Safety at Horse Shows

Common sense is the key to safe and successful horse showing. Safety procedures should not only be practiced at horse shows but also at home every day. This article discusses safety issues at home and at the horse show, for both the exhibitor and show manager.

Doyle G. Meadows, Professor, Animal Science, University of Tennessee; Warren Gill, Professor, Animal Science

Girl holding horse

Safety at horse events, such as horse shows, should always be given the highest possible priority. The horse show environment …

Showmanship and Grooming

Being able to handle your horse safely on the ground is an integral part of owning a horse. Showmanship takes this skill to the next level. Showmanship requires the horse and rider to be skilled in condition. The following article discusses how to prepare for a showmanship class and bring home a blue ribbon.

Revised by Gale Chrestman, Extension 4-H and Livestock Specialist, Mississippi State University.

Showmanship is the conditioning, grooming and presenting of a horse to its best advantage. …

Bit Selection for Riding and Training Horses

Identifying differences in bit construction and understanding some of the important principles of bit use will provide an educated basis for selecting bits. The article below explains the different types of bits available so that riders can determine which one is more appropriate for their horses.

David W. Freeman, OSU Extension Equine Specialist

Bits are designed for riders to cue a horse by placing pressure in and around a horse’s mouth. This pressure is used to control the speed and …

Approaching a Horse

Kathy Anderson, Extension Horse Specialist, University of Nebraska; and Pat Comerford, Extension Horse Specialist, Penn State University

There are a number of things to keep in consideration when approaching a loose horse. Be familiar with the horse’s field of vision and never approach from a horse’s blind spot. Consider other animals and their position and possible reactions in the pasture. Read the horse’s attitude by watching his body language. Speak calmly and confidently. Approach the …

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

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