intermittent Reinforcement Schedule, which is the hardest kind of reinforcement history to extinguish! So be disciplined in how you react to stall banging.