top of page

Observing Your Horse: A Guide to Recognizing Normal Behavior and Potential Health Issues

As horse owners, our furry companions don't always communicate their well-being through words. Understanding what is 'normal' for your horse is essential to catch subtle deviations that might signal emerging discomfort, illness, or social problems. It is crucial to understand the importance of regular observations and the key aspects of your horse's behaviour that warrant attention.

1. Understanding Normal Behaviour:

Knowing what behaviour is 'normal' for your horse lays the foundation for proactive care. Assessing factors like dominance, social interactions, playfulness, and sleeping patterns provides insights into their overall well-being. Additionally, observing eating habits, water intake, and potential activities like eating sand or digging holes contributes to a comprehensive understanding of your horse's baseline behaviour.

2. Herd Behaviour:

A horse's interactions within the herd serve as a significant indicator of its emotional state. Healthy social relationships manifest through activities such as grazing, playing, and standing together. Sudden isolation may signal discomfort, pain, fatigue, or behavioural issues. Pay attention to signs like lethargy or hyperactivity, which can further indicate underlying concerns.

3. Stallion Behaviour:

In mixed herds, particularly during early spring, the impact of sex hormones on behaviour becomes evident. Stallions may exhibit heightened hormonal activity, affecting mares and even geldings. Recognizing these changes is crucial, as severe symptoms can lead to various issues. Consider hormonal treatments or herbal supplements, like monk's pepper, to regulate hormone levels and maintain a healthy hormonal cycle.

4. Eating Behaviour:

Vigilance towards your horse's eating behaviour unveils important insights. Eagerness or reluctance to eat may indicate issues such as insufficient belly filling, dental problems, or age-related challenges. Sudden changes in eating patterns may signal dental problems, mild colic, or gastrointestinal issues.

5. Manure Inspection:

Regularly checking your horse's manure provides valuable information about its digestive health. Firm, non-bone-dry balls are ideal. Soft manure, the presence of worms, sand, or diarrhea can signify intestinal issues requiring attention.

6. Sand Ingestion:

Horses licking or digging in sand may indicate boredom or, potentially, underlying problems such as mineral deficiencies or stomach ulcers. Observing this behaviour prompts further investigation into potential health issues.

7. Water Needs and Drinking Behaviour:

Monitoring your horse's water intake is crucial, and changes in drinking behaviour may be indicative of health issues. Dark or brown urine suggests dehydration, liver problems, or kidney disease. During hot weather or strenuous activities, offering flavoured water or electrolytes encourages hydration and salt replenishment.

Regular observations of your horse's behaviour provide a window into their well-being. By understanding what is 'normal' for your equine companion, you equip yourself to detect early signs of discomfort or illness. This proactive approach to care ensures a happy and healthy life for your beloved horse.

*The information in this article is sourced from AskHeltie, a valuable resource for equine care and well-being.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Ensuring the Well-Being of Your Equine Companion

As horse owners, the well-being of our four-legged friends is a top priority. The significance of horse welfare is gaining recognition not only among equestrian enthusiasts, but also within regulatory


bottom of page