January 22, 2019

How to Identify Stress in Your Horse

Horses are prey mammals with their fight or flight reflexes very much intact to flee at any given moment as an instinctive reaction of self-preservation. This means that horses are by nature anxious creatures who need to be handled delicately to avoid stress. Equestrian supplies manufacturers know that horses are delicate creatures so all products are geared to make the horse more comfortable. Here are some ways you can identify stress in your horse.

Signs of Stress in Your Horse

When a horse becomes stressed its adrenal glands release cortisol or “the stress hormone.”

There are multiple ways to recognise stress in your horse so be sure to always be vigilant and know what to look for. If any of these problems persist be sure to consult a veterinarian to rule out a more serious underlying condition. If left untreated, horses can start to deteriorate through weight loss and a whole host of other symptoms.

Signs to Lookout For

If you know your horse’s routine and personality well these should be easy to pick up on. Changes in your horse’s behaviour could be an indication that something is causing it stress and/or discomfort. Changes in behaviour, some of which are often mistaken for misbehaving, can actually be stress induced, these may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular defecation and urination
  • Teeth grinding
  • Kicking
  • Weaving
  • Cribbing
  • Pawing
  • Bucking
  • Trembling
  • Licking and chewing
  • General misbehaving (especially when out of character)
  • Excessive yawning
  • Severe sweating
  • Repetitive head movements
  • Constant tail swishing
  • Flightiness
  • Restlessness
  • Flared nostrils

Possible Reasons for Your Horse’s Stress

There could be a change in the horse’s daily activities which causes it to display signs of stress. Has anything changed? This could include:

  • Transportation
  • Visiting the vet or farrier
  • Social separation
  • Change in environment
  • Change in routine
  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Weaning
  • Training
  • Feed changes or restrictions
  • Change in horse equipment

Sometimes after these situations arise the horse may just need a breather and some space. If the problem persists call a vet.

Equestrian supplies distributors can help in this area if the problem is perhaps that horse equipment used is outdated or somehow causing the horse stress like an ill-fitting bridle or saddle.

For advice “straight from the horse’s mouth” contact Trident Saddlery.