Tips For Managing Equine Stress During Training & Management
Horses are Social Mammals
* Understand your horse’s personality.
- Find out their life history before they came to you.
- Watch your horses in a herd environment or even relate to their stable friends.
Horses Form Strong Social Bonds
- Separation anxiety may be the number one reason why horses get ulcers starting when they are weaned and then continually being separated from their friends.
- Provide them with social time as often as possible. If you need to turn them out alone, make sure they can see and smell other horses or have a friend.
Horses Have Evolved to Move All Day.
- Provide as much space as possible for exercise with turn out time for rolling.
- Hoof movement relates to proper digestion.
Horses are Herbivores and Forage for Food All Day.
- Limit concentrated feeds.
- Provide free choice feed and minerals as much as possible.
- Meet nutritional needs by feeding properly absorbed nutrients.
Smell/Taste Senses Occupy a Large Part of the Brain
- Take something that smells “safe” and familiar, like friends and home when shipping, at new barns, or to shows.
- A brush used on your horse’s friend or a little manure from the stable can make a world of difference for your horse.
- Provide stimulation by keeping your horse in an area/stall that they can see out of. and feel like they are part of activity around them.
- If horses are alone;; enhance their habitat by adding various smells through essential oils, provide visual objects for them to play with and music to soothe or stimulate them.
Horses Need Play Time
- As social expressive creatures, horses learn faster when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves. Constant training requiring mental concentration can cause ulcers in horses..
- Mix training routines up with relaxed fun exercises and movements.
Horses are Sensitive with Highly Evolved Senses
* Equine hearing and sense of smell are much better than humans.
- Limit negative noises & smells. They have hyper hearing capabilities.
- Horses worry, they become reactive when they do not see what they are smelling hearing, or cannot comprehend the association.
Horses Need to Feel Safe
- Build confidence in your horse through positive associations and reinforcements with you will create “safe space” wherever you go as well as cooperation.
- Horses try and communicate when they hurt
- Horses show fear & pain through resistance
- Horses think like horses, not humans
Horses Need Touch
* Daily grooming is critical for good body awareness and circulation.
* Nose bumps are important to build emotional security and social bonding.
Horses Learn Best When Relaxed
- Determine whether your horse is an “individual learner” or a ‘group learner”.
- Often young or insecure horses feel safer with another horse near them and thus learn faster.
- As social beings, horses are influenced by other horses’ and people’s emotions.
- Introduce your horse to new or potentially scarey things on the ground with you to build confidence in your relationship. It will transfer when you are riding.
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© Mary Ann Simonds