Ways to Calm a Nervous Horse

February 02, 2022 2 min read

Nervous horses can make an uncomfortable situation dangerous with spooks, bucks, and other evasive behavior. Knowing your horse’s predispositions and having a general understanding of equine anxiety management will keep everyone safer.

Due to their prey-programming, horses see danger in many things. A fluttering bag or dark shadow could set off the fight or flight instinct.

Here are some tips for calming a nervous horse both immediately and over longer periods.

Establish boundaries

Like us, horses thrive with healthy boundaries. A simple boundary can be something like horses maintaining a 2-foot bubble around people. This boundary means in the event of a spook, a horse is less drawn to the people nearby. A horse with clear boundaries is more likely to be comfortable in its environment. They know what to expect, and what is expected of them.

 Become the leader and use your voice

Being a respected leader in your horses’ eyes is not often the first thing considered in horse ownership, but it is important. If your horse respects your body language and application of pressure you can deescalate nervous situations. Intentionally using your voice throughout training will not only teach your horse to recognize you but understand your tone. Calm, encouraging words will soothe a horse who is beginning to get nervous, while a firmer tone can get through to a horse that is already worked up.

 Keep things consistent and reasonable

As a leader, you have a responsibility to be consistent with your horse every day. Wide ranges in mood, energy, and intensity can be confusing for them, and fractious horses will struggle to decompress. In stressful situations, keep pressure and expectations reasonable. Firm, confident handling both on the ground and in the saddle will translate to your horse. Release pressure when your horse tries to be good – like placing one foot inside a new, scary trailer. Releasing will build trust and confidence, propelling them in the right direction. 

Move their feet

In nervous situations, a stuck horse is a scary horse. Moving their feet can take their mind off the scary situation and put it back on the rider. If walking past a threatening bush is NOT going to happen, side passing or backing by it might be. Using movement to diffuse nervous horses is commonly used at racetracks and horse sales. 

Change the circumstance

If a horse is struggling with a certain banner in the arena, choosing to change the circumstances instead press the subject more may be the best route. Instead of spurring your horse up to the banner, which only causes the banner to flutter and more chaos to ensue, see if a confident horse can march past the banner while you follow. If another horse isn’t available, lead your horse past the banner several times to increase their confidence enough to walk by under the saddle. Changing the scenario for the better can allow you to make progress in scary situations. Plus, every situation safely maneuvered builds confidence for everyone involved.

BeneFab’s far-infrared and magnet technology promotes healing and relaxation in horses. Include BeneFab products such as the Smart Poll Pad in your everyday routine to decrease anxiety and promote circulation in the poll.

Also in Blog

How Long Can a Horse Go Without Water?
How Long Can a Horse Go Without Water?

February 23, 2024 2 min read

Horses are large mammals that require a lot of water to survive. A horse’s body is made up of almost 70% water. Horses lose water through sweat, urination, and other bodily functions. A horse should consume 0.5 gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight daily. Horses can also gain water from feed. Hay and grass contain 10-15% water. However, grains have almost no water.
What is the Importance of Maintaining a Neutral Posture?
What is the Importance of Maintaining a Neutral Posture?

February 16, 2024 2 min read

Sufferers of back pain have probably heard of the benefits of neutral posture. However, it might be a new term if you just recently noticed some back pain or tension. A neutral posture means positioning your body so it is aligned and balanced, regardless of whether you are sitting or standing.
Fetlock Injuries in Horses: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Recovery
Fetlock Injuries in Horses: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Recovery

February 09, 2024 3 min read

The fetlock is a hinge-like joint that connects the cannon bone and pastern in horses. It’s a crucial joint for horses’ mobility and performance. Unfortunately, this important joint is susceptible to various injuries that can range from mild to severe