Did you know that horses that are living under the hormones of stress are more prone to colic, ulcers, laminitis and metabolic syndrome?⠀
There are many different emotional and physical stressors that can increase stress in horses but here are 3 specific ones that I have seen trigger or exacerbate these conditions:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1) Infrequent feedings
3) Loneliness and grief⠀
Horses are anatomically designed to graze on vegetation 24/7 so limiting their feedings to once or twice daily can be a major cause of unnecessary stress.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Horses are prey animals, so being able to move and run when they need to is part of their biology. When this ability is taken away, they get stressed.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Horses are herd animals with a high emotional quotient (EQ). This means that bonding and community is essential to their well-being and safety. When they are separated from their favorite herd mate or they lose them, they experience loss and grief, just like humans. This also causes stress.⠀
What can you do?
The best way to help your horse manage their stress levels is to ensure they have access to the 3 F’s:
Make sure your horses always have access to free choice hay or slow feeders. This will not only reduce boredom, depression and stress but it will also go a long way in preventing colic and ulcers.
Providing your horse with freedom doesn’t mean you need 50 acres to own a horse. What is important to them is that they feel free to run, roam, play, and express themselves when they want to, without feeling confined to a small space.
Provide your horse with a social life. Pair them up with at least one horse they can bond with. Horses are much happier when they have friends they can groom, nap and hang with.
It is also important that they feel safe and protected in their herd without being picked on or chased off the hay pile.
The happier they are emotionally, the healthier they will be physically. And when horses are at their best, they are way more willing to deepen their connection with you.
I am an animal lover, health consultant, scientist and educator. I am passionate about delivering safe and effective health care to all animals but horses and dogs have a special place in my heart. I believe that through education and awareness of natural animal health we can drastically improve their quality of life and longevity. I invite you to join me on my quest to make the world a better place for all of them.