Growing Up and Mental Health

While this isn’t a training method it definitely has an affect on your horse and subsequent training. The Western Horse Review wrote an article featuring Martin Black and a renown brain scientist investigating horses and how they think. One point they made was how horses are raised. In the article they make a comparison between a stall or small paddock raised colt and one free to roam ie. a mustang. Through research they came to the conclusion that the wild or free range colts had more mental connections than the stall raised colt.

Quality and diversity of the environment that a colt grows up in has a huge influence on their health and well being. Not only the landscape challenges that aid in muscle and bone development, but obstacles that require a colt to learn how to get themselves out of trouble. They are forced to be quicker on their feet in both athletics and mental capacity.

We are proud at Diamond 4 Performance Horses that we live in very hilly and varied landscape. The weanlings we buy are halterbroke and friendlied up enough that they are easy to handle but for the most part we leave them alone. Today I was remarking about how the weanlings decided on a nice warm day to go and run through the large pasture that attaches to their pen. Unusual for them but it goes to show that they aren’t afraid to go and challenge themselves. The benefits are enormous, they have to handle themselves with great care and attention as they run up and down steep hills and learn to negotiate the ravines, fallen trees and more that they will find out there.

The benefits of turnout are very evident on a horse that is in training. I recall one day bringing in some horses to ride from their small outdoor stalls, it was near the end of the week. The one gelding was way off, very spooky, jumpy, could barely handle being brushed. Thinking back he hadn’t had the same turn out as everyone else because he was terrible to catch, the girls could easily spend half an hour trying to catch him, getting him very wound up in the process. Instead of carrying on and going to work I did some basic ground work that he knew well and turned him out for the weekend. He came back in Monday, was suprisingly good to catch and back to his old lazy relaxed self.

I have noticed this as well in horses I have boarded at barns that only have small turnouts. It is exciting to bring them home and turn them out in a big pasture. They buck and kick and race around for hours.

So whether you are raising foals or riding horses, good turnout does wonders on a horses physical and mental well being and should be a priority to healthy management.

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