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Tip of the Week


Helping our horses with stressHelping our horses with stress

We all know about stress in people, but what about our horses? Horses were meant to be herd animals, wandering around the land, and grazing over 20 hours a day.

They are a “flight or fight” animal meaning fear or threat causes physiological changes (adrenaline, cortisone, increased heart rate, and increased blood to muscles) causing them to run away or fight by biting, kicking, rearing, and striking. Yet we “break” them to behave how we want which conflicts with their natural instinct.

We confine them to stalls and paddocks, oftentimes with horses as stablemates they may not choose if given the choice. Many show and race horses only get to exercise an hour a day and even then we control them during that time.

We feed meals of hay and high concentrated grains giving them lots of energy while only keeping them busy a few hours a day. We expect them to walk onto trailers, which are moving, confining, noisy, and unnatural objects to be feared. All these factors contribute to their stress.

Each horse may exhibit stress or suffer from the physical results of stress differently. Behavioral issues such as aggression or cribbing and stall weaving may occur. GI tract disorders, including ulcers and diarrhea may result. Inflamed muscles and joints can cause lameness and sore backs all as a result of stress.

To help reduce your horse’s stresses consider the following:

  • Patiently teach him what you want him to do (avoid fear/fighting)
  • Put hay in a feeder or net to slow down eating and feed smaller meals frequently
  • Increase turn out and/or exercise (not focused work)
  • More personal attention (quality time-grooming, playing, going for walks)
  • Put toys they like in their stall or paddock
  • Keep a friend nearby, even a goat can help if a horse friend isn’t available
  • Physical therapies (massage, chiropractic, essential oils)
  • Nutritional supplements for balancing (KAM Stress Buster cookies)

This tip was brought to you by KAM Animal Services, now offering the Cookies with a Clue Holiday Gift Bucket, the perfect gift for anyone that loves horses. These all natural treats help keep your horse balanced and can be ordered from now until the end of December by going to www.kamanimalservices.com or by calling 519-463-9640. It’s only $29.95 and the cute bucket is loaded with wonderfully wrapped baggies of delicious, all organic, sugar-free supplement cookies.