Helping Horses With Separation Anxiety: 5 Key Steps to Create Mutual Trust and Confidence

Many horses have some level of separation anxiety. If the anxiety is mild, it may only be annoying or a minor inconvenience. But, if your horse is so herd bound that her behaviour makes you feel anxious, it may be endangering your and your horse’s safety.

It is only natural for your horse to feel safest when she is with her herd. After all, for prey animals there is safety in numbers. So, what can you do to change a reaction that is caused by your horse’s survival instinct?

You build a bond that is based on mutual trust and respect and also builds confidence. Your horse needs to believe that she is as safe with you as she is with her herd. That connection with your horse starts from ground.

Ground work is much more than pushing your horse around a round pen or on a lunge line. It is anything and everything you do with your horse when you are not riding her – grooming, hand walking, lunging, long lining, even just hanging out in the paddock with her.

How you behave, what you ask from her and how you ask it establish whether or not she feels safe with you. Trust and feeling safe cannot come when force or fear are used.

The following 5 steps are the foundation to earning your horse’s trust and respect so that she can feel as safe with you as she does with her herd.

Step 1: Work with her where she feels calm. At first, this will be close to her herd so that her stress level is as low as possible. You may be in the paddock (if it is safe) or just on the other side of the fence.

Step 2: Encourage her to come into a calm posture by having her poll level with or below her withers. With contact on the rope and using gentle downward pressure, gently rock her head downwards. Do not pull or jerk on the rope!

Step 3: Ask her to respect your space by bending around you and not pushing into you with any part of her body. She cannot respect you if she can move you out of her way. Obviously, your safety comes first – move if you are in danger of being kicked, stepped on or run over.

Step 4: Respect her need to move when she is stressed, but control where and how she goes. Asking a stressed horse to stand still increases her anxiety. Lead her or simply move her around you in a small circle.

Step 5: Gradually increase the distance from her herd. At the first sign of stress, apply the first 4 steps to help decrease her anxiety. If she gets so stress that you get anxious or cannot calm her then go back to where she feels most comfortable.

The more you apply the first 4 steps, the more natural they will become for you and your horse. You can use them in any stressful situation. Your sessions do not have to be lengthy, but they should always end with your horse feeling calm.

The Bottom Line – The absolute best way to develop a true partnership with your horse is by building your confidence and trust in each other.

You can get your Free Instant Access to my webinar “3 Actions You Can Take Now to Build Your Confidence Handling and Riding Horses” when you visit

Brought to you by Anne Gage of Confident Horsemanship ~ Putting you and your horse in good hands.

How To Shop For A New Horse Truck

For many equestriennes, shopping for a new horse truck, sometimes referred to as a horse box, is the realisation of a lifelong dream. Getting ready to look for that dream vehicle is a time of great excitement, although usually tinged with a slight edge of trepidation, especially for the first time buyer. Purchasing even a small horse truck can require a significant financial investment so it is important that the right vehicle is chosen based on each individual’s own wants and needs.

There are two options when looking at these vehicles, buying new or buying secondhand. Purchasing a brand new horse truck has a number of benefits. Firstly, there are usually warrantees and guarantees associated with the purchase, as the seller will tend to be a registered horse truck business. If anything turns out to be faulty with the truck after getting it home, the company is normally obliged to replace it or fix the problem. If the vehicle is being commissioned to be built from scratch, there is often the opportunity to add extra features. That way the vehicle will be fully personalised, designed specifically for the purchaser and will provide everything the owner may want from it. There is no doubt that there are fewer risks when buying a new model but do remember that the cost will be substantially higher than a used truck. Another thing to bear in mind is that many companies will offer used, ex lease or display vehicles, along with the new trucks that they have for sale. It is often possible to pick up a nice truck for a fraction of the price of a new one this way, with the peace of mind that can be gained from shopping with a reputable transport business.

Buyer beware is a sensible way to approach the purchase of a secondhand horse truck, if bought privately. The risks and pitfalls are far greater and there is not much protection at all for customers. If the buyer doesn’t have much experience with horse trucks or other vehicles, they should try to take a knowledgeable person along with them to viewings. Once a horse truck has been decided on, get it checked over by an organisation such as AA, who will give it the full once over and highlight any possible areas for concern. If it is not possible to take anyone along, take a long look at the brakes, lights, bodywork and wheels in particular. Keep an eye out for rust and any obvious holes and cracks. It is also very important that the floor is in good condition as horses can easily fall through a rotten wooden floor, with disastrous consequences.

Actually financing one of these vehicles can be quite a hurdle for many people. If buying new, most horse truck builders will be able to arrange finance for purchasers. Finance can also sometimes be organised through a bank or similar institution if buying a used one. It is always a good idea to save up a portion of the cost as a deposit though and make sure the monthly or weekly payments won’t be too much of a strain. There is no point splashing out on a lovely new model if there’s no money left over to enjoy it!

Owning a horse truck can bring a degree of freedom that has never been experienced before. Many horses prefer to travel in a truck and if there is adequate living inside, it can be comfortable place to stay in overnight at equestrian competitions. Following the few aforementioned guidelines will give the horse owner a greater chance of ending up with a reliable, well running horse truck that will provide them with hours of enjoyment for years to come.


Equine Trader was launched in 2007 and has quickly developed into a leading online equestrian resource. It appeals to New Zealanders who own, ride and are passionate about horses. However, the hugely popular website also attracts equine lovers from throughout the rest of the world.
Membership is free and allows registered users to buy and sell through classifieds and auctions at no charge, browse over 400 horses and ponies for sale and participate in a wide range of exciting competitions and games.


Starting at the Right Point

Over and over again I have seen people start at the wrong point in working with horses; I don’t know if that person feels that they know enough to start further on down the program or if they just don’t really understand how to approach the entire project correctly. Either way they have started at a point that allows for many little problems to show up and develop into larger problems. Starting at the right point allows for a progression that has to follow a given set of rules that are already set in the mind of the horse. The answer is quite simple, start at the beginning. Be able to allow yourself to invest the time that will give you the end results that you are looking for. Besides, this is not who is in charge, or even who knows what; but it is about learning and then beginning to work as a team.

Some of these problems that are created may seem very trivial to us, but what we are attempting to do here is to think like the horse, react like the horse and create a relationship with each horse that we come in contact with.

Most of these problems start out as simple acts that we give no thought to, like feeding from the hand or standing in the wrong place. What these problems do is to reinforce the fact that you are not really capable of handling the position within the herd that you are striving for. To be able to occupy a position of trust and being the one that the horse will turn to in time of need you have to be given the respect of the horse that you are dealing with. Simple and thoughtless actions lead to the horse being disrespectful of you, initially it will be little things that happen and over time, they will become much larger problems until you are having problems getting the horse to show any form of respect towards you and allow you to lead.

Horses are like most living creatures and respond well to praise and touch that shows that you care. Feeding from the hand instills that you are nothing more than a hay feeder or gain bucket and they will do what is ever necessary to satisfy their hunger, including walking over the top of you to satisfy that natural urge. It is never the item that you are feeding the horse; it is the fact that you have allowed them to progress past that invisible line that was created through respect. I have heard some people refer to this as invading your area, I do allow horses into my area, but they do so only when I say so, never when they want to come barging in and knock me over. So, knowing that it is never what you feed, it has to be the how of the feeding. The horse will enjoy what you have to give to them; you just need to do it in a manner that allows the trust and respect to be retained. Try taking the bucket that you are feeding them from and place it on the ground, let them eat from it this way, you have shown them that they will be rewarded for good behavior and at the same time retained your position within the relationship.

Many people are willing to accept the little problems, but when you stand back and take a good hard look, you will realize that the horse is able to accept that not following the rules will allow them to also start to do other things that they should not do. That is how little problems become bigger problems and most of the problems that are started on the ground will relate to even bigger problems once you get on their back. Remember, trust and respect are the main points that you are trying to get the horse to relate to you and if you are allowing little things to go unnoticed then the horse starts to lose trust and respect in the same amounts. What starts out as a drip becomes a trickle, then that becomes a steady flow until you have a massive surge and there is almost no way to stop the flow of disrespect.

This all comes down to the acceptance of responsibility. Since the position that you are seeking in the relationship demands certain actions from you, there has to be an ability to accept and enforce the guidelines that come with that position. Again, it is trust and respect, not force or demands.


My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at


Horse Shows – How to Make Your Horse More Competitive

horsejumping-How to Make Your Horse More CompetitiveBy Brittany T Factor, DVM

I can see you now, the horse crazed individual preparing for one of the most important events of the season. You have an awesome horse. You have spent countless hours in the saddle, sometimes without stirrups. Your trainer’s words haunt your dreams. Your tack has been cleaned and your horse is sporting a new set of shoes. You even spent a little extra on a new show shirt this go round. The trailer is hooked up and ready to go. You are ready. Or are you?

No doubt, attending an important horse event brings out the OCD in all of us equine competitors. Our new year’s resolution typically starts with planning our entire horse show season, strategizing around work schedules and family obligations. Our ever expanding “to do” list has been carefully devised and each task executed and boldly checked off.

We, the most relentless of competitors, have read countless articles on grooming techniques, trends in fashion, even sport psychology. Anything and everything related to horse showing we have queried on Google and Pinterest.

We have planned, prepared, and performed in the show ring… but what went wrong? The show just didn’t turn out how we envisioned. After all this preparation, our beloved horse doesn’t feel right.

Nobody plans on having a sore horse at the show.

As an equine veterinarian that focuses on the performance horse and avid competitor myself, it is my impression that one of the most overlooked aspects of equine competition is prevention. Why do we not treat our equine athletes like some of our football players, gymnasts, or marathon runners? Training and grooming only gets us half way there.

I urge you to expand your resources beyond your trainer and farrier. Utilize your veterinarians more. It is their drive and dedication to provide you with the most innovative, state-of-the art, and progressive diagnostics/treatments available.

Consult with your veterinarian regularly regarding a developing fitness program, intermittent form and function assessments, so that you may recognize and prevent injuries in your horse before they happen.

Research equine sport horse practices available at equine events you attend. There are countless non-invasive therapies available at the shows to enhance your horse’s performance without the use of medication.

Progress your program to ensure your horse feels its best while performing. Focus on creating a sustainable athlete. Add it to your list. A happy, healthy, and sound horse may win you some more ribbons next time.

Equine Sport Solutions (ESS) is a veterinary practice that promotes the pursuit of excellence in the equestrian sport by providing expertise in the general care, athletic support, and the restoration of normal form and function after musculoskeletal injury in the performance horse. We customize conditioning, treatment, or rehabilitative programs that fits both the needs of the horse and rider. We provide in clinic evaluations, traveling, and consultative services.

You may obtain more information about Dr. Factor and her practice, Equine Sport Solutions, through her website.

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