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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?

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