Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hi, everyone! It’s Whinny, your favorite field mouse blogger. Today let’s talk about what makes horses happy. Horses are such majestic creatures. They are so big and strong, yet so gentle and graceful. They can run faster than any animal I know, and they can jump over obstacles like they are nothing. They are also very smart and loyal, and they have a special bond with humans. But do you know what makes horses happy? How do they live in the wild and in captivity? What do they eat and how do they play? What are some of the problems they face and how can we help them?

Abnormal Behaviors in Horses

First of all, let’s talk about what abnormal behaviors are. They are behaviors that horses do not normally do in the wild or in natural conditions. They are usually caused by stress, frustration, boredom, or pain. They can also affect the health and welfare of horses.

Some examples of abnormal behaviors are:

Stereotypies: These are repetitive and meaningless movements that horses do over and over again, such as biting on wood or metal, weaving (swaying from side to side), stall-walking, head-shaking, or wind-sucking (sucking air into the mouth, also called cribbing).

Redirected behaviors: These are behaviors that horses do to other objects or animals instead of their normal targets, such as wood-chewing, self-mutilation, aggression, or pica (eating dirt or other non-food items).

Feeding disorders: These are behaviors that affect the way horses eat or drink, such as coprophagy (eating feces), polydipsia (drinking too much water), or anorexia (not eating enough food).

These behaviors are not good for horses. They can cause physical injuries, dental problems, digestive issues, infections, weight loss, or even death. They can also make horses unhappy, anxious, depressed, or aggressive.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

What Causes Abnormal Behaviors in Horses?

Now that you know what abnormal behaviors are, let me tell you what causes them. According to my research, there are many factors that can influence the development and prevalence of abnormal behaviors in horses. Some of them are:

Type of housing: This is how horses are kept in captivity. Some horses live in stables with small individual stalls, where they have limited space and no contact with other horses. Other horses live in pastures or paddocks with larger areas and more social interactions.

Diet: This is what horses eat and drink. Some horses have access to fresh grass and hay all day long, which is good for their digestion and teeth. Other horses get fed concentrated meals rich in grains and sugars twice or three times a day, which can cause stomach ulcers and colic.

Social interactions: This is how horses communicate and relate with other horses and humans. Some horses have a lot of friends and family members that they can groom and play with. Other horses are isolated or separated from their herd mates or companions.

Exercise: This is how much physical activity horses get. Some horses have plenty of opportunities to run, jump, explore, or compete. Other horses have little or no exercise at all.

Climatic conditions: This is how the weather affects horses. Some horses live in regions with mild temperatures and seasons. Other horses live in areas with extreme heat or cold, rain or snow, wind or drought.

Biological factors: This is how the genes and hormones affect horses. Some horses are born with a higher or lower tendency to develop abnormal behaviors. Other horses are influenced by their age, sex, breed, or reproductive status.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

How can we Prevent or Treat Abnormal Behaviors in Horses?

Let’s talk about how we can prevent or treat abnormal behaviors in horses. My research pointed to some ways that we can improve the welfare and happiness of horses. Some of them are:

Providing more space and freedom: Giving horses more room to move around and express their natural behaviors. For example, we can use larger stalls, paddocks, or pastures, or allow horses to roam freely in natural environments.

Offering more roughage: Giving horses more fiber to keep their digestive system healthy and prevent boredom. For example, we can use hay nets, slow feeders, or always provide fresh grass and hay.

Increasing social contact: This means allowing horses to interact with other horses and humans in a positive way. For example, we can use group housing, mixed-sex herds, or companion animals, or provide regular grooming, training, or play sessions. This one is often missing from the lives of show horses.

Enhancing exercise and enrichment: Providing horses with more physical and mental stimulation to keep them fit and happy. For example, we can use different types of riding, driving, or groundwork exercises, or provide toys, puzzles, or music.

Adjusting climatic conditions: Protect horses from harsh weather conditions and providing them with comfort and safety. For example, we can use shelters, blankets, fans, or heaters, or avoid exposing horses to extreme temperatures or humidity.

Considering biological factors: Taking into account the individual characteristics and needs of each horse. For example, we can use genetic testing, hormonal therapy, or behavioral therapy, or avoid breeding or using horses that are prone to abnormal behaviors.

Wow! That was a lot of information! I hope you learned something new and interesting about horses and their behaviors. I know I did! Horses are amazing animals that deserve our respect and care. They have complex emotions and needs that we should try to understand and fulfill. They also have unique personalities and preferences that we should appreciate and respect.

If we want to have happy and healthy horses, we need to provide them with a suitable environment, a balanced diet, a social life, an active lifestyle, a comfortable climate, and a personalized approach. If you want help designing a program that meets all these needs, talk to my amazing docs. They will factor in your horse, your farm, and your horse’s lifestyle to maximize happiness.

That’s it for now! Until next week,


P.S. There are a ton of great videos over on my YouTube Channel. Have you checked them out? Between the videos and the podcast the humans around here do, Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth (which is the biggest horse podcast in the world, if I may toot their horn!) you can get a free graduate degree in horse care just by watching and listening to my docs while you ride or clean stalls. So make sure you’re taking advantage of all these resources!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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