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Behaviour during tacking up

Find out from Sue Dyson why we should pay attention to horses’ behaviour during tacking up.

Find out from Sue Dyson why we should pay attention to horses’ behaviour during tacking up.

What does my horse’s behaviour during tacking up and mounting mean?

We should pay attention to our horses’ behaviour when tacking up and mounting because some of the things they do – things that perhaps seem normal – may indicate that they are in pain. This is the message from Sue Dyson who analysed the behaviour of almost 200 horses being prepared for ridden exercise.

Sue found that many behaviours that owners think are normal – or that they don’t even notice – may be related to lameness or badly fitting tack. The horse may fidget, chomp on the bit, toss its head, or swish its tail. Or maybe the horse yawns, sticks its tongue out, or rubs its nose. Is this normal? Or might it indicate a problem? Find out by watching the World Horse Welfare webinar ‘Tacking up: Being a pain or in pain?’ which features Sue discussing her recent research.

Why is my horse grumpy when being tacked up?

Sue recorded behaviours that may indicate pain, stress, anxiety, or aggression. In trying to find out what might be causing these behaviours, Sue found that lameness, poor saddle fit, and inappropriate rider size, position, and balance were common. She also discovered that lameness, back pain, and poor saddle fit were associated with abnormal behaviours during tacking up and mounting.

Sue’s take home message is that we should all learn how to listen to our horses, understand that behaviours we may think are normal may not be, and seek advice from saddle fitters or vets if a horse shows any signs of abnormal behaviour.

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