Easy-to-frighten horses are skittish and can be difficult to work with. But if something in the environment is scaring your horse, there are ways to help your horse be more calm.
Researchers tested three different methods to find out which was the most effective.
The Fear Stimulus: A white nylon bag.
This research used a white nylon bag that was able to be moved along a line. This was found to be universally uncomfortable for horses, and provided a good test stimulus.
The Habituation Method
Horses were exposed to the nylon bag repeatedly until they had become more calm.
The Desensitization Method
Horses were gradually exposed to the nylon bag. The first stage was much less intense than later stages and horses only moved onto the next stage when they were totally comfortable with the current stage.
The Counter-Conditioning Method
Horses were given food rewards every time the nylon bag appeared. This intends to build up a positive association that overcomes the negative association of the fear response.
Most effective method: Desensitization
The desensitisation method was the only method that worked for all participating horses. It was the most effective, longest-lasting and fastest process.
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10 Most Famous Horses In History
Figure The Morgan Horse
Figure was a small bay stallion who had remarkable attributes of being strong, fast and having a beautiful way of moving. He gained fame for having the abilities of a workhorse and the speed of a racehorse. This fame was heightened due to his offspring carrying these talents also. Thus, the Morgan Horse lineage was born.
Copenhagen was a thoroughbred and Arabian stock and gained fame for carrying the Duke of Wellington for 17 hours in the Battle of Waterloo. When Copenhagen died one of his hooves was cut off as a souvenir, the Duke was extremely angry and the stolen hoof was found later and returned to him. The Duke’s son turned the hoof into an ink stand.
In the same battle except on the other side, Marengo carried Napoleon Bonaparte on his back. Marengo was a small grey Arabian horse, he was captured and taken to Britain until his death. His skeleton is preserved in the Imperial War Magazine in London.
Comanche was a brave war horse and is known as the only survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn. Due to being wounded 12 times in different battles but persevering through all of them he was named ‘Comanche’ as a way to honor his bravery and steadfastness.
Godolphon is first heard of in history when he was given to King Louis XV of France as a diplomatic gift. However the stallion did not find favour in the King’s eyes and was given away. He was the sire of several outstanding race horses, and his genetic impression on thoroughbred horses lives on even today.
Seabiscuit is the most popular film about a horse ever, telling the story about the stallion with little potential for racing despite his great ancestors. He finally found his stride due to persistent trainers and won huge races.
Bucephalus is known to be a huge black stallion that was untamed until Alexander the Great took him in his hands. The skittish horse was finally quietened when Alexander turned him towards the sun, thus hiding his shadow which was the reason for his fears. Bucephalus was Alexander’s favourite horse throughout his kingship.
Sargent Reckless was a brave mare during the Korean war who was undeterred by enemy fire and dangerous conditions, would carry ammunition and wounded soldiers by herself. She was given a collection of war medals including 2 purple hearts and was retired with full military honours.
Beautiful Jim Key
Beautiful Jim Key was a horse performer and was known to be the smartest horse in the world. He could count and do math and spell words by selecting letters from an alphabet.
One of the most famous tv horses was Trigger, a palomino stallion appeared in 81 of Roy Roger’s staring movies and all 100 of his TV episodes. He was taxidermied after his death and sold in 2010 for $266,000.
Are Your Fruit Trees Dangerous To Horses?
A look at 9 common backyard trees and their effect on equestrian health.
Commonplace fruit trees can have negative effects on your horse’s health. Most often, your horse will be fine. They’re resilient animals and unless they eat a huge amount of fruit, there’s nothing wrong with a horse having access to an orchid. However, there are some fruit trees that are more dangerous than others and should be separated from horses as a precaution.
The other thing to consider is yourself! You might want some of those tasty apples before the horse gets to them all.
Apple trees pose no threat. Despite the seeds having a low level of toxicity, it’s almost impossible for a horse to eat enough to make itself sick.
Danger level: None.
Figs have latex in their sap when unripe, which can irritate skin. Fig trees produce a lot of sap, but otherwise pose no threat to horses.
In fact, because of the figs high sugar and omega content, it can be a great treat for your horse.
Danger level: Very low.
Orange & Lemons
Citrus is fine for a horse to eat, and is often an ingredient in livestock foods. It’s possible that the oil from citrus fruits will irritate your horse’s skin or eyes, but that’s rare.
It is possible for your horse to hurt itself on thorns when trying to reach leaves.
Danger level: Very low.
Loquats can cause some digestive problems if the seeds or leaves are eaten. This usually only happens if a large amount is consumed.
Danger level: Low.
Acorns aren’t particularly dangerous to horse unless they overeat them. It can cause colic (abdominal pain) at large quantities. Because horses are known for developing a liking for acorns, overeating is possible but doesn’t pose a long term health-threat.
Danger level: Medium – low.
Plum & Cherry Trees
Plum and sherry trees can produce a small amount of cyanide in the horse’s blood stream when digested. This usually doesn’t occur at a dangerous level, but if your horse has access to a lot of these trees, you might have reason for concern.
Poisoning results in problems with oxygen uptake, which will cause laboured breathing and lethargy.
Danger level: Medium.
Black Walnut Tree
The wood of the black walnut tree can cause laminitis (inflammation under the hoof) in horses. However, this is less of an ingestion problem, and more likely occurs it walnut shavings are found in bedding or sawdust.
Having a tree in close proximity to a horse is not a problem unless the horse is chewing the bark.
Danger level: Medium.
Red Maple Tree
These plants are uncommon in Australia, but fallen leaves can cause problem for horses. Eating them can burst red blood cells and damage the kidney. It is best to avoid having your horse near a red maple tree.
Danger level: High.
Avocados have a compound in them called persin. This is found in the fruit and the leaves and is extremely unhealthy for horses, causing swelling and potential death.
Horses should avoid avocado trees at all costs. And part of the tree or fruit are dangerous.
Danger level: Very high.