It's Spooky Season! Common Things That Frighten Horses and How to Handle Them Safely

Horses are prey animals which means they have a natural fight or flight response. However, some horses are jumpier than others, and a variety of things can frighten or startle them. For example, some horses get anxious when new items, like toys, are added to their stables, others might startle easily when a bird flies away on a trail. They might fear being touched, eating out of a bucket, riding in a trailer, or receiving veterinary care. These are anxious horses, and to understand how you can calm your horse’s fear, you first have to understand what’s causing it.

Why Is Your Horse So Anxious?

A horse could be anxious for several reasons including:
In addition to these possible reasons why a horse might be spooking easily, some horses are simply born more anxious than others. These horses will require additional training time and benefit from working with confident handlers and riders.

What to Do If Your Horse Is Anxious

If you have an anxious horse on your hands, take the following steps to calm them safely:
The first step should always be to rule out underlying conditions or issues that could be causing pain, discomfort, or vision problems and heightening your horse’s anxiety.

Keep Yourself Calm and Don't Overreact When Your Horse Does

Your calm demeanor will help to calm your horse.

Work on Desensitization Training

Work with an experienced professional to slowly expose your horse to things that frighten him until he gets comfortable.

Train the Horse to Focus on You

If your horse knows to focus on you, he’ll be less likely to get distracted and frightened by other things.

Keep Your Horse With Calm Horses

If possible, allow your horse to socialize more frequently with calm and confident horses. Your horse will start to take behavior cues from these horses and learn to be calm and more confident.

Keep Your Horse Healthy and Fit With Our Equine Veterinarians in Fishkill, NY

A calm horse is a happy horse. A healthy and fit horse is also a happy horse! We encourage you to continue your horse’s ongoing veterinary care with our experienced equine veterinarians at Advanced Equine of the Hudson Valley. We provide comprehensive equine veterinary care services and treatments and look forward to helping your horse be the best it can be. To learn more or schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact our office today.