The reason your Horse’s Behaviour has Changed
6 Reasons your Horses’ Behaviour Changed: Whether your horse has started misbehaving under saddle, become aggressive on the ground or simply doesn’t seem like his usual self, a change in behaviour shouldn’t be ignored.
With either sudden or gradual changes to your horse’s behaviour, the best option is to get them fully checked over. This means having their feet, back and teeth checked, as well as getting them checked over by a physio to make sure there’s no underlying pain. If the physio can’t find anything and the behaviour persists, it might be worth getting in touch with your vet.
Wondering why your horse seems to be going through a difficult phase? It’s actually very unlikely that they are just being naughty, and recognising why your horse’s behaviour has changed is the first step towards getting him back to his usual self.
Why your horses’ behavoiur may have changed
Gastric ulcers is a common cause of a change in behaviour. Your horse may become difficult when ridden, both unwilling to perform and not wanting to go forward. This isn’t them being naughty, and is instead due to acid splashing around their stomach which can be extremely painful. They may also demonstrate signs of discomfort or aggression when you groom, tack up or change their rugs.
Ill Fitting Tack
The fit of your saddle is hugely important and many people don’t realise how quickly their horses can change shape. If your horse has been on a rigorous muscle building plan and shows a change in behaviour under saddle, his saddle may longer fit and continuing to ride in it can cause long term damage.
Saddle fit should be your first port of call when you start to notice a change in behaviour when ridden. Even something as seemingly small as no longer standing still to be mounted can be a sign of ill fitting tack, and look out for signs of tension while tacking up.
Change in Horse Behaviour – Hormones
Your mare’s hormones can lead to huge changes in behaviour, and if the behavioural changes seem relatively consistent and occur as the weather gets warmer, this is the most likely cause. In early spring, you may find your mare to be moody, anxious or sharper under saddle. By the summer, her cycles should be more regular, every 3 weeks which will allow you to predict when the tricky behaviour is on its way. If you are struggling to manage your mare during her seasons, get in touch with your vet.
Change in Weather
Does your usually calm horse suddenly seem a little rattled? Often, it’s something as minor as a drop in temperature! Icy cold mornings can bring a little spring into your horse’s step and you might find them to be sharper in the colder months. Strong winds can also make horses much spookier. So if your horse every so often seems a little sharper or spookier, it’s worth working out whether it could be weather-related.
Change in Routine
Even the calmest and steadiest of horses can lose their marbles when their routine is suddenly disrupted. Moving your horse to another yard, changing their management in terms of hours of turnout or even adjusting their feeding times can make a horse very anxious which can lead to behavioural changes. It can take a sensitive horse up to 6 months to settle into a new routine, so try not to worry if they seem a little on edge after a big adjustment.
Change in Feed
Finally, there is a change in their feed. If you have recently upped the amount of hard feed your horse gets, or made other changes to their diet such as added more oil or sugar, you may find the increase in energy causes behavioural changes. If your horse is getting more calories and seems to have a massive increase in energy, up their amount of turnout if possible. If you’ve recently cut down your horse’s hard feed and they’ve gotten lazier, this could be due to the decrease in calories.