Everything Horse Magazine August 2021 Issue 44 - Page 38

Is the horse ready for work ?

When considering whether or not a horse is ready for work , it is essential to consider the following aspects :
1 . How physically mature is the horse ? a . Bone maturation b . Height c . Weight d . Musculature e . How quickly or slowly did the horse grow , and was it a steady increase over time ? ( Rapid or uneven growth can lead to Developmental Orthopaedic Disease )
2 . How mentally mature is the horse ? a . How does he cope with new environments ? b . What reaction do you get to new stimuli ? c . Does he immediately react or stop to think ? d . Does he calm down quickly after arousal ? e . Is arousal proportionate to the stimulus or event ?
3 . Who is best placed to help my horse into working life ? a . Can I do this myself , or should I consult a professional ? i . Do I have time ii . Do I have support iii . Do I have the facilities ? iv . Do I have the knowledge and experience ?
b . If hiring a professional , consider ; i . Their qualifications , knowledge and experience ( don ' t be afraid to ask for these ). ii . Their values and training philosophy ( this is THE most important aspect to consider ). Punitive methods should be avoided – for an evidence-led , practically competent professional view equine practitioners at www . abtc . org . uk iii . How your horse will be kept and what your involvement will be . Ideally , you should be involved in the process – you are going to be the long-term rider of the horse . iv . How long will it take , and how much will it cost . Slower is better , but this can get expensive , so you may need to consider alternative options .
Moving forward Given time to reflect on your answers , you may come to the conclusion , that now isn ’ t the right time to start your young horse , and that is OK . Taking your time to make a fully informed decision will pay dividends in the long run , for you and your horse !
Some horses are just not ready to start work when we think they should be or when we want them to . Sometimes this can be due to physical causes , and at other times it is down to psychological unpreparedness . Often big , strong horses are perceived as mentally ready before they are actually capable of undertaking a calm introduction to working life .
Sadly , some horses may never be ready or able to undertake the work we have planned for them due to physical and / or mental limitations . However , for most horses , even those who may appear psychologically challenged , working with a fully qualified and accredited Clinical Animal Behaviourist can help resolve and manage issues to develop a harmonious working relationship .
38 • EVERYTHING HORSE MAGAZINE : AUGUST 2021