Horse Behaviour Problems


Horse Behaviour Specialist Amanda Martin can help!

For help solving your horse behaviour problems contact Amanda.

Why do horse behaviour problems happen?

  • Horses haven’t evolved to live with humans – we’ve domesticated them. This means that it can sometimes be tricky for us to meet all of their basic needs.
  • When a horse’s basic needs are not properly met, this can cause them stress.
  • Stress is a major reason that behavioural problems occur in some horses.

Some horse behaviour problems that may occur are:

  • refusal to trailer load
  • problems catching
  • objecting to rein contact
  • difficult to tack up
  • difficult to rug
  • stereotypical behaviour (stable vices)
  • repetitive colicing
  • bucking / rearing
  • biting
  • Stallion behaviour

Some of these problems indicate that the horse’s basic needs are not being met in some way, others may be learned behaviour, reaction to pain or the memory of pain, or other reasons.

What are a horse´s basic needs?

Horses have what can feel like a very complex array of basic needs:

  • to have friends around them, especially within touching distance.
  • a digestive system that’s designed to have small amounts of food inside it pretty much all of the time.
  • to move when they eat.

a good scratching spot in the field is a resourceEven these needs can be hard to meet, and there are many, many more!
If you have a horse with behaviour problems, it may seem like they’re just being stubborn or uncooperative. But, we need to look deeper than this…

Our horses may be trying to tell us they are not happy using their behaviour.  Labels such as stubborn and uncooperative overlook the real issue…they almost distract us from finding the source of the horse behaviour problem.

Even when we’ve tried to provide as healthy an environment for our horse as possible, we still sometimes see that they’re not coping. Each horse is an individual and what works for one may not suit another. It’s these unwanted behaviours that can tell us whether our horse is coping or not. We must listen to them!

How can S.M.A.A.R.T Horses help with horse behaviour problems?

a-good-scratch-300x288Often just simple changes to your horse’s routine can drastically reduce their stress levels and thus their problem behaviour.

Horse behaviour specialist Amanda Martin can help you identify these changes.

Some reasons for behaviour problems in horses.

  • Horses are individuals, but not just in terms of genetic make up. They all have their own history.
  • Sometimes, what we see as problem behaviour has been learned through experience.
    This may not have been a bad experience; rather the horse has simply learned what worked for him in the past.
  • This does not make the horse ‘bad’ or ‘devious’. It simply shows us how they’ve tried to cope.
  • Once we start to find out what behaviours are important (or reinforcing) to a horse, we can easily work to transform an unwanted behaviour into a desirable one.

But HOW do we know what caused the horse behaviour problems?

Horses can’t talk!

Horses don’t share a verbal language in the same way we do – but they have evolved elaborate and detailed body language which they use to communicate with each other in the wild.

However, as  we’re not horses, we shouldn’t try to use this to train horses and our inability to mimic correctly can inadvertently get us into trouble.

Instead we prefer to use a common language that both the horse and handler can understand.

This language is found in clicker training.

And the most amazing thing about this language is that, as the horses learn it, they can actually use it to talk to us, just as we can talk to them.

And when you can talk to your horse… ANYTHING is possible, including changing horse behaviour problems!

Amanda Martin is a horse behaviour specialist trained and experienced in understanding horse behaviour problems and how to uncover the cause.
She can help you in on-to-one live training sessions, online clicker training courses and clicker training groups and clinics.For help solving your horse behaviour problems contact Amanda.

Contact Amanda for more information on Clicker Training College (Online distance education) and Live Clicker Training Clinics.

More information on horse behaviour problems…
An Example of How Unwanted Horse Behaviours May be Learned