mental health in horses

There’s an obvious, real mental component to the healing of horses. For example, the horse has a need for companionship, movement, and an outdoor life. These are all important aspects of keeping a horse happy, translating to faster healing times and hopefully, recovery without the formation of bad habits such as weaving and cribbing.

JMO but all animals are at risk of depression and despair when dealing with a long term illness or recovery. Perhaps even more so then humans once these moods set in, they can start a dangerous downward spiral that results in the animal giving up and ends in a sudden, perhaps even unexpected, death.

Making a horse content with companions, movement etc.. also carry the risk of further injury. A horse playing with another even through a fence could do harm to himself. It’s a balance that sometimes we simply can’t provide… or when provided, in retrospect, we realize was a mistake.

With Big Guy still on stall/paddock rest, it’s becoming obvious how fed up with this situation he is getting. Trying to balance his new level of Feel-Good (but really you aren’t good) with rest is going to need my intervention.

When we got to the barn, it was obvious that Big Guy was restless. He ate his 2# of carrots but kept following us about while we mucked out his stall and paddock. Even during his quick groom he was just wanted to move about in a curious, “I’m so bored” way.

I decided to try to take him out and see how well he did…  At first he pulled me along and I was afraid his enthusiasm was getting the best of him, but then he settled down and we ended up circling his shed for a 15 minute, hand grazing walk. AWESOME!


Afterwards, I put out some hay for him and allowed Little Girl to come over to his side of the pasture and share. They both were happy to see each other but overall quiet in their interaction. I was very pleased that LG behaved herself and didn’t try to get him all excited.

He’s coming along…

This entry was posted in Horse care, horse with pelvis fracture, Tristan and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to mental health in horses

  1. You make a lot of very valid points here. So few people consider this. Does he have any toys in his stall?
    This is a situation where touch is very valuable. Massage and TTouch can help a lot with this. I was often called in to work with horses on stall rest when they became unhappy and fractious. I think the time to do that is before they get unhappy. A good massage every day, and some TTouch work targeted at the problem are will go a long way toward alleviating the boredom, the pain, and the mental stress of the waiting.
    I have a phone conversation today that will give me some definitive answers to which TTouches and what TTEAM exercises will be the most beneficial in Big Guy’s care at this point. I will pass the info on as soon as I get it.

  2. horseideology says:

    Thanks ENH – there is no rush. It’s been a hectic week for me and I’m switching schedules. Hopefully, I’ll have plenty of time to be with him this Saturday.

  3. I’m doing a training today, and will have access to a lot of people with way more experience than I have. I should get a lot of ideas today.

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