The ability to choose where to go and what to do is just as important for horses as it is for ourselves. The reason horses fight each other is to attain a ‘position’ so they can move when and where they want – freedom of choice.
It is important to look at environment from the horses point of view. Horses are confined in the domestic environment on many different levels, but making their environment interesting and offering as much freedom of choice and movement reduces the impact of psychological stress.
The term scientists use is ‘enriched environment’. Research dating back to the 1950’s has proven an ‘enriched environment’ reduces fearfulness and anxiety, increases habituation to unfamiliar objects and counteracts boredom associated with confinement, therefore reducing stress. Animal and human welfare is significantly affected.
By offering choice, freedom and stimulation both horse and hoof will be healthier.
To use a human analogy – a person serving a prison sentence is told when to eat, sleep, exercise, and work in a confined space albeit having access to several areas within the facility at certain times of the day.
A person in a holiday resort is ‘confined’ but they can choose when to eat, sleep, relax, exercise, interact with others, and access lots of interesting and fun things to do.
Providing an enriched environment for a horse will make a world of difference to their well being as it can for our own.
Taken from Progressive Horse run by husband and wife UKNHCP certified team, Ross and Mel Barker, find out more in our links area.