Does your horse feel safe, in himself? I’m not talking about from your perspective, eg whether he’s ‘safe to ride’, or ‘safe for you to be around’ etc. Instead I found myself curious about what level of overall safety horses themselves experience. I’ll get on to some more specific areas later in the blog.
It’s important to note that being safe and feeling safe are two separate things. Even if you know your horse is safe, that doesn’t mean he feels safe. And if our horses don’t feel safe, in themselves, surely that’s going to affect everything else.
What happens if a horse doesn’t feel safe?
- It will be hard for them to trust, to listen, to understand what we’re asking of them.
- They’re much more likely to go into a fight / flight / freeze / fidget type behaviour, which we don’t want.
- It’s harder for them to learn if they don’t feel safe.
- And, of course it affects the relationship we have with them.
I did a quick Pendulum Survey on my Facebook page to gauge the answer. Bear in mind that the sort of people who follow me and would take part in a survey like this are probably already keenly interested in how their horse is feeling!
In these survey’s people take part by posting a photo and name of their horse. I make an energetic connection with each, and ask the survey question using my strong healing pendulum. Note that this is completely woo and unscientific, but satisfies my curiosity and gives us a bit of an insight to how a group of horses feels.
This time for each I checked what percentage the horse felt safe overall.
I was encouraged by the results – though, again, they may be a reflection of the type of people who took part, and could be quite different in the general population, or in specific niches (eg wild horses, racehorses, etc.)
The overall results were:
- 24% of horses didn’t feel safe (the majority of them tested lower than 30% feeling of safety),
- 76% did feel safe (tested over 50% feeling of safety).
Of those that tested low, some examples were a mustered brumby, a young growing horse, and one that was known to have had bad previous experiences. All very valid reasons for not feeling safe.
One was a horse that was in quite a new home (it tested 25% for its feeling of safety). I’d say that’s pretty normal – it takes time to settle in to a new home, and get to know and trust new people.
One way you can help a new horse, brumby, or troubled horse settle in is to verbally explain things to him – why he’s there, what your intentions are for him etc. (See this video for more on that.)
Young growing horses I suspect feel unsafe every time they have a growth spurt – suddenly they can’t trust their body any more! You can best help them by making sure to keep helping them understand their bodies and balance, and by keeping their energy in balance.
Of the 76% that tested as feeling over 50% safe, the majority were in the 60-75% range.
Only 22% of horses tested feeling 80% safe or higher – and none tested as feeling 100% safe.
Summarising a different way – a quarter of horses didn’t feel safe, and a quarter felt 80% safe or higher.
As usual my Equine Energetics Insiders (subscribers to my weekly newsletter) got to go deeper. They were able to get a check on a specific area of concern (or curiosity).
These results are pretty individual – but their horses feelings of safety were:
- being ridden – the 3 horses I checked for this tested at 65%, 70%, and 80%.
- feeling safe in his surroundings (eg paddock and arena) – 85%.
- travelling / floating – 60%.
- feeling safe with his owner – 60%.
- hacking out – one tested just 15%, another tested 70%, and a third 75%.
I think it’s interesting that, again, there are no ‘100%’ results.
Is that significant?
Is it just a reflection of the very nature of horses, ie that they are flight animals?
Or, is it an indication that we still have a lot of work to do, to help our horses feel safe??
Keep connecting with your horses,
Trisha Wren has been an equine professional for most of her adult life. She rode, competed, and taught Western Riding for 15 years in Scotland, then taught horse and rider bio-mechanics in New Zealand and Australia for 10 years. She’s been a full time horse and animal communicator since April 2016. Find out more about Trisha here and sign up for her self paced Animal Communication course here.