Horse Behaviour & Psychology

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Tension in horses can lead to all kinds of problems and hinder their ability to learn. Some horses are so tense and stiff that they are incapable of certain maneuvers. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, which in turn leads to increased tension.

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There is always a reason when things go wrong, and we have to accept at least half of the responsibility. Remember it is we who are asking for certain acceptable behaviour; if we have not defined what is actually acceptable then the horse is right to be wrong.

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The conversation surrounding needs is interesting and complex in terms of our non-speaking horses, especially within a culture that has a historically tricky relationship with the expression of needs. For the purpose of this article, let’s define a need as either a base need required for survival, namely food, water, shelter, and movement, or a need required to thrive, such as friends, space, play, touch, connection, purpose, praise/affirmation, supplementation, and interesting activities. When it comes to our relationship with our horse, the combination of the perceived needs of the rider and the potential needs of their horse can be a space of connecting growth or disconnecting frustration, depending on our perspective and openness to collaborative solutions.

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Fall fairs, circuit championships, and club awards banquets signal the end of another horse show season. So how did it go? Did your shows, rodeos, or competitive trail rides meet your expectations? For the majority of horse owners, the answer to this question will likely be no. Stuff happens. And so we look toward the next year. But with chilly fall and winter weather looming, we all need some goals to motivate us to get off the couch and out to the arena on those cold nights!

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Every equestrian knows the magic of our unique bond with our horses. It is a relationship that sits at the centre of our lives, supporting us and challenging us in equal measure. Every minute spent with our horses has a big impact on our well-being, which is an individual’s personal experience of good mental health and satisfaction with life. Research now supports what horsey folks have known for years: spending time with horses is good for us, so much so that horses are increasingly being used as a source of therapy. Studies have demonstrated that time spent interacting with horses increases positive emotions, decreasing depression and increasing social connection skills in children and adults alike.

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You are who your friends are. That adage can apply to horses, too. How we treat them will often be reflected right back at us - for good or bad. Sometimes the difference between a harsh cue and an appropriate one can be subtle. Pressure can be effective, but intensity and timing can make all the difference.

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From The Horse's Perspective - Until recently, no major studies had been conducted about the effect of travel on horses. The best advice most folks could hope for was to glean some pearls of wisdom from the ocean of opinions and tales of other road warriors.

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