Keep reading and learn how to spot horse anxiety and how to help your horse if they have it.
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One key factor about owning a horse is to make sure your horse is comfortable with you. If your horse is constantly checking his abdomen or suddenly gets startled and slows down like it has been attacked, then you need to have some quick solutions. Don’t get stressed, just keep on reading.
Why Do Horses Get Anxious?
Like a human being, horses need to be treated with patience and kindness as they can get very anxious; the most common ones being performance anxiety. We need to think like a horse to truly understand one.
The Herd Mentality
Like most herd animals, horses look for comradeship. Herd animals are usually led by an alpha male who provides them with a sense of safety. This mentality is due to the fact that when you are in a herd, the possibility of you being chosen during an attack is very unlikely.
Therefore a lone horse will lack that sense of security.
Human Needs VS Natural Instincts
In their natural environment, horses travel in herds and have to spend their day grazing for grass, looking for food. However, in the human realm, they are confined in a 12”12 stall.
When we feed horses in our own time, we actually hamper their sensitive digestive system.
Taking Horses to Compete
Horses can get anxiety when you try to train them for competitions and when they are introduced to loud music and overwhelming crowds in a new environment.
Symptoms of Horse Anxiety
If your horse is going through a sense of anxiety, he will show certain signs of stress that are quite visible. If you see these signs make sure to get in touch with a vet.
Weaving and Stalling
If your horse is walking back and forth across a stall or kicking walls and walking in a zig-zag pattern, your horse is probably stressed out and needs to be comforted.
This is an eye-striking sign of stress. If your horse starts losing weight out of the blue, then you definitely need to consult a vet.
Trembling or Shaking and Yawning
Horses tend to twitch while standing or even tremble while riding. If your horse is yawning several times a day, then it is most likely releasing some endorphins (reducing stress). The equine ulcer can also cause these symptoms.
When you are riding your horse, it may suddenly get startled and start bolting towards his stable, while you are still holding the leash. Horses can easily get spooked by many objects like plastic bags and shiny materials.
Under stressful situations, horses can show physical and physiological symptoms of stress by grinding their teeth either while riding or while simply standing.
Change in Behavior
Your horse can start behaving poorly by waging his/her tail, biting, kicking or even being cold to respond.
What Should You Do to Reduce Your Horses Anxiety?
The first and most important product that you need is a horse calmer. You need to add these to your horse’s dietary supplements and it will work wonders. Other solutions may include:
Keeping Them in Their Habitat
Separation and change can cause severe anxiety in horses. You need to allow your horse to roam freely and look for food as much as you can. Horses often relieve stress if they are allowed to follow their natural course. They will feel less anxious in their own ecological niche.
Good Basic Care
Always provide your horse with good care. Give them time to get adjusted to new environments such as herds and stalls. Allow them more turnouts. If you are traveling with your horse, try and make the ride less bumpy and most important, be a good companion to your horse.
Have a Proper Routine
We humans always need to have a proper daily schedule to feel better and organized and it’s the same with horses. If your horse follows a routine, it will automatically feel better.
Get a Trainer
In many cases, you will not know how to handle your horse, and that’s why expert advice and help is crucial. A trainer can identify the non-verbal cue you are giving your horse, which may strike up their anxiety.
Check Your Saddle
Your horse may be in pain, triggered by your weight on the saddle, poking into his skin. Pain induced irritation is a big factor in terms of anxiety and that’s why it is important to change your tracks and check the saddle regularly to provide that little bit of comfort to your horse. If you notice a swelling along the edges of your horse’s spine, it may be because of poor saddle fit. You may try using a western saddle so that your horse can carry the load in relative comfort over long periods of time.
Punishment and Reward
If your horse wins you a competition or even performs well during training, always bestow him/her with rewards. Do not ever attempt to give any form of punishment as that will induce social and performance anxiety.
Remember your horse is your friend, not your slave!
Have a Friend Ride Along
Horses that have separation anxiety may feel better to be in the company of another horse. It’s beneficial for both you and your horse because now you both can ride with friends (also the horse will not feel bored and lonely).
You Can Now Provide All The Help Your Horse Needs
Don’t be afraid if your otherwise calm horse suddenly starts behaving in an outlandish manner. Now that you have all the necessary information, you can be the helping hand your horse needs.
With the right steps in place, your horse will be good in no time. Just do not overdo any sedatives or supplements that you use. Don’t just focus on your enjoyment, take care of your horse’s needs too.
Keep your horse healthy and happy!
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