Horse Behaviour & Psychology

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My horse is great in the arena, but easily distracted as soon as we go out of the ring. He’s good when he’s by himself, but when there are other horses around, my horse’s mind is not with me. My horse is fine when his herd-mate is nearby, but as soon as we try to separate he loses his mind! Sometimes he’s with me… and other times it’s like I’m not even there. If you can relate to any of these statements, the tips in this article will help you understand your horse – the ultimate tourist – and how to get his attention.

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We’ve all had a horse that was hesitant to go forward with ease and willingness. I want to share the story of one such colt I started recently, and some of the strategies I employed to help him “free up.” These techniques work well for horses of all ages. This article is ultimately about rider self-awareness, timing, and avoiding the overuse of pressure, which unintentionally dulls the horse. Take special note of the tips for success, and the pitfalls many riders face when their horse is dull to their aids.

Stallions have often been considered difficult or dangerous, but now it seems that mares are being tarred with the same brush. A study into riders’ perceptions of horse temperament and suitability for ridden work, based on horse sex, found that mares are also seen as “bossy” or “unreliable.” The research, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, has found horse riders are applying human gender stereotypes to horses - a form of anthropomorphism - which could lead them to overlook the merits of mares and fillies.

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The colours deployed on hurdles and fences on British racecourses may be set to change following research led by the University of Exeter into the way that horses perceive colour. The research, commissioned in 2017 by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Racing Foundation, was undertaken by Dr. Sarah Paul and Professor Martin Stevens of the University of Exeter with the aim of improving obstacle visibility for horses, thus reducing the risk of falls and injuries for horses and jockeys.

In last issue’s article, A Foal’s Safe Trip Home, the challenge was to get my colt from Innisfail, Alberta to Abbotsford, BC as safely and stress-free as possible. At the time he didn’t lead and had never been in a trailer, and he was weaned the moment we left the property. Under these circumstances, I was concerned that the experience would be a lot for him to take in.

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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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If you spend enough time around horses, before long you’re likely to encounter an injury. Some folks joke that they could bubble-wrap their horses and put them into a round room, and they’d still figure out a way to hurt themselves. Like humans, there are some horses that cruise through life without a single incident, while others just seem prone to elevate our stress level, and diminish our cash level, with frequent new and interesting injuries.

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