I’m reading a very interesting book at the moment; How to think like a horse. The most interesting fact is that the author seems to think like me!
The most useful part of the book is the chapters about why horses get scared ad why they have problems about adapting to the life in a modern stable.
I couldn’t agree more to the part about boxes. I personally hate seeing horses put away in boxes. I see it like a way to store horses so they don’t occupy too much space!
It’s like the owner is thinking; this is a big animal and we need to make it stand still and be safely stored until next time we need it!
But what does the horse need? Do you think about that? This book describes all the bad habits the horses might develop during their time in a box.
Horses are very claustrophobic creatures and they’re made for open spaces. If they find themselves in a tiny and closed place, they will freak out.
If your horse is kicking into the wall, scratching his tail, swalloving air or waving his head continuously, then it’s time you reconsider the idea about where you’re “storing” him!
I’ve been trying to explain this to different horse owners so many times, but I often end up discovering that nobody cares about what I’m saying.
It’s like a rule among humans that we can do whatever we want with our animals, as long it’s practical and covering our own needs.
Luckily I’ve made some friends that are totally agreeing with me lately. They’re giving me the strength I needed to continue to be around horses. I must say that I’ve never had this problem before moving to Italy.
The Norwegian mentality
In Norway we are more down to earth and closer to the nature. We normally keep the horses in open spaces and treat them in a more natural way. We remember that they’re animals with their own needs.
We often let them run and play together, even if they’re expensive arabs or trotter horses. But this is most common in private stables. If you go to a Norwegian equestrian center I’ll guess you’ll find most of them stored in a box! At least we have a rule where they get a minimum of 2 hours inside a paddock every day…
My neighbors in Norway keep their competition horses all together in big paddocks in a natural way. I love the sight of horses playing around when I go back home! Yes, we do have a lot of space in Norway. But it’s more about the mentality.
I really hope that my mentality will inspire others in the land I live today. I will fight for every horse I meet on my way, even if the whole horse world seems to be against me!
An open solution
My horse is living in a paddock with a roof. She is gladly sleeping under the roof, but she also knows that she’s not closed inside against her own will.
When I put her in the small box I’ve made at home she seems so nervous. But if I tie her to a tree, she stays still for hours. She actually prefers being tied up outside than being inside a box. This just reminds me about how much they hate to be closed inside small places.
A natural environment
It’s so easy to create a more natural environment. Let the horses live together in big paddocks with an open shelter. Then they’re able to socialize, play, eat and sleep in a relaxing way. You’ll also discover that the horse will be more well behaved, less nervous and easier to handle. As a bonus you’ll also be able to keep it barefoot! Am I exaggerating??
Well, you might start with making a small paddock with an open stable/roof. Then you’ll see how it works and keep evolving the situation. Don’t keep your horse alone, keep at least one animal close to him.