“I believe that responsible horse owners essentially ‘owe’ it to their horses to either reduce or manage stress wherever and whenever possible,” Dr. Camie Heleski, equitation science researcher and senior lecturer for U of Kentucky.
Obviously, there’s no way to eliminate stress in working with horses. The nature of horse training is that we’re pushing the horse out of its comfort zone. Avoiding equine stress fit’s with no one’s training program! But minimizing tension yields maximum learning – in horses and humans!
What’s equine stress? The physical/biological response when a horse perceives a “stressor” – a threat to its stability or well-being (homeostasis.)
Equine researchers say that if horse owners don’t pick up on or appreciate some subtle signs of equine stress and the situations which cause them, it can amount to a horse welfare issue. At most, affecting soundness and sanity. At least, affecting trainability – how easily a horse learns.
The cool thing is, thanks to horse research we can we recognize and quantify equine stress and identify stressors so we’re not just guessing.