Behaviour such as weaving, crib biting, wind sucking and box walking are more commonly seen in horses that are stabled for long periods of time. Horses are also more prone to these types of behaviour when they are
unable to interact with other horses,
bedded down on shavings rather than straw
fed limited amounts of forage (below 6.8kg per day).
Other types of difficult behaviour include separation anxiety, sometimes being separated from the herd or from field companions is so bad for the horse that it will injure itself in an attempt to re-join the herd or friend.
This is part of the normal herd instinct as there is obvious safety in numbers and less risk of being preyed upon if being out as a member of a group rather than as an individual. This natural instinct seems to affect more dominant members of a group especially the more confident members of the herd as they are least likely to want to lose or relinquish their rank or status in the herd.
Horses travelling experience an increase in heart rate, first time travellers have a greater increase of stress than those that are experienced. Loading and unloading appear to be the most stressful of times. (see diag below) A =first time traveller, B = more experienced traveller
Stress levels during a journey by horse box
Difficult behaviour from mares as part of the normal oestrus cycle.
Mares in season can display varying degrees of unusual behaviour or ‘mood swings’ such as being unwillingness to work, easily distracted, resentment in being tacked up and ridden, oversensitivity, being touched, squealing, biting and kicking. Mares come into season during the spring, summer and autumn.
Pregnancy in horses lasts approximately 11 months, so the break in her cycle during winter ensures that the mare doesn't give birth to a foal when the weather is at its worst. The mare's cycles are controlled by hormones, which respond to the changes in the duration of daylight, so once the days get shorter leading into winter, the mare stops cycling. The oestrous cycle occurs every three weeks and mares are in season for a period of four to six days.
Stallions can sometimes be distracted by the environment they are in, especially in a close (indoor) competition where mares in season may be in a closer vicinity.It helps to prepare the young breeding stallions for competitions by exposing them to being worked in a confined arena with other horses around, including, other stallions, mares, geldings and ponies. This gives them time to concentrate on the job in hand rather than the other horses working in around them.
Again all horses are different and some ‘entire’ horses will be easier to manage than others, the warm up area will possibly be the biggest test, as this is the area where other horses are likely to come into his space. Sometimes stabling at competitions can be an issue, especially if there are mares around and during the summer months