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Helping Horses That are Sensitive to Storms

Increasing the 'positive' and 'good' experiences a horse receives can be one step to take in alleviating future fears.
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Determine how your horses react to weather conditions to ensure you have them in a safe place during stressful weather.

Horses that are upset by lots of different things are usually telling us something about their personality, according to Lisa Rakes, Captain of the Kentucky Horse Park mounted police. Rakes is one of the most decorated mounted police officers in the country, having trained the top-ranked Lexington Mounted Police unit horses and riders as the unit's in-house trainer before taking over the Kentucky Horse Park mounted unit.

Rakes said some horses might be more fearful than other horses because of an experience before your ownership, or the horse developed some bad habits due to inexperience or poor training. Oftentimes, these issues are intertwined.

“The more positive and good experiences you can put into the horse, the more the bad experiences will be pushed to the back,” she said. “Horses will never forget, but we can try to create more positive experiences for the horse to remember back on rather than negative ones.”

Unfortunately, there is no way to control Mother Nature.

Some horses are content to graze in wind, hail, snow and rain, while others make a beeline for shelter or run anxiously. Observe how your horse reacts to determine if he will feel more comfortable in a stall or outside. If he runs panic-stricken and poses a danger to himself, it’s best to bring him in. Others feel trapped in a stall. And still some horses can be happy in either scenario. It’s truly about getting to know how your horse reacts.

At least with dogs, there is the option to try compression wraps and calming supplements. Neither remedy is an option for horses. 

Over time creating “good” storm experiences can help horses become less anxious.

If you bring your horse in try:

  • Playing music
  • Tuning in to talk radio
  • Leaving the lights on to absorb flashes of lightning
  • Stalling a calm buddy nearby

After any storm, walk the fences to check for any damage, down branches or other debris from the storm to avoid potential injuries. And remember if your horse is truly scared, it is not a punishable offense. Help him feel as secure in his surrounds as possible.

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