Horses are creatures of instinct and habit. Psychologically they are hard-wired to be wary of their surroundings and react to the slightest threat of danger. This comes from the days of their wild ancestors roaming the open fields keeping careful watch out for predators and other threats. Of course through the generations humans have created a domesticated animal, but the flight-or-fight tendencies still prevail when horses feel their safety is at risk.
For these reasons it is imperative that we understand some of the triggers that set off a horse’s reaction to potential threats and how we can protect ourselves while handling and riding or driving horses. We must remember that safety for the human is the number one concern; safety for the horse is number two and all other concerns are number three. Know the job. Know the hazard. Know the drill.
If you plan to handle a horse, be sure you are comfortable with the task at hand. If you are stressed or feel too inexperienced, your horse will surely sense this and react. In this situation, have an experienced horse person do the handling for you and take the time to learn from her or him.
Author/Organization: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry