Have you ever seen a horse get anxious and stressed? The idea of an anxious and stressed horse seems atypical, but horses are emotional animals that are prone to anxiety and stress when put under certain social and environmental triggers that lead to their anxious behavior.

If you have ever had the experience of being an equestrian or examining horses from a close distance, whether during a show or on some horse farm, you might be well aware of the behavioral changes that occur in horses while they are in the show or the farm.

What do you think leads to the anxious behavior of the horses in the horse show, and why do they run like they are being chased when they hear the bolt? Well, that’s because the thunder from the bolt act as the stressful trigger, which makes them run away from the situation as fast as possible.

Are the crowd and the bolt thunder the only stressful triggers for the horses? Well, of course not! Your horse can get anxious even when shifting it from one equestrian property to another. Your horse can exhibit stressful behavior when he is parted from the herd or family, so you see the triggers can vary, but being an equestrian, you must know some of the common and unexpected factors that might act as stress triggers to your horse in one way or another.

Horses are beautiful creatures; Lets Love Pets and take care of them by looking into unexpected factors that might put them in a stressful situation. Let’s get to know what factors can trigger stress in horses and what their reaction to the stresses could be;

Body Language of a Stressed Horse

Like humans, stress can cause physical health deterioration in horses, and their body language shows how stressful they are. When given a stressful stimulus, the reaction of horses can be different, and it varies from horse to horse. However, it depends greatly on whether your horse is familiar with the situation or whether you have desensitized your horse before. The common health conditions that are seen in horses that are put under prolonged stresses are;

  • Weak immune system
  • Colic
  • Weight loss
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Behavioral changes

Apart from these symptoms of prolonged stress, there are changes in behavior as well as body language that tell a lot about the anxiety and stressful condition of the horse. The anxiety symptoms that you can notice in your horse’s body language are;

  • Tooth grinding
  • Yawning
  • Excessive sweating

Factors That May Be the Reason behind Your Horse’s Stress

Some of the factors that might be the reason behind the anxious behavior of your horse are:

Separation from Herd

Horses are domestic animals, which have an instinctive behavior of living in herds, and once they are separated from their herd and herd mates, they start to exhibit stressful and anxious behavior.

Changes in Diet or Exercise

If you suddenly shift the exercise routine from slow-paced to fast, the horse will show anxious behavior due to the change in the exercise routine. The capacity and emotional strength to perform a vigorous activity are linked with the horse’s personality, and when something is done that it is not accustomed to, it shows anxiety. The same is the case with the change in the diet routine.

Large Events

Horses and humans have a lot in common when it comes to behavior; just like we humans feel anxious and stressed before performing in front of a crowd, horses, too, feel anxious and show signs of stress and anxiety. The main stress stimuli found in large events are;

  • New environment
  • Separation from the herd
  • Anxious about seeing other horses around
  • Feeling anxious because the rider is anxious

All of these stressors make your horse anxious, and it ultimately ends up in showing anxiety.

Old Trauma

Just like we get traumatized by the stressful stimulus that was the cause of the trauma, horses exhibit the same behavior too. Even after several years of the trauma, they still show anxiety when a certain stimulus is repeated or the trauma is somehow triggered.

If you are not aware of the traumatic history of your horse, it is better to ask the previous owner so that you can avoid putting your horse in the same situation. Especially if you bought a rescue horse, it is likely that your horse might have a traumatic background. In such a case, let’s love our pets by putting in more effort to know them better.

Poor Diet

A poor and unbalanced diet leads to gut problems, and your horse might ultimately end in a stressful situation. Horses need a balanced diet full of nutrients to function properly and stay healthy; the balanced diet of a horse contains;

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins


Your horse needs all of the above nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to maintain its health. Refrain from giving too much grain to your horse. It causes gas, and your horse is likely to be disturbed and stressed by gut problems.


Boredom can be a leading cause of stress and anxiety in horses because they are not habitual of staying inactive. When they are left alone for hours, they feel restless due to inactivity, which makes them stressed and induces anxiety. There are many ways the horse exhibits its boredom; kicking water buckets and stalling walking are some of the ways it shows its boredom.

Housing Conditions

Changing the housing conditions can also be a stress factor for your horse. When the housing or the pastures where your horse grazes are changed, it exhibits anxiety because of the changed surroundings and new environment.

Busy Transportation Schedule

The performance horses are always on the go, as they have to travel from place to place, and their transportation time hence increases. The new environment is a stressful stimulus, but the busy transportation schedule becomes the prime reason for stress and anxiety for performance horses.

Most the performance horses get used to the transportation trailers and don’t find them stressful anymore; however, it is not the same for every horse; if your horse shows the signs of stress and anxiety, make sure to make some changes to the transportation trailers to lower their stress levels.

Limited Pasture Time

In stables, horses are somewhat confined, but they have a lot of space to run freely and graze freely in pastures. Most importantly, they are with their herd, so they don’t exhibit signs of anxiety because their routine is free of any stressful stimuli. However, if you reduce the pasture time, your horse might react to it with stress and anxiety.

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