Many horse behavioural problems originate from the environment.

Common horse behavioural problems

Typical horse behavioural problems can have a physical or psychological origin. Whatever the issue with your horse’s behaviour, it’s a good idea to have a vet examine the animal to rule out any physical and psychological complaints. Common horse behavioural problems experienced by equestrians include compulsive horse actions like: tossing and shaking the head repetitively, pacing the stall, weaving, shyness and fear, and separation anxiety. Many vets are also animal behaviour experts, so it’s worth asking your vet about this when they visit. Read on for more information about the most common horse behavioural problems and possible explanations for your horse’s actions.
A horse’s life
Horses spend much of their lives in stables. When a horse is spending too much time in a small stall, a host of behavioural problems can develop. Horses can become bored with the dull environment, and miss the company of people and other horses. In the wild, horses spend much time in social groups. They enjoy being in company and get lonely when they are left alone for long periods of time.

Horse behavioural problems involving shaking and tossing the head:

When a horse exhibits repetitive behaviour like shaking and tossing the head, it’s important to note the context of this action. For example, if this behaviour occurs both in the stables and whilst grazing, this indicates a compulsive disorder. However, horses can also start to engage in repetitive actions when they are confined in a living space that is too small to meet their needs. In other words, in many cases when there is no underlying psychological issue, these types of horse behavioural problems can be remedied by providing a larger stall.

Horse behavioural problems involving pacing the stall and weaving:

Pacing and weaving behaviours tend to occur most frequently when a horse is kept in a small stall. Like horse behavioural problems involving head tossing, pacing and weaving is remedied by giving the animal more room to move around in.

Horse behavioural problems involving destructive actions:

Frustrated and anxious horses can exhibit repetitive destructive behaviours involving grabbing upright objects like posts or wood with their teeth, and pulling back while appearing to suck air. A horse will need to spend a large percentage of the day grazing in order to stay psychologically healthy. Lonely and frustrated creatures typically develop horse behavioural problems.

Bach Flowers for Horses:

While you are making changes to cope with your horse’s behavioural problems, you may wish to consider tying Rescue Remedy for soothing the animal through the transition. Bach Flower essences are completely safe to use with horses. The Rescue Remedy contains 5 different Bach flower essences for helping animals cope with change, shyness, impatience, shock, stress, and fear. If your horse is suffering from an emotional imbalance not listed on this page, you can discuss this with your Bach therapist. Your Bach Flowers specialist can prepare you a special mix of essences for balancing out the negative emotions causing horse behavioural problems.

Tom VermeerschCreated by Tom Vermeersch Tom Vermeersch is a certified Psychologist and Bach flower expert with more than 30 years of experience.

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