Six Tips to Reduce Stress in Domestic Horses by primusboy


									Six Tips to Reduce Stress in Domestic Horses
Horse stress can cause a variety of equine health problems but it is easy
to spot and control. Stress causes the release of cortisol, the "fight or
flight" stress hormone. This is a good thing when the situation requires
it, providing extra energy to flee predators or other dangers. Chronic
exposure to stress and the continued release of cortisol, however, will
have a negative impact on immunity, digestion, behavior, reproduction and
the cardiovascular system. Gastric ulcers, colic, and diarrhea may also
occur due to stress.
So what stresses out a horse? They're not on deadline, they don't commute
in heavy traffic, they don't have to manage the complicated school and
sports schedules of their children.
Typically, change to any of a horse's routine can cause an imbalance that
leads to stress. Have you changed feed? Different bedding? Changed
pastures or pasture mates? Small changes can upset even the biggest
Here are some common sources of horse stress and some tips to overcome
1. Improper Feeding
In the wild, horses move and graze. In fact, feral horses spend 70
percent of their time grazing. If your horses are not on pasture, try to
feed at least four times a day at regular intervals.
Some feeds provide too much quick-release carbs. Consider switching to a
slow-energy feed.
2. Lack Of Exercise
Like people, a little exercise goes a long way towards burning off
stress. A walk, a ride, additional's all good.
3. Isolation
Horses are herd animals. A herd provides security, status, emotional
support and entertainment. Without a companion, many horses get lonely
and stressed. Pasture mates can be horses but they don't have to be
horses. Goats, llamas and donkeys are amiable companions, too.
When stabling your horse, be sure she can see her companions. Let her
know she's not alone!
4. Boredom
Boredom can cause stress in horses. Provide toys to combat common stress
related behaviors such as cribbing and weaving. Mirrors can reduce
anxiety for horses confined in their stalls. Looking at themselves is
very calming to some horses. This doesn't work for people. I've tried it.
5. Lack of Confidence
A confident horse is better able to cope with stress. Gently expose your
horse to new sights, sounds and smells, allowing your horse's natural
curiosity to expand their experience of their environment. Encourage
exploration; don't force the issue.
6. Contagious Stress
Speak to your horse in calming tones and stay cool. Do not become
stressed over the fact that your horse is stressed.
Reducing horse stress increases horse health. Many techniques require
nothing more than an understanding of a horse's basic evolutionary needs.
Respect your horse's natural instincts and she'll thrive, stress free!
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