Defining Horse Separation Anxiety
By definition, separation anxiety is a disorder in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment. Horses are prey animals that feel more comfortable in herds instead of by themselves. Therefore, horses can experience separation anxiety from its herd. Most horses have some level of separation anxiety. In cases of mild anxiety, the situation rarely becomes more than a slight inconvenience. However, there are cases in which a horse is so bound to its herd that the separation anxiety is a serious issue. These cases are very dangerous for not only the rider but the horse as well.
Horses have been herd animals for hundreds of years. Because of this native behavior, it is common for your horse to feel safest when it is with a herd. Separation anxiety is also common. However, there are ways to change a reaction that is caused by your horse’s survival instinct. First, you will need to build a bond that is based on mutual trust and respect. You will also need to help your horse build confidence. Your horse needs to know that it is safe in your care.
Building that trust will start with pushing your horse around a round pen or on a lunge line. This then extends to everything you do with your horse when you are not riding. This includes grooming, hand walking, and just hanging out in the paddock. Every moment counts towards this conditioning. How you behave, what you ask your horse to do, and how you speak to it will establish whether or not your horse feels safe with you. Remember, trust and feeling safe cannot come when force or fear are used. Follow the link for 5 steps on how to reducing horse separation anxiety. For more information contact Colorado Horse Property today.