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Training the trainers: How to minimize stress when horses are first ridden
Date:9/21/2010

rtbeat and in the fluctuations in intervals between individual beats, as well as by the release of cortisol into the saliva. It seems likely that the horse interprets the first mounting of a rider as a potentially lethal attack by a predator, from which it is unable to escape. In addition, the rider is outside the horse's field of vision, which presumably exacerbates the problem.

Perhaps surprisingly, when the horse and rider walk or trot forwards, the level of stress decreases somewhat. It thus seems as though the horse adapts rapidly to the idea of being ridden and that as is the case for humans exercise may help relieve stress. Furthermore, the extent of stress caused by mounting was found to decrease gradually as the horse is trained, providing that this is done correctly. Aurich cautions that a lack of care or an incorrect regime in early training could cause long-term damage to the relationship between a horse and its rider and thus prevent a sports horse from reaching its full potential as well as causing the animal unnecessary anxiety.

Although her results make clear for the first time that the initial training of a sports horse does stress it, Schmidt has some reassuring words for trainers and jockeys. "The stress caused by being ridden for the first time is nowhere near as much as that caused by being transported by road. And if you are gentle and careful when you start to train a young horse, it will soon get used to you."


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Contact: Prof. Christine Aurich
christine.aurich@vetmeduni.ac.at
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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