The Grouping of Stress in Horses

There are many situations and indicators that pertain to your horse showing that they are suffering from stress. If you are able to keep stress level low within your horse there is a very good chance that your ride and any other experiences between yourself and your horse will not only be enjoyable but rewarding as well; additionally, by keeping the stress level low you will help your horse to be much happier and healthier allowing them to live a much fuller life.

Stressed levels do seem to reduce when a horse is around other horses; even if a horse cannot be in the same pasture with other horses, they tend to feel more at ease when they are at least able to see other horses around them in fairly close proximity.

When working with horses stress is often grouped into a total of four categories, and they are:

  1. Behavioral or psychological

  2. Mechanical

  3. Metabolic

  4. Immunological

Behavioral Stress – horses do not see the world as you or I do. They look through totally different eyes that allow them to react in a completely different manner. Horses have two types of visions that allow this to happen. The first type of vision that the horse has is known as a monocular vision which allows them to see the sides of their heads. The second type of vision that the horse has at its disposal is binocular vision and this allows them to see objects that are in front of them. Both of these types of visions allow the horse to have a much keener vision sense than you or I have. One important point is that even though these two types of vision are better than ours there is a definite drawback; the horse is unable to see objects in front of them for approximately four feet in distance.

Mechanical Stress – Whenever there is an injury of any sort the stress level has a tendency to increase greatly, examples of this could be: lameness, local inflammation, swelling, heat, and/or pain of any kind.

Nutritional Stress – When looking at the digestive system of the horse we see that it is designed to handle frequent small meals; this is why when a horse is allowed to be left in a grazing environment allowing them to maintain optimum health. One of the greatest contributors to the lowering of stress is the injection of roughage in the correct proportion. Along with roughage there needs to be both vitamins and minerals in your horse’s diet, not exceeding the requirements for the job that they are doing as well as the age of the specific horse.

There are three metabolic problems that are closely related and are integrated with nutritional requirements, and they are:

  1. Colic

  2. Laminitis

  3. Tying up

Immunological Stress – This stress that is experienced by horses is caused by disease and/or parasites and the results can range from superficial discomfort to death; here a good and well-managed vaccination and worming schedule will combat drastic reactions from this type of stress.

We at New Wave Therapy are constantly looking to help horses that suffer from all types and levels of stress and help them to lead much more relaxed and attentive lives allowing both horse and owner to become a better team. We are looking to expand into the area of horses that are affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Any thoughts?


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