Horse Behaviour & Psychology

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Whip use in equestrian sports is currently a highly debated topic across the industry. Two presenters, Jane Williams and Kirstin Spencer, at the 15th Annual International Equitation Science Conference held at the University of Guelph, Ontario, shared insight on whip use and its perception in riding sports. Previous research has focused mainly on whip usage in the racing industry; however, it is necessary to evaluate all disciplines in order to effectively address whip usage concerns and any welfare issues.

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Horses are commonly housed in individual boxes. While this may be convenient and prevent injuries from other horses, it may also be detrimental to the horse’s welfare, especially if access to pasture is limited. A paper by Alice Ruet and colleagues investigated the effect of various management practices on the display of behavioural indicators of compromised welfare in housed horses.

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Equine behavioural and physiological responses to rider weight increases - New research should help shed more light on how increased rider weight may affect a horse during exercise under saddle, looking at lower rider:horse weight ratios, which are more common for warmblood horses.

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How can you tell when a horse is feeling stressed? It’s all in the eyes and the way their eyelids twitch, University of Guelph researchers have discovered. A horse will blink less and twitch its eyelids more when it’s under mild stress, the research team found – a new finding that could offer handlers a simple, easy-to-spot sign their animal is becoming agitated.

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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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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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