Articles

To help guide you to a deeper relationship with your horse.

 

Horses and Trauma
Does your horse suffer from post-traumatic stress?

Most animals, including horses, spent their lives in herds, packs, flocks, and prides. Horses rely on their mothers and their herds to provide a safe, trust-worthy environment where they can learn behavior regulation, communication skills, exercise their intellect and their bodies, and learn how to live in a social structure, When separated from their parents horses suffer deep trauma, grief, confusion, and depression.

Domestication usually means separating horses from their mothers and herd long before puberty.

Newly separated horses who are allowed positive bonding experiences with sympathetic humans will begin their new lives successfully. Unfortunately, for many reasons, this is not often the case. The new experience of living in the world of humans may mean additional trauma because of rough or indifferent handling. Traumatized horses may aggressively attempt to keep humans at bay, or may become lethargic, spiritless, and lost. Such survival tactics can prompt increased abuse from human handlers who use rigorous training techniques based heavily on pushing, pulling, kicking and punishment. In the end, these damaged horses may pass from owner to owner until they are permanently emotionally and physically injured. Frequently, severely traumatized horses are destroyed.

What Every Horse Needs

What must a sympathetic human provide horses? Provide what was lost. Every horse needs empathy, encouragement and support. Every horse needs:

  1. Someone with whom the horse can attach and trust and who will attach with the horse, unconditionally; who will take the time to learn the horse's language, understands his feelings and behavior.
  2. A safe haven where the horse can learn how to regulate his/her emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
  3. A safe haven to play and exercise both body and mind.
  4. A mentor and role model who inspires and encourages.

Equine Baggage.

If your equine companion comes to you with personal baggage:

  1. Take it slow.
  2. Don’t scare or worry your horse. If your horse becomes tense, STOP! Re-direct your horse to a calming activity that he or she enjoys and can do easily and analyze why your horse became tense in the first place and solve the problem.
  3. Neither tense horses nor tense handlers make good thinkers!
  4. Keep the time with your horse happy and stress free.
  5. Don't attempt to teach too much at the same time.
  6. Don’t' bore your horse with too much repetition - change activities.
  7. End your time with your horse on a good note, before he or she is bored or tired.
  8. Be patient, teach new activities one at a time.
  9. If you’re having difficulty teaching a new idea, break it down into smaller parts or wait for another day.
  10. Always end the lesson with a special treat such as a cube of sugar.

When Things Go Really Wrong - Stop & Heal the Relationship

Realize that you and your horse merely had a communication breakdown which momentarily hindered your confidence in each other and that you both need to take a break to re-establish your confidence and trust.

  1. Rebuild trust, don't worry about the activity.
  2. Don't try to retrain or confirm the lesson, don't reprimand or punish or further confuse or traumatize your horse or yourself.
  3. Do something fun and calming with your horse - take a walk, play with a ball, groom, massage, and always smile and talk to your horse with encouragement in your voice.
  4. Then go back to a previous activity that your horse was doing well.

UPCOMING BITLESS RIDING CLINICS

Bitless horse-rider teams practice ground & flat work, trail-riding, and traversing obstacles. An action-packed two-day experience!.

  • April 23-24
  • May 14-15
  • June 11-12
  • July 16-17
  • August 6-7
  • September 24-25
  • October 15-16
  • November 5-6
  • December 3-4

NEW! An optional third day of group practice with a half-hour private session will be offered at the end of each clinic. Space is limited! Auditors: $50 Riders: $200

Click here to learn more »