Dealing With A Horse's Fear | Top Tips October 03 2015
Recently I read an interesting article about horses and their fear. It highlighted how important it is to always see our man-made world through the eyes of our horse. It really resonated with me. Horses are so frequently misunderstood.
Fight & Flight
We all know horses have a 'fight or flight' fear mechanism and usually they display the latter. To know how to deal with their fear correctly, it's very important that we understand why they are fearful.
The number one thing a horse fears, is the fear of being attacked by a predator. As a prey animal, horses live their entire lives on high alert. Horses are "hypervigilant" and hugely intelligent. Aside from the elephant, they have the greatest memories of all animals.
The 5 Triggers
There is considered to be five things which trigger a horse's fear:
It's important to recognize if your horse is displaying key signs of fear. These include:
- Widening of the eyes
- Flared nostrils
- Pricked ears
- A raised head carriage
- Stiffened neck
It's through this identification that we can then decide how best we are going to manage (and try to diffuse) their fear in a safe way.
Helping Your Horse Through Fear
If you horse is displaying signs of fear, the most important thing is to keep him moving.
"When a horse is experiencing fear the best thing to do is give him a job".
Whether that be on the ground or on his back, make sure you get his legs moving, especially his hind quarters. This will prevent the flight mechanism taking full control, and stop you last being seen heading for the hills!
Always let your horse face their demons. Allowing a horse to spin away from what scares them will only encourage him to flight thereafter.
Patting and talking, with gentle pressure on his mouth and sides, will also help reassure him.
Do you have any tips for dealing with horses' fear? If so, please share them with us!
Source: Trot On