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Planting his feet could be a sign that your horse is stressed, rather than defiant, say researchers at University Centre Hartpury and Nottingham Trent University. The team put horses through two behavioural tests and measured physical stress responses, while also observing behaviour. Stress was defined by elevated heart rate and increased eye temperature. The study horses all displayed different reactions when performing each test – such as planting their feet and rushing. Lead researcher Carrie Ijichi says: “Some people think that when a horse freezes, he’s just being stubborn. We found that some really stressed horses planted their feet, whereas others weren’t very stressed at all. “My advice to horse owners would be this: if you’re in doubt about how your horse is feeling, assume he isn’t okay. Introduce new things gradually and make sure you reward him often.”
Can you t ell h ow your h orse i s f eeling when you p resent h im with a c hallenge?