Why Challenging Behaviour Could Be a Sign of Injury or Illness in Horses

Challenging behaviour in horses can be a sign of discomfort and there is always the possibility that your horse is trying to let you know that it is in pain, which is why it’s important to understand the difference between discomfort and disobedience.

Learn how to understand your horse

The Society of Equine Behaviour Consultants (SEBC) advises that “misbehaviour due to fear, pain or physical problems can be dangerous and may cause serious injury to the people involved with the horse or others.”

You must to learn how to “read” your horse in order to be able to diagnose signs of injury or illness.

Signs to look for

Signs of aggression are usually an indication that something is wrong. If your animal suddenly starts kicking its hind legs then you should take notice.

Kicking with forelegs is more likely to be a display of disobedience. In both cases the problem needs to be solved. If your horse’s problems are due to mismanagement or bad training, you may need to consider re-training.

Of course, if you suspect that your horse might be ill you should contact your local vet immediately. If your horse suddenly becomes more difficult to ride or is constantly misbehaving then it is a sign that they may be in pain or discomfort of some kind. 

How a healthy environment helps your horse

If you keep your horse in a calm environment, with companions, then you can often rule out challenging behaviour as a sign of your horse’s natural instincts. Topping up its diet with horse supplements can also ensure the health and vitality of your horse.

If your animal starts to chew and lick excessively, it’s telling you that it could have a dry mouth which is a sign of anxiety. This could be caused by illness or stress so you need to obtain diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to avoid further problems.

Acting out can be an indicator of injury or illness

In common with humans, even the calmest of horses are prone to misbehave when they’re in pain. If your horse constantly misbehaves and develops signs of challenging behaviour this is the time to examine your horse and see if there are any other symptoms of illness. Sweat is a good indicator of an underlying illness so watch out for cold or patchy sweats.

If your horse tends to bolts, the SEBC says that “this is nearly always a sign of genuine fear, pain or a physical problem.” This behaviour cannot only harm your horse but also any riders or onlookers who happen to be around at the time.

Keep an eye on your horse’s behaviour and ensure that any sudden changes are investigated by a vet to ensure top health at all times.

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