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Behaviour

How Can I Reduce My Horse’s Stress?

Equine psychologist Antonia J.Z. Henderson, Ph.D., describes how to tell if your horse is experiencing chronic stress and what you can do to help.

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By: Antonia J.Z. Henderson |

Horses, like us, are equipped to spend resources in fighting or fleeing external threats, and while this can result in high levels of stress, the short duration limits the cost to the animal’s resources. Indeed short-term stress can be beneficial, mobilizing the immune system and motivating an individual to conquer problems. For example, horses handle intense but temporary stress, like transport, surprisingly well. On the other hand, prolonged low-level stress exerts a much higher toll and leaves one vulnerable to illness, infections and other threats to mental and physical well-being. For many horses this chronic stress is embedded into their daily lives. Here, I will explore what stresses horses out, what is probably manageable and what is not, look at the consequences of that unmanageable stress, and what we might do to alleviate it. Transport Stress Studies indicate that transport stress appears to peak in anticipation of transport and loading,…

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