Having a competitive horse with gate issues and anxiety can be challenging. But before you can start to combat that fear, you need to understand what causes that anxiety.
Read through our post to learn more about gate issues and what causes anxiety in horses. Our team at Vetline Equine is dedicated to providing you the latest in horse news. Shop our horse supplements online now!
Competitive Horses And Anxiety
Dealing with anxiety in a horse involved in any line of work can be challenging. That’s what makes it so important to learn how to identify anxiety and what tactics can help your horses find relief. Common signs of anxiety can include:
- Shaking or trembling
- Spooking or bolting
- Rolling eyes (you can see the whites of their eyes)
- Tense posture
- Backing themselves into a corner
If you see any of these signs, it’s possible that your horse might be dealing with some anxiety. The causes of that anxiety could stem from a number of things, including anxiety about separation, performance, a certain situation, boredom, a change in their environment, or due to EIPH.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
There are different things you can do, like hiring a skilled trainer or having a veterinarian rule out any medical conditions or pain. If your horse is younger, spend some time out at the barn getting to know them. Things like grooming your horse can help them feel calm. Some other ways to treat anxiety in horses includes:
- Give your horse a routine
- Work with a horse trainer
- Give your horse more exercise to get out any pent-up energy
- Make sure your horse’s tack sits comfortably on them
- Reduce the amount of changes you introduce to your horse
- Never punish your horse for anxiety — instead focus on rewarding positive or good behavior
- Rule out EIPH by having your Veterinarian scope them after intense exercise.
Ultimately, spend some time discovering the real reason behind their anxiety.
Understanding Gate Issues
For competitive horses specifically, gate issues can be a large problem. Like with anxiety, the most important thing is figuring out the root of the problem and how to address it.
There are different reasons that your horse could be experiencing gate anxiety. But it’s important to remember that the gate itself usually isn’t the problem.
Your horse might be resistant to go into the gate because they are physically hurting. When was the last time an equine veterinarian performed a full-body checkup?
If your horse has just started having issues at the gate, this is a good sign that your horse might be experiencing some type of pain, such as exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
If you notice that your horse is acting insecure or nervous, it might mean that any gate issues are a result of some deeper emotional issues. You can start to tackle these issues in the same way as you would tackle anxiety in horses.
If your horse is normally confident — or confident outside of the gate — this might be their way of challenging you. Take some time with your horse to see if they can follow your cues or commands.
But it’s also important to remember that stubbornness can also stem from fear. It’s important to make sure that your horse isn’t afraid of something when you’re trying to get them into the gate.
Some solutions to help with gate anxiety include:
- Schedule your horse for an exam with an equine sports veterinarian for a full checkup and scope.
- Mix up your exercising routine. Alternate from one fast session to other types of slow work.
- Test your horse to see if they’re having trouble with their education. Do they listen to your commands outside of the gate? Or do you need to brush up on your horse’s education? Work with your horse until they learn to listen to you.
- Hire a skilled trainer to work with you and discover the source of the problem.
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