Posing Questions

There is an almost infinite number of questions that can be posed – both personally and of the living environment – regarding “problematic behaviour” in a horse. It is important to answer the questions honestly and carefully; never skip a question because the answer seems obvious or “normal”; never think that because others in your locality do or don’t do, give or don’t give specific things that that is also good or normal – sadly, much equine management is a series of learned habits and has little to do with what is actually good for horses.

  • Has anything changed recently regarding housing, feeding, training/work (type and intensity) or has the horse experienced something unusual (a fall – either itself or the rider, illness, injury, panic, scare, shock reaction…)?
  • Has the horse (ever) been shod – and if so, have the shoes recently been renewed, changed or removed? How is the horse treated/handled by the farrier/trimmer?
  • Has anything greatly changed in yourself or the person that works with the horse? Think of redundancy, emotional events, the end of a relationship, loss etc. Don’t forget that the horse is very sensitive to the energy in the people around it.
  • Is there any negative feeling with other horses? Have new horses arrived or companion horses left? What sort of atmosphere is there around the stables, both between horses and between the people?
  • How is the horse kept? How much exercise/movement does he get in a day and how often? Is he at liberty or is his exercise (principally) when he is ridden/trained?
  • What form does his training take?
  • How is he fed? Does he have access to starch and sugars? Is there unrestricted access to hay and/or grass?
  • Do you have a explanation for his behaviour? Can you place a link with anything?
  • Does his behaviour create nervousness, fear or impatience in the people that work with him? How do they cope with this?
  • How much does the horse trust the rider, the rider the horse and what is the relationship between them?
  • Has a possible physical problem been sought? Think of back problems, trapped nerves, hoof, leg, joint or dental problems. An osteopath, equine physiotherapist or equine dentist can be of help here.
  • What aboout the saddle and blanket/numnah? Is the saddle due to be checked by a fitter? Has the saddle been dropped? Is the cinch well fitting or does it pinch?
  • Is the horse ridden with a bit? Has anything here changed?
  • Could the horse have a dislike for things he is being asked to do during training sessions or riding? What form does his relaxation take?