Horse Behaviour & Psychology

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If a dog is man’s best friend, then the horse is his most loyal servant. – Joseph V. DiBianca, Loudly They Speak: The Memoirs of a Horse Listener - What is it that makes the vast majority of horse people love dogs? Dogs indeed possess some of the same admirable traits as horses and complement the lifestyle of a horse person very well.

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Another beautiful conversation with Kerri Lake, as we get right into some incredibly rich territory around re-framing our learning process (and supporting our horses through this shift), what surrender really means, learning to love the boring and mundane, and the gifts in taking things slow and easy for ourselves and our horses. As always, so many potent nuggets of wisdom come through Kerri in this chat.

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A Guide to Getting Jack Into the Box - The most common transport-related injuries to horses are from failure to adequately and properly train the horse to load and haul. It’s solely a matter of investing the time and having the willingness to teach the horse in the way he can best learn and accept the concept. Think about the second half of that statement for a moment; as with any form of teaching, if method A isn’t working, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet!

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The morning grass is glittering with light. Moisture drops in crystals from bushes and trembles in the trees. The air is still and cool. After an early lesson, I invite my dressage coach in for coffee and pull my riding boots. He removes his shoes and stands looking out the window. “Are those both stallions?” he asks.

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Create a Paddock Paradise - About 15 years ago, I was boarding my mare, Diva, at a private barn in Victoria, BC. The paddocks were very small and flat, with electric fence covering all the boards to prevent chewing, and Diva was on the end of the paddock row beside a forest. It was close to home, which worked for me, but Diva was deeply stressed, making it almost impossible to safely work with her or ride her.

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Satisfying the horse-specific needs of stallions is imperative for their mental and physical health. However, it can be challenging to provide living arrangements where stallions aren’t just surviving — but thriving. Kelly Brook Allen is one stallion owner who is adamant about her horse’s welfare. “He gets to live a normal life,” she says. Allen owns Canoa Farms in Merritt, British Columbia with her husband, Ron Stolp.

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A hot humid day. One rider. One horse. Both are exercising at a moderate level. Who is more likely to overheat? It might surprise you to learn that your horse gets hotter much faster than you and is more susceptible to the negative effects of heat stress. Prof. Michael Lindinger, an animal and exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph, explains: “It only takes 17 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in hot, humid weather to raise a horse’s temperature to dangerous levels. That’s three to ten times faster than in humans. Horses feel the heat much worse than we do.”

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Podcast host Alexa Linton and Shannon Beahen of Humminghorse Equestrian chatted about everything from getting more nuanced about the “no,” to meditation and its role in our clarity, to incorporating consent into training, to track systems, and even got into numerology a little!

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One of the biggest sources of tension is anxiety, or more specifically, the horse’s inability to deal with anxiety. Anxiety is a sincere emotion and I know many, many horses that are often overwhelmed by it. Anxiety can stem from a variety of places but where it comes from is less important than helping the horse deal with it.

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My parents didn’t have a lot of money for my riding lessons, and I know they must have scrimped and saved for my one-hour sessions. Those lessons were the highlight of my week and they held great power over me to stay out of trouble — with one strike I could hear the parental words that put fear into every kid: “Behave or you will be grounded…” and they always finished the sentence with “…and that means NO RIDING.” I behaved.

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