Horses are intelligent animals and looking after them is incredibly rewarding. Being a responsible horse or pony owner means getting to know their behaviour and what's normal for them, as well as giving them the space they need. Here are a few things to remember to give your horse a happy life:
- Give them space to run free, with company: horses need to be able to run freely in a paddock as frequently as possible and for as long as possible, in the company of other horses.
- Train them sensitively: take the time to work out how your horse learns best so that you can train them humanely and effectively. Be careful to use training aids your horse understands, and use them in a consistent manner.
- Never punish: horses can be trained using positive, reward-based methods. Never shout at or punish your horse, as fear of punishment can cause them to become aggressive or to develop behaviour problems.
- Keep an eye on their behaviour: take time to learn how your horse normally behaves. If you notice anything unusual, ask a specialist equine vet for advice immediately, as it could be a sign that they're ill or suffering.
- Don't use devices to curb behaviour: you shouldn't use anti-cribbing collars, anti-weaving grilles or other devices that attempt to stop a behaviour. Using these devices can cause further welfare problems. Instead, get advice to tackle causes such as stress isolation or boredom.
Learn more about what your horse or pony needs to be happy and healthy in our guides to their environment, diet, company and health and welfare, and discover more about how your horse behaves in our guide to understanding your horse's behaviour.