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Category: Behaviour

In years gone by horses were left to roam the plains, free to do what they liked. Normal horse behaviour in the wild is quite complicated, with different social hierarchical groups and complex herd communication. In the wild horses are responsible for all aspects of their survival, domesticated horses on the other hand rely on us for all aspects of their care, such as providing food, body care/grooming, and making sure they are warm in winter and cool in summer.

The majority of horses adapt very well to domestication, but they are expected to live in small stables and graze in small, enclosed areas, and this environmental change, compared to their feral counterparts, gives rise to a range of abnormal behaviours that can be distressing for both horse and owner. Vices, such as box walking, crib-biting and weaving are commonplace and are usually caused by poor management, so it is essential you know how to avoid these. It is important that we ensure our horses are kept in the most comfortable conditions possible to ensure their health and sanity!

As a horse owner you also need to know how to handle your horse correctly to avoid potential problems, both ridden and on the ground. Issues than can crop up include problems with clipping or shoeing. These can be avoided if you know how to deal with them, and prevent them from happening.

Weaving

Weaving is a common problem found in horses that are stabled for prolonged periods of time without any stimulation or social contact. Dealing with weaving is simple and common sense management will help to manage weaving in the majority of

Vices – why and how to manage them

Horses have to put up with a lot! In years gone by horses were left to roam the plains free to do what they liked. Now they are expected to live in small stables and graze in small, enclosed areas.

Rearing

A horse may respond to certain circumstances by rearing. This may range from small rears with the front feet raised only a couple of feet off the ground, to a full rear where the horse is standing vertically on its

Headshaking

Headshaking is a problem seen in horses all over the country. If your horse is affected it is important to try and find out the cause of the problem so that appropriate treatment and preventive methods can be put into

Crib-biting/wind-sucking/wood-chewing

Crib-biting, wind-sucking and wood-chewing are repetitive oral behaviours that are most commonly seen in stabled horses. Crib-biting and wind-sucking are similar behaviours and may reflect digestive discomfort, whereas wood-chewing may simply reflect re-directed feeding behaviour. Nonetheless, all may be treated

Common training problems and how to deal with them

Sadly, horses often develop problem behaviours that affect the relationship between horse and handler. A recent study of horses presented in a slaughter house in Europe identified that the most common reason for horse destruction was not due to physical

Clipping problems – how to deal with them

As with many animals, horses grow a thicker coat in winter. The thickness of the winter coat varies depending on the breed of horse or pony and whether they are stabled or turned out in the field during the colder

Clicker training

There is an increasing interest in the use of positive reinforcement techniques for training new behaviours in horses. The use of secondary reinforcers to establish a new behavioural response was originally used with performing sea mammals. One commonly used form

Bucking

Bucking is the term used for when a horse kicks out with both hind legs at the same time. Bucking can often unseat a rider, especially an inexperienced one. It is can be dangerous to ride a horse that bucks,

Bruxism

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a commonly observed problem in horses, and is often a sign of physical or psychological discomfort. Sudden onset of bruxism should be investigated in relation to clinical problems, as this is likely to be due