Poor Manners In-Hand Lead To Poor Behavior While Ridden, Study Shows

Horses that are dangerous under saddle show several in-hand clues about how they will act when ridden. Horse owners and riders should be aware of these behaviors so they are prepared for what the horse might do with a rider astride, report Drs. Nicole Romness, Kate Fenner, Jessica McKenzie, Ashley Anzulewicz, Bibiana Burattini, Bethany Wilson and Paul McGreevy.

The research team used 1,584 responses by horse owners to the Equine Behavior Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) to come to their conclusions. E-BARQ is a global database of horse behavior that allows riders to benchmark their horses against thousands of others in terms of welfare, training and behavior.

The scientists found that bolting, bucking and rearing are dangerously common; nearly 91 percent of pleasure horses in Britain had one or more of these tendencies, E-BARQ responders showed. These tendencies can reflect on a horse’s experiences, health or history, the team said.

They found that:

  • Horses that have issues loading onto a trailer, spook at other animals or don’t lead or tie well tend to bolt.
  • Horses that have issues loading, are intimidated by other horses and don’t tie well tend to rear.
  • Horses that have issues loading, spook at other horses, don’t lead or tie well and that don’t like having their heads touched tend to buck.
  • Show jumpers had an increased tendency to rear, while show and companion horses had an increased risk of bucking compare to pleasure-riding horses.

They concluded that good ground manners translate to better behavior under saddle. Addressing issues before a rider is aboard could allow horse owners and handlers to fix them before training measures escalate to involve more force. This would improve the safety and welfare of both horses and riders.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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