Training Tips: Understanding Horses

Understanding Horses:

Tips For Managing Equine Stress During Training & Management

Horse Friends, equine behavior, horse psychology, horses scratching

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

Horse friends at a horse show

  • 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.

Polo ponies exercising as as herd

  • Provide as much space as possible for exercise with turn out time for rolling.
  • Hoof movement relates to proper digestion.

Horse rolling during turnout, natural behavior

  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.

Horse freinds, grazing  together

   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.

   Horses are Curious & Like to Be a Part of their Surroundings. Foal and puppy curious, interspecies play

  • 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

Horse, human interaction, building confidence, safety in hoses

  • 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

equine grooming and touch, friendship

*    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

Intoducing new objects on the ground, horse learning, training

  • 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