Horses are great intelligent creatures and everybody who gets in touch with a horse will not help but notice that they are great friends and will brighten up any day. But there is a dark side to horses that every horse lover is aware of. Horses, just like humans have their bad days, or years. In order to come up with a solution to a certain problem, you must understand what is the reason behind it.
What are the most common behavior problems in horses and how to deal with them?
Disobedience. This is probably one of the most serious problems that you would face. Simply your horse will refuse to do what you want it to do. There are a lot of reasons that can cause horses to become disobedient. After all, the horse is bigger than you, so why shouldn’t it listen to you. Also, your horse might be scared of what you want it to do.
Aggression. A horse might be aggressive towards other horses, animals or people. This could be simply a battle for dominance where your horse is trying to prove that it is stronger, or it could be a result of competition for resources. If your horse is afraid of a certain stimulant or if the situation reminds it of a previous bad experience, it will act aggressively.
Destructive. Horses could be destructive to themselves or to the environment around them. A horse will resort to wood chewing if it lacks mental stimulation. Trying to address the problem without understanding the correct reason behind it, will prevent you from stopping the behavior. Even if you try to paint the wood in a chemical that would make it taste bad, the horse might resort to other destructive behaviors, like box walking or cribbing.
What are the causes of bad behavior and how to overcome them?
Physical discomfort. A horse will be disobedient if the activity causes pain. You should pay attention especially if your horse doesn’t want to do something that it has previously done. Look for any signs of injury because maybe this is what is stopping your horse from complying. If the horse’s back or legs hurt, it will be reluctant to riding and any activity related to it like putting on the saddle. At the same time, a saddle that doesn’t fit well will make your horse uncomfortable and be disobedient is the only way they know to attract your attention to the problem. Disobedience should be handled with care because if your horse is injured and you ignore it, it might lead to further complications.
Lack or interrupted education. In case of untrained or young horses, you will find that they have problems with obeying orders that don’t seem natural to them. The solution is quite easy, you should simply devote more time and attention to your horse and it will get used to what you want it to do. Horses also forget things over time. So if your horse has been trained for a certain behavior and then it wasn’t practiced for years, you must expect to spend some time trying to freshen up its memory.
Bad diet or emotional stress. Emotional stress can lead to eating disorders in horses, just like it does with humans. If a horse got separated from a longtime companion, it might stop eating for a while. Horses will be reluctant to eat if they are under stress or if they are sad. Being confined for long periods, along with food that gets eaten up fast can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Your horse might start eating sand, soil or wood. In this case, it is advised to revise the horse’s diet to see what it lacks.
If you find that your horse is becoming obese then it is not advised to deprive it of food all of the sudden. This should be done gradually while increasing exercise.
Fear and stress. These are probably the main 2 reasons behind most of the unacceptable horses’ behavior. Horses have preferred partners and if they change they might get aggressive to the horses they don’t know. A horse will resort to kicking if it sees another horse that it doesn’t know as a result of stress. In this situation, the reason for kicking should be determined and dealt with. This could be done by rearranging the social group or keeping new horses separated by a fence for a while.