Intelligent Horsemanship and Equine Behavioral Medicine

Understanding Equine Behavioral Medicine: Improving Horse Behavior and Well-being

What is Equine Behavioral Medicine?

Equine Behavioral Medicine is the latest buzzword and it’s claiming to be ‘a specialized field of veterinary medicine that focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of behavior problems in horses’.

Intelligent Horsemanship has been involved in the understanding and addressing of the psychological, emotional, and social aspects of horse behavior for some 30 years… So it’s not so new to us – although the expression ‘equine behaviour MEDICINE’ may be confusing to some (it certainly was to me) as the ‘medicine’ word seems to indicate equine drugs of some kind, and which you’d then assume can only be administered by a vet.

“Horses, like other animals, can exhibit various behavior issues that can be harmful to themselves, as well as to the safety of handlers and riders. These behavior problems can arise from a range of factors, including genetics, environment, training methods, health issues, or past traumatic experiences”

“Equine Behavioral Medicine aims to combine principles from ‘veterinary medicine, psychology, and animal behavior science’ to assess, diagnose, and manage behavioral problems in horses. It aims are to identify the underlying causes of behavioral issues and develop appropriate treatment plans to address them.  But is this just reinventing the wheel?  Isn’t this what Intelligent Horsemanship has been working on for the last 25 odd years?.

Common Behavioral Problems in Horses

I quote: Some common behavioral problems in horses that equine behavioral medicine professionals deal with (Who are these people? How long have they been in existence?) include:

  1. Aggression: Aggressive behaviors such as biting, kicking, or charging can be dangerous and disruptive.
  2. Fear and anxiety; Horses may exhibit fear or anxiety in response to specific stimuli Such as unfamiliar objects, loud noises, or certain handling procedures.
  3. Stereotypic behaviors; These are repetitive and non-functional behaviors, such as cribbing, weaving, or stall walking, which can be indicative of stress or boredom.
  4. Under-saddle issues: Horses may display resistance, disobedience, or performance problems under saddle. Which can stem from physical discomfort, poor training techniques, or behavioral issues.”

Yes, this is just what Intelligent Horsemanship and experienced horse trainers have worked on for years. But will these practised now become vet exclusive?  As you have dog behaviourists who qualify purely in an academic sense and we’ve had horse behaviourists who have been academically trained by a specialist in rabbits.

Equine Behavioral Medicine Professionals and their Treatment of Behavioral Issues in Horses

Again I quote “Equine behavioral medicine professionals typically employ a comprehensive approach to evaluate and manage these problems. This may involve a thorough physical examination, assessment of the horse’s environment, observation of their behavior in various contexts, reviewing training and management practices, and potentially utilizing diagnostic tests to rule out underlying medical conditions”

“Treatment plans for behavioral issues in horses may include behavior modification techniques, environmental modifications, training adjustments, nutritional changes, and, in some cases, medications. Professionals in this field also play a crucial role in educating horse owners, trainers, and handlers about proper horse care, handling techniques, and prevention of behavioral problems”.

Evolution and Ongoing Research

“Equine Behavioral Medicine is an evolving field, and ongoing research is conducted to better understand equine behavior, cognition, and the most effective methods for managing behavioral issues in horses”

Want to Learn More About Equine Behavioural Psychology?

This is such an evolving field that there seems only one expensive book on this subject but I’d suggest if you’re not a vet but would to like to learn the principles of Equine Behavioural Medicine you book on to one of our excellent Intelligent Horsemanship courses.  Such as our Online Horse Psychology course and/or our Five Day Foundation course

Or check out your local Intelligent Horsemanship local trainer here

Bearing in mind that I am, of course, biased!

Kelly Marks

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