The Herdword web site would not be complete without a section devoted to horse welfare.
The welfare of the horse spans a number of areas: mistreatment, abuse, neglect and so on. However, these are areas of which all horse-lovers are aware.
The one area that is not generally recognised is that of the trauma and confusion that is caused to many horses by inappropriate methods of training, managing and even riding techniques.
The horse naturally understands pressure but the pressure he comprehends is the one that he is programmed to believe enables him to survive. This pressure can be seen practiced in the wild herd as well as in domestic groups but there's more to these behaviours than meets the eye. Unfortunately, the reality of herd dynamics is frequently misunderstood.
The inappropriate use of imitated herd pressure can result in confused and dangerous horses. Conversely, lack of appropriate pressure can cause the horse to feel insecure and assume a level of leadership for himself, that can put his trainer or owner very much on the back foot. These horses are then termed 'naughty'.
Additionally, quite unwittingly, trainers and riders apply types of pressure to the horse that he does not and cannot understand. Pressures of time for example or perhaps the fulfilment of competitive goals.
The application of inappropriate pressure can and does cause serious problems. These are problems that the horse himself cannot explain to us in any way except by the manner in which he behaves. His inability to cope with pressure is often a major cause of unwanted behavioural change.
The horse is not a toy neither is he a machine. He is a living, breathing, feeling, highly sensitive individual.
In defence of the horse, we make every endeavour to educate students and visitors about the importance of the way the horse is managed.