Wellness is a Mind/Body Connection
by Catherine Madera
Is your horse happy? A hundred years ago no cowboy, or girl, would waste time pondering this question. Today, most horse owners I know are concerned about the mental state of their horse, specifically if it is “happy.” What does this mean and should we be concerned about it? While people disagree on the range and importance of equine emotions, it is pretty easy to discern if a horse seems happy. True wellness, for humans and horses equals health in both mind and body.
When our horse, Cowboy, injured his hock a year and a half ago he needed stall rest—a lot of stall rest. I was shocked to watch the changes in this normally stoic, easy going gelding that had “been there and done that” and taken several beginners on their first horseback ride. He developed stall vices including cribbing, pawing and, my “favorite,” banging the front of his stall incessantly whether it was feeding time or not. In addition he became pushy and subtly anxious. It was pretty easy to detect his unhappiness, all due to a simple change in husbandry. Though we added a tiny run to the 12×12 enclosure, he wasn’t himself until he returned to full pasture turn out. Interestingly, my more complicated and spirited Arabian stallion takes stall confinement (when it’s necessary) pretty much in stride. Horses are individual in their reactions to environment and training. The responsible owner will, within reason, give a horse what it needs for both mental and physical wellness. A happy horse is a pleasure to own and handle.
This month our annual wellness issue contains lots of great information to help you solve the sometimes complicated equation of equine health. Be sure to check out the cover story on SciencePure nutraceuticals on page 6 for information on building a healthier horse from the inside out. Email me at: [email protected].
May your horses be happy!
Published October 2012 Issue
Catherine Madera served as editor of the Northwest Horse Source for five years. She has written for numerous regional and national publications and is a contributing writer for Guideposts Magazine and the author of four equine-related books. She has two grown children and lives with her husband and three horses in Northwest Washington.