السبت 22 يونيو 2024

How to Deal with Tension in Horses

موقع أيام نيوز

Tension in horses can lead to all kinds of problems and hinder their ability to learn. Some horses are so tense and stiff that they are incapable of certain maneuvers. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, which in turn leads to increased tension.

Tension can come in many forms: physical stiffness in the body, choppy, reactive movement, or explosive behaviour.

Before dealing with any tension, I try to understand the cause. A horse’s age, maturity, confidence, fitness, and the level and quality of his training can all play a part.

Tension can also be caused by too much work, not enough warm up, poor fitting equipment, unsoundness, and pain. While I may not be able to pinpoint a specific cause, I can gain insight by taking these things under consideration.

I try to deal with any mental tension first. Removing fear, establishing authority, and sharing responsibility with the horse helps him understand what is expected of him and shows him where to look for comfort when he gets upset. When the horse knows that he has some control over his fear, and that he can look to the rider or handler to release pressure, he is much more inclined to relax. Once the horse is in a less stressed frame of mind I can reevaluate his physical tension

With a green or untrained horse, I begin by evaluating cadence, headset, reactiveness, and the general state of his body while he is loose. If the horse has nice rhythmic movement at the walk and trot and he carries his head comfortably I will look to see how he bends his body. Is he over-bending, is he counter-bending, or does he bob his head?

If so, I can deal with these physical things in hand or on the lunge line. If the horse is calm but has a hard time responding comfortably or smoothly to a request for a transition, or if his speed is erratic, more time may be required to comfort him and deal with his mental tension before we can proceed to the physical tension.

If I suspect that the tension is the result of past events such as a bad training experience or frustration from the rider, I deal with that situation before I look to fix things through physical mechanics.

If the horse has built up anxiety that is only expressed in a specific situation, I will simulate that situation so I can help the horse resolve his anxiety. Often, the horse will anticipate confusion because he has experienced a lack of clarity from his handler.