Understanding the Flight Zone of Horses

Pat Comerford, Extension Horse Specialist, Penn State University; and Betsy Greene, Equine Extension Specialist, University of Vermont


Flight Zone

One point to consider when approaching and working with your horse is its flight zone.

  • Understanding the flight zone can reduce stress to the horse and help prevent accidents to both horse and handler. The flight zone

Horse Training Principles Related to Bit Use

Horse with snaffle bit

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Bits provide one of the major points of control when riding horses. Knowledge of horse behavior and training principles used to modify behavior must be considered when selecting and using bits. Bitting is a continual process which, through repetitive and step-wise training, teaches horses to accept bits and to properly respond to bit pressure.

The goal of the bitting process is to train the horse to respond to as light a bit pressure as …

Horse Investigative Behavior

Investigative Behavior

Celeste Crisman, Extension Horse Specialist, Virginia Tech

Although the horse’s usual first response to unfamiliar things is flight or fight, its second response is usually curiosity. Horses use all of their senses to investigate their world. During investigation, they tend to be very alert, excitable and ready to flee at any hint of danger. After all, there could be a predator hiding in the object they were examining.

Curiosity is part of the horse’s natural behavior and managers …

Horse Herd Instinct

Cindy McCall, Auburn University

Domestic Horses and Herd Instinct

Mares and foals in field

Domestic horses instinctively want to be in a herd, and readily form herds if maintained on pasture. The desire for contact with other horses can result in horses running back and forth along the fence line or running through the fence if left alone in a field or paddock.

Common problems in domestic horses related to their herd instinct may include:

  • Misbehavior when the handler takes a horse away from the

Basics of Equine Behavior

One of the keys to safely working with your horse is understanding natural horse behavior. If you can predict when a horse is about to be aggressive or spook at something, you are better able to respond and either avoid a dangerous situation, or prevent that behavior. The article below explains some of the horse’s natural behaviors.

Carey A. Williams, Ph.D., Extension Specialist in Equine Management, Rutgers University


Understanding Horse Behavior

This manual was developed for 4-Hers involved in the 4-H Horse project. This should help expand your knowledge about horse behavior, which will help you better understand why a horse does what it does.

The manual contains information about the basics of:

  • Horse behavior
  • Horse senses
  • Domestication
  • Mating behavior
  • Ingestive (eating) behavior
  • Foaling behavior
  • Horse learning

This manual was written and composed by Doyle G. Meadows, Warren Gill, James B. Neel, University of Tennessee

Understanding Horse Behavior

To open

Developing Horsemanship Hands and Seat

Image:Western-saddle-feature.jpgStrengthen your western and english riding skills by using the drills presented in this new horse instructional video.


Western Saddle to Ride a Horse

In this video, Kathy Anderson explains certain drills that riders can do to develop the desired horsemanship hands and seat for both english and western disciplines.

2008 Equestrian Academy, Equine 105, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Drills for Developing Horsemanship Hands and Seat

  • Introduction
  • Western Drills at a Walk
  • Western Drills at the Jog
  • Western Drills Without Stirrups
  • Hunt Seat Drills at the

Learning Ability of Horses

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

All current equine learning research is based on the assumption that horses learn through Stimulus – Response – Reinforcement – Training (S – R – R – T).

How S – R – R – T Works

The horse perceives a stimulus, or cue, such as the rider’s leg or body weight (seat).

The horse then makes a random response to the stimulus.

If the response is correct, the horse receives positive reinforcement …

Reinforcement for Horse Learning

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

The trainer must decide the appropriate form of reinforcement to stimulate the proper response when a horse initially learns a new cue. The basic principle of reinforcement is that certain events are capable of strengthening responses to certain stimuli. It is doubtful any learning can take place without some type of reinforcement.

Reinforcement can be divided into two categories:

  • Primary reinforcement – has natural reinforcement properties. Examples of primary reinforcement are feed, pain, and

Factors Affecting Horse Learning

One of the fundamentals of training horses is the knowledge and use of reinforcement. In order to utilize positive or negative reinforcement in a training program, you must first understand certain factors that affect how a horse learns. This article describes a few of these factors.

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky


Horse in training

A good knowledge of how a horse learns and how to properly use reinforcement in training a horse will help you understand how the following factors affect …