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Understanding Your Horse's Behavior: Is It a Problem or Pain?

What is Your Horse Communicating?

As a horse owner, it's crucial to know what your horse is communicating.

Sometimes, you may notice unusual behavior in your equine companion, leaving you wondering whether it's a behavioral problem or a sign of physical pain.

Unfortunately, horses can't speak to express their discomfort, so it's important to decode their behavioral cues to avoid misinterpreting their pain as disobedience or behavioral problems.

In this blog, we'll discuss the differences between behavior problems and pain symptoms in horses, and helpful ways to distinguish between them.

Evaluate the Horse's General Behavior

General horse behavior may have an effect on identifying if the horse is in overall pain, discomfort, or anxious.

It is best to observe your horse's behavior for several days before concluding that it has a behavioral issue or a problem of pain.

Also, pay close attention to signs of anxiety or distress, check for specific pain-related symptoms.

This would look like standing still, abrupt movements, shifting from leg to leg, sweating, or twitching.


Understanding Your Horse's Behavior: Is It a Problem or Pain? - Tip 1

Horses experience pain in varying manners that can mimic behavior or training issues. 

Horses that bore pain in their digestive tract, backs, the poll (the point immediately behind or right between the ears), and hooves commonly display: 

  • Excessive pawing
  • Grinding teeth
  • Rubbing their head on any surface
  • Tail-swishing
  • Head-tossing
  • or gulping when eating

These activities can be an indication of ulcers, colic, saddle pain, and other discomfort.

Understanding Your Horse's Behavior: Is It a Problem or Pain? - Tip 2

Look at the Interaction with Other Horses

Knowing how your horse interacts with other horses in the stable and pasture can reveal some pain symptoms.

Painful horses may act aggressively or be more antagonistic with the dominants, and it may also be less interested in joining the pack in play or stable activities.

Hiring a Veterinary Specialist

When you are uncertain of the cause of a horse's behavioral issues, hiring a veterinarian should be an option to consider.

A veterinarian can diagnose medical conditions that cause pain in horses, like colic, ulcers, arthritis, laminitis, and many more.

If the veterinarian is satisfied that the horse isn't suffering from an injury or a medical condition; then you should consider finding an equine professional that can offer behavior training tips.

Training and Behavioral Management

If the horse isn't in pain, then training and behavioral management can be done.

This may vary depending on the behavior issue, but it's often helpful to consult with a horse trainer experienced in managing certain issues

Like stall-bound horses, fear of apparatuses or people, biting, kicking, or bucking too early.

So Now What?

Only a few horses act out without any underlying medical cause.

Your horse is not being disobedient, but instead, it's trying to communicate physical distress or discomfort.

If you have any doubts about your horse's behavior, ensure you call your veterinarian and when it comes to training and behavioral management,

A horse trainer can give suggestions on the most effective methods to manage behavior issues.

With the combination of proper medical care and adequate training management,

Your horse can reestablish confidence and trust in you and start feeling and acting a lot better.

We would love to hear from you!

Leave us a comment with your go to products you use to help with your horses pain. 

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