FEBRUARY 2020 THE RIDER /27 ^Between The Ears^

that period? If there is hay remaining, than we know the answer is yes. If there is no hay remaining than how do you know what the time period was? If worried about waste, than invest in a hay saver method. When we look at soli-

By Ellie Ross. What impact does your

horse’s living arrangements have on its behaviour? I had the opportunity to attend presentations and also chat with Dr. Andrew McLean, who has been travelling around the world studying and consulting on behav- iour. The saddest realization is the amount of resistance in the horse world to address their horses mental health and well being. They think they are providing what is best and are often very re- sistant to change. To understand the

horse better, lets look at what is natural for them. They are not solitary ani-

mals and we all know this. They usually live in cohe- sive bands with other mares, their young and one stallion. Yet many horses are forced to live basically in isolation. It is natural for horses to continuously graze and cover a large territory yet many horses are ‘turned out’ for short periods in tiny areas that often end up with no grass. Its been scientifi- cally proven that four hours without food can lead to gastric upset and increases the potential for ulcers but what is the period of time without food for horses be- tween their last night feed- ing and the morning? Did they have enough hay for

The Fire Horse

tary confinement in people, we know that this is the cru- elest form of punishment in our penitentiaries. The psy- chological effects set in quicker than one could imagine and for some, the effects last a lifetime. A study was done using mon- keys that were placed in solitary confinement. They could not escape but were provided their tiny individ- ual space, a bed, a place to potty and received adequate food and water. Within 72 hours, most assumed a fetal position, some began repet- itive sterotypical rocking behaviour. When the study was ended, some of the monkeys returned to ‘nor- mal behaviour’ but some never recovered and contin- ued the repetitive behav- iours for the remainder of their lives. Interesting par- allel to horses living in com- mon show stabling and weavers. Dr. McLean shared

with me a story about being hired to address deteriorat- ing equine behaviour with

Horse Housing determines Happiness and Behavior

escalating stress at a mounted police stable. Upon arrival he inspected the stable. It was very clean, organized and had excellent air quality. All good right? He also noticed stabling that had solid stall walls all the way up, little natural light, no ability to see other horses except the horses in view across or whatever horses were being moved through the aisles. They had limited turnout that was individual. The complaint was that the horses were ‘acting up’. They seemed generally un- happy and the only areas being reviewed was their job. Dr. McLean knew dif- ferently. He advised them to change the living arrange- ments. Have stalls that per- mitted horses to interact with their neighbours. Be able to look out of their stalls. Have natural light and slowly introduced them to group or paired turnout. His suggestions were met with great resistance but it was all implemented. Initially they deemed it a complete failure but he warned them that a transition period would lead them to believe that this wouldn’t work. He knew there would be in- juries and there were a few, mostly bite wounds. But after about six months, the horses changed. The social

everyday I tighten a band around your chest, restricting your heart. Have you ever had a mammogram? Meditate on that. This is what we do with our horses when we tighten the girth so tight.

They are horses, powerful proud

beings, they will never cry out in pain until it is too late. Remember that. If you find a good fitting saddle

for your horse, you can make him even more comfortable by placing the saddle in the correct position and sit- ting properly. Because horses have a spine,

they too can have spinal problems. Not everyone is made equal. Some horses need an adjustment

sometimes if they have a growth spurt and they are taller on one side more than the other half of their body, this could cause a problem. If this is not fixed, the rider and

horse could suffer. The rider could be- come lopsided in her seat, and the horse may have problems going under with the back leg on either side of his body.

By Lauren Bode All content copyrighted

My mission statement. Having developed and practiced my talent

for years, I speak for animals. I willingly provide a voice for the non-

human creatures of our world, in the hope that I may assist them to obtain greater health, better un- derstanding of their expected roles, and better re- lationships with their human partners. Through my classes and daily contacts, I

encourage others to develop closer bonds, appre- ciation and mutual trust with animals, and a re- spect for all life in this world. Chapter 16 Saddles I must write this chapter as I think, it is very

important for all riders to understand the anatomy of the horse. Girth’s are tightened too tight, some horses

faint because of this, other horses have constant pain because the girth is too tight. That is where the heart is. Imagine this:

Loading a horse Sometimes we are ready to load

an animal because we have to be somewhere at a certain time. Our horses are not in that space with us mentally, so it is a bit of a problem when we open their stall door and while speaking to another person, walk them out the door and to their horse trailer. Some horses dutifully will load, some will stop and refuse to go on that trailer. My advice to you my friends, is

to prepare yourself and your horse for loading. It is not enough if you bring

your horse to the trailer and make him get into it. Imagine, I come to your house,

grab you by the hand and put you in my car or truck. What would your re- action be to that? I know you are not a horse, but hopefully you get it.

deficit was no longer a part of their daily lives. The horses even physically ap- peared in better body condi- tion. They were much happier and their anxiety levels decreased drastically. Mutual grooming is a

social function in the equine species that results in a re- duction in tension. Why deny them this among everything else? Play has been shown to be an indica- tor in good welfare. The male horse play repertoire has adaptive functions that prepare them to live with a harem. Mares on the other hand tend to be more likely

Horses in the field run away

from us sometimes, everyone has their own theory why this happens. They are not ready to go where we want them to go. We expect full obe- dience from our horses every time. If all of us humans lived like that, we should be robots. Horses are sentient beings. With

time and patience, they will under- stand what we need from them. Some horses are more aware than others and realize that if they do what we are asking them to do, their lives will be easier.

However, because horses are

sentient beings just like humans, and have the same organs as we do, in- cluding a brain to go with that huge body and they will sometimes react differently. Just like us humans, some

horses learn differently. I prefer to show them what it is we would like them to do instead of squeezing with our legs while listening to a voice in our ears, transmitted by a coach. It stands to reason, that if they

have a brain as we humans do, they will have deficiencies as we do. Some humans do not learn the conventional way i.e they do not listen to our voice commands in the way you would ex- pect.

Tragically for the horses, one

will not take the time or the patience to teach them otherwise. When I visit a barn I meet so

many horses in varying stages of ac- cepting their training. I usually ask their owners, after I have had the horse tell me the problem, what it is exactly they are asking from the horse. I will then communicate the vi- sion to the horse. Not the physical vi- sion,

but through thought

transference. Usually I get people who tell me

they speak like that to their horses, I agree that they do, its easier to agree. The problem with that is that the horse usually ends up being even

to display agnostic behav- iour to establish a hierarchy and once the hierarchy is es- tablished, the agnostic be- haviour declines. In a study done by K.

Yarnell et al. / Physiology & Behavior they concluded that the horses that were al- lowed to satisfy their roam- ing needs in addition to social contact with other horses were more compli- ant, less stressed and had a considerable impact on their wellbeing. “Providing the opportunity to display natu- ral behaviours that includes physical contact with ideally more than one horse is the

more confused than before they did that, as the horses are listening to our thoughts, and unless you really know how to do this correctly, you will end up confusing your animal. It takes time and patience, lots

of time and lots of patience to grasp this way of communicating. I am not trying to dissuade any-

one, just offering some advice from my experience witnessing devastating results to horses from humans with great big egos. I have met trainers with learning

disabilities training horses. I am not saying that all trainers have learning disabilities, I am telling you of what I know. It is a big problem for the horses. Horses are not as advanced as

we are, they do not know what a blown tire, or a gun shot sounds like, remember they were bred for the most part away from the noise of the streets. I have met horses who do not

optimum housing design. If that is not possible then pro- vide visual contact to reduce aversiveness associated with isolated housing.” Conclusion;


quate housing design could potentially cause stress and result in negative conse- quences on the health and well being of domestic horses. The behavioural and physiological findings dur- ing this study imply that the social housing designs were less aversive and improved the standard of equine wel- fare.

like to be clipped. Why? Because we use an electric clipper on the horse, combined with the humidity or long use, it can shock the horse. Now which horse wants to be shocked? It will not take a couple of minutes to remedy that situation. Sometimes when I touch my car

door in winter, I will get a shock. So, I avoid touching it. Can the horse avoid the clipper? Horses have learnt the hard way

that if they do not obey us, the out- come could be very sordid. We move our horses from barn

to barn, we take our horses away from the herd they have come to know and those who often rip their blankets. If you see your horse is losing

weight, something is wrong. Call your vet please. A simple blood test will give

you an insight into the problem.

Copyright Lauren Bode

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