In the Shadow of Horse

In the Shadow of Horse
In the Shadow of Horse

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Grooming, the art and science of pair-bonding with horses

To pair bond and establish familiarity, one must brush their horse, often and regular. Massage is essential to maintain health in stabled horses, full body massage, por favor. Massage is diagnostic and therapeutic. Rub your stabled horses, please, rub them everywhere, do not forget to rub the coronary bands. Rub them before tacking up, rub to make sure they are sound. Rub, rub, rub, as rubbing creates winners. Forget the bute, and rub. 
 Brushing and grooming stimulate digestive and circulatory functions, as well as create social pair bonding between horse and horsefolker. Brushing enhances nutrition, circulation, and many physiological functions. If you are confused about rubbing, watch horses rub one another and watch horses rub themselves.
Stalled horses need a good hour or two of brushing a day to feel enriched. I have seen people train horses to ride by simply brushing them everywhere everyday. That is it, brushing, which apparently can involve and incorporate pressure and release and reward, creating the establishment of boundaries and yields. Mutual benificence. 

When in doubt with the training, brush, is what I learned from that little girl, and what I hope you to all learn from this unit.
When a horse becomes troubled, stop the training and brush and rub, please.

Troubled horses do not learn, while brushed horses learn well, oh yes. To brush your horse is to train your horse. Forget about showing your horse who is boss, show your horse who cares about them.
Brush your stabled horses, often, please. Rub and brush. Lunge them, too. The word lunge comes from lung, it seems, and to lunge is to enhance and maintain pulmonary health. The key to prevent bleeding (EIPH) in racehorses is abundant locomotion. Some believe drugs keep horses from bleeding, but the preferred method is abundant locomotion. Bleeding during a race prevented by abundant locomotion between races.
Notice how often horses self-groom their lower legs. Rub the legs all up and down before tacking up. Flex all the joints, please. Get the digital pulse, por favor.
Remember to rub your horse's fetlocks, pasterns, and coronets with your bare hands before and after riding each day for winning results. To know your horse, rub your horse.
Horses are physical beings. They need friendly touching, often. And clean: I dare proclaim horses are the cleanest creatures on the planet in open country.
Stabled horses, well, they get quite dirty when forced to live in a stall or stable. Open range horses seldom need bathed, but stabled horses may, so dirty and soiled a regularly unmaintained stall or small paddock is compared to the open range, where horses stay quite clean, but will sometimes show up very muddy or dirt-caked in insect season.
At racetracks, many horses are bathed daily, others less so. Many horses learn to enjoy the process, which involves extensive grooming and brushing and close physical contact. Other horses are quite aggravated by water, and many despise water squirted near their ears, eyes, and nose. 
Sometimes water is applied to cool horses off. The place to cool hot horses off, and the place they most accept water on the head, seems to be directly on their forehead, above the eyes, below the ears, straight on, right over the brain. This forehead area is where the most heat is dissipated in the least amount of surface area.
Horses in competitive training who get hot often come to appreciate head cooling, which is physiologically effective in lowering body temperature.
Watch the nozzle-squirting devices, and use a soft stream when habituating and desensitizing your horses to water. Hose the hot horse's body and up into the groin, as well. Get your horses habituated to water carefully over time, especially at first. 
Make your horse's first experience with water a good experience.
In some cultures, horses are not bathed with water so much as with brushing.
Rubbing a horse brings one into an awareness of the horse's soundness, health, and demeanor.
Rubbing simulates movement. If you cannot provide locomotion, you best get in there and rub. 
Stall-rested horses need rubbed and passively flexed for at least two hours a day to maintain health.
Friends, forage, locomotion, and rubbing.
Get in touch with your horses with your hands.

Dr Gustafson is an equine veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, and novelist. He helps refine horse and dog training methods to accommodate the inherent nature and behavior of horses and dogs. Applied veterinary behavior enhances optimum health, performance, soundness, contentment, and longevity in animal athletes. Natural approaches to development, training, nutrition, and conditioning sustain equine health and enhance performance. Behavioral and nutritional enrichment strategies enhance the lives of stabled horses. Training and husbandry from the horse's perspective result in content, cooperative horses. DrSid provides equine behavior consultations to help recreate the needs and preferences of horses in training and competition.

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