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Socializing Your Horse

Your horse’s socialization is a huge part of who they are and how they behave. Horses are, by nature, a herd animal. They only feel comfortable when around others. This does not have to mean other horses; this could be other animals or trusted humans as well. The socialization of your horse is important to not only their happiness, but their proper behavior. A horse that is properly socialized will be comfortable in its surroundings. If this is done properly, it will minimize or eliminate behavior issues and make your time with your horse more enjoyable.

Stables and fences are completely opposite a horse’s genetic design, yet we want them to live in this situation happily and without qualms. We are comfortable in a world of walls and borders. We are usually comfortable having our area mapped with fences, but horses are designed for the open. They have a fight or flight instinct that causes them to constantly be on the lookout for the quickest escape route. We need to find ways to eliminate the stress of this situation and make the horse comfortable in his surroundings without stifling his innate instincts.

Horses like large, open areas where they can see for long distances. First, keep stable clutter to a minimum. This will help keep the horse out of danger. If possible, have your horse in a large stable, possibly with a run attached. The more room your horse has, the more comfortable he will be. Also, if possible, have screen or pipe between the horse stalls so the horses can see each other. Horses live in a hierarchal, herd society. They will behave best and feel most comfortable when allowed to socialize with their herd.

You must also spend time with your horse so he sees you as part of his herd. You must not just be seen as part of the herd, but the alpha of the herd. You must be in charge. It is important to take measures to make him comfortable, but never forget that you must convey who is in charge of your herd.

Remember, the socialization your horse has with other horses and animals is important, but so is the socialization your horse has with you. Your horse and you must build a solid bond for this relationship to work. Spend time with your horse. Watch his cues and pay attention to your body language; it speaks volumes.

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