Combating Stress in Equine Athletes
The demands of physical training, the lifestyle they lead, and pressure to perform are just a few elements that can cause stress in racehorses.
By: Hayley Morrison |
Thoroughbred racehorses are often anxious, which may be due to stress, not inherent temperament. This Canadian Thoroughbred article outlines various sources of stress that racehorses commonly experience, and it describes a number of ways to moderate those stresses.
At Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield’s barn, the horses get stress relief from playing with stuffed animals to mitigate the boredom and isolation of spending so much time in stalls. Another Attfield strategy is giving horses as much turnout as possible. This is done in a round pen, allowing the horses to unwind without much risk of injury.
Some trainers use tranquilizers to help decrease a horse’s anxiety, but that is a short-term fix. One proven long-term solution is the use of companion animals, which can often make fractious horses calmer and happier. Remembering that horses are herd animals, and recognizing individual stress triggers, are both important strategies for stress reduction.