Many horse owners today are dealing with different equine behavioural problems. A few of these common complaints include bucking, chewing, kicking, nipping, and disinclination to obey simple commands. This is frustrating enough especially during training.
There are various causes as to why horses develop bad behaviour. Fortunately, there are also different ways on how you can correct unwanted equine behaviour, but it takes one to fully understand the root cause first. Most behavioural issues in horses have explanations to it and it requires you to do a little digging. Among the most common causes of bad behaviour in these animals are pain and discomfort (from possible illness), and so are poor training methods, fear, and boredom.
Horses do not exhibit unpleasant characters without any reason, but they can pick them up when hanging around with other horses too much – just like getting influenced by the wrong crowd. Other cases can simply be attributed to their dominant personalities. To understand more about behaviour problems in horses and find solutions to it, you should understand some of their common causes.
Evaluating the Causes of Behavioral Issues
Saddles can be a cause for behavioural problems in horses since improper saddling can bring them pain and discomfort. Try to observe your horse as you put on the saddle or as you are riding him with the saddle on. The pain can be intensified especially when riding. When you notice that your horse feels anxious as you take out the saddle, it could be a sign that he does not like it. To remedy this, make sure that the saddle fits onto your horse well. If you have ruled out saddles as the cause for pain and discomfort in your horse, there may be other factors that make your horse anxious.
Biting or nipping is another behavioural problem commonly displayed by horses. If you notice that your horse bites or nips you whenever you groom or touch a certain part of its body, it only tells you that on that particular area, it is painful to the touch. In this case, you must investigate more or may have to get your veterinarian involved. There are also horses that may not feel sore on a particular area that is sensitive to touch, but are rather just ticklish and would not want to have anyone touch that particular area.
In the case of nipping without apparent reason like pain or discomfort in a certain part of the body, your horse may simply be bored – or plainly, it does not understand that biting is definitely a no-no. Horses are not like dogs, where they can’t put your paw or scratch on you just to get your attention. They use their mouths instead. When you have a horse that nips too much, it’s time to re-evaluate your training methods and impose that biting is inappropriate.
Cinchy horses are seen to be pinning their ears, or shaking their heads too much, or they could project different signs that will tell you they are indeed grumpy. This behaviour can be caused by improper saddling, pain in the sternum area or near the rib, or back sores.
If your horse does not submit to your commands and may appear to be stubborn or lazy especially when moving forward, that does not mean that it is just behaving so for the sake of it. Your horse could be experiencing hoof problems such as sore heels and corns. Regular appointments with the farrier can help keep your horse’s hooves in excellent condition, so you won’t have to deal with hoof-related behavioural problems.
Stress is a big factor for equine behavioural problems. Stress in horses is brought about by trailering, intensive exercise, solitary confinement, and other emotional, physical, or mental problems. Stress can be remedied by allowing your horse to get used to new things – feed, training regimen, herd group, and even environment.
Pay attention to how much time you let your horse spend in the stables as this can greatly contribute to the development of bad behaviour. Horses need a lot of exercise because if they don’t, they get bored easily and they develop vices just to cope with boredom. Stabled horses tend to be explosive especially when they are released.
Dealing with Bad Behaviours
Bad behaviours in horses usually spring from improper handling or training of the animal. Somewhere along the way of your careful equine management practices, you may have missed the part where you pay attention to what your horse is saying, and ultimately, the unnoticed signs become a problem. If you think that what your horse is showing is a behavioural issue, you need to assess and reassess your horse. It could be a problem with his back or neck, or his teeth or hooves, and so on. In order to address these issues, horse owners should be vigilant about the possible reasons why horses behave the way they do. In the case of health problems being the reason, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian.