Horse Behaviour & Psychology

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The relationship between hurry and worry - My first horse rushed his jumps. He never refused. I reasoned that he was a “bold” jumper — he loved to jump and so did I! On approach to every fence, my horse’s head would elevate, his ears would perk up, and his legs would speed up. I figured the jumper ring, with its speed element, was a more natural fit for my eager jumper than the hunter ring.

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I work with a large variety of horses and have worked with thousands of horses and riders in the past eight years. This has given me the opportunity to work with some fairly complicated horses. Although more difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible to train, the complicated ones teach us the most and challenge us to work the horse as an individual.

Horse Personality Profiling

When starting to work with a new horse, I am never sure what I’m faced with. In order to make my training time with that particular horse more efficient, I need to know more about his personality. Several factors influence how teachable a horse might be.

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Wild horses possess an instinct to stay vigilant, constantly on guard against potential predators. This innate behaviour remains ingrained even in domesticated horses, causing them to be easily frightened and alert to potential dangers.

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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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What to consider when sending your horse out for training - Along with many people, I've sent my horse away for training with varying results as to its impact. It is common practice, especially at certain stages of training such as starting under saddle, to invest in several months of intensive training at a trainer’s facility. Given that our horse is going to be in someone else’s care for a substantial amount of time, in a new environment, with countless changes, a great level of care must be given to our decision.

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Fitness contributes to far more than aesthetics and performance, making it a constant goalpost for domesticated horses. In terms of health and well-being, it serves a protective role, safeguarding from illness and injury. But how long does a horse need to exercise daily to reap these benefits?

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This issue we will discuss the surprisingly controversial topic of movement. As I consider this subject, an experience from long ago springs to mind. I was invited to ride a dressage horse who was a bodywork client, actively competing in Young Riders and very expensive.

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For generations, riders and horse lovers have been enthralled by the mystique of horsemen (and women), but many struggle to define what a “horseman” actually is. Is a horseman someone with a laundry list of skills such as starting young horses, nailing on shoes, being knowledgeable about horse care, and having the ability to train horses to the highest levels? Or is a horseman someone who lives in the moment, has mastered their emotions, and understands a horse’s mind? Perhaps a horseman embraces all of these attributes; perhaps none.

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As a trainer and clinician I am fortunate to work with a wide variety and a large number of horses. As a result, I see different patterns of equine behaviour emerge.

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