It is not just people who can suffer from stress and its negative consequences. Stress in horses exists to a very high degree, and it can have negative consequences. In today’s article we will tell about stress in horses, how to detect it and what you can do to alleviate the situation.
What is stress?
In biological terms, stress is defined as physical and mental changes that occur due to repeated stimuli such as fear, cold, joy, etc.
People generally tend to associate stress with negative emotions, which arise in, for example, dangerous situations. However, there is also positive stress, if defined as the tension caused by a situation that makes the animal too excited.
This type of stress is very common in dogs, when they realize, for example, that they are going for a walk or when the owner comes home from work. But it can also affect humans and other animals, including horses.
Stress is not always bad
A certain level of stress is a good thing, and it is important that you pay attention to how you should react. Keep in mind that an animal’s survival is mostly due to its ability to detect dangers and react in time to escape or defend itself.
However, problems arise when stress is constantly present. If this is the case, the body will not stay balanced. A stressed person who is always on the alert and is stressed will not be able to relax.
The animal’s body and mind will slowly begin to change, and not in a good way. As a result, health will change. You will notice differences in terms of sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. The horse may also become more irritated and weak. All this can in turn result in diseases.
Why are horses stressed?
Stress in horses can be due to several different things. They are very intelligent animals that can easily detect changes in their environment. As a result, they become more sensitive to stress, especially when they are not growing up in a positive environment.
We will now tell you about the main causes of stress in horses:
- Sudden change in their environment. Many animals stick to routines to protect themselves and avoid exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. Sudden changes in their environment can therefore make them stressed.
- Insufficient physical activity. Horses are very active and intelligent animals. Their bodies and senses must therefore be stimulated to maintain a proper balance. A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity is a common cause of stress in horses.
- Problems sleeping. Horses also need to rest to regain their energy and maintain mental balance. Sleep problems lead to the horses becoming stressed.
- Aging. As the horses get older, they also become weaker and the animal may begin to feel vulnerable. This often makes him stressed when he is greeted by new strange stimuli.
- Negative environment or upbringing. Horses can often suffer if the surrounding environment is negative. They may feel threatened or they may not be cared for properly. Loneliness and lack of interaction with other beings can also cause stress.
- Health problems. Diseases that give the horse intense pain.
Symptoms of stress in horses
You can easily detect stress symptoms in horses if you observe their body language. We have therefore compiled a list that may be helpful:
- The horse is constantly scratching the floor
- The tail is constantly raised
- Muscle stiffness
- Lack of appetite
- Repetitive head movements
- To swallow air
- Exaggerated reactions
- The horse often opens its nostrils
When it comes to chronic and prolonged stress, the horse may develop other symptoms. He may perform certain actions and movements in a repetitive manner or he may injure himself.
How to relieve stress in horses
Use the following tips:
- Make sure the horse gets enough physical exercise. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and overstimulation.
- Give him a balanced diet and make sure he gets enough fluids.
- Make sure he is in a positive environment. He must be able to express himself freely so that he can be healthy and happy.
- He needs a comfortable resting area.
- Give him the medication he needs, including vaccines and deworming.