Welcome back, in earlier lessons we discussed the natural environments for the horse and why fear and stress may result from domestication and modern management practices. In this lesson, we'll talk about how to recognize fear and stress. By the end of the lesson, you should be able to describe the signals that a horse is fearful or experiencing stress. When it comes to fear, horses often feed off the energy of their herd-mates riders or handlers. If they sense stress or fear, they will often raise their own level of vigilance to prepare for a threat. Here are some of the indicators that a horse is fearful. These are cues as caregivers that we need to heed. Widening of the eyelids and movement of head and ears to enhance vision and hearing. Raising of the head and tail to signal alert and prepare the body for action. Widening of the nostrils to enhance olfaction or sense of smell and blowing of air though the nostril to signal alert. Horses will often spin there body to face the oncoming threat or noise, and then retreat away from that object or noise. In this action they can be dangerous as they will run through or over obstacles that hinder their retreat. In addition, you may notice a horse expressing stress by pacing in his stall or pasture, refusing to eat or drink, or making continual vocalizations. A stressed stalled horse may repeatedly back up in the stall, slamming hind quarters against the wall and lunging forward towards the stall door. It is very common for a stressed horse to paw at the ground. Physiologically, the horse's adrenaline levels are rising while he's under stress. His respiratory rate and heart rate are often increased, and you may see him sweating. It is also not uncommon to see a horse's muscles twitch in response to stress or fear. Sometimes horses will also pass an increased amount of manure or very loose manure as a response to stress. It is not uncommon for a trailed horse to pass several piles of sloppy manure on even a short trip. Depending on the circumstance, once the adrenaline level has spiked these signs of fear and stress linger even after you feel you have resolved the issue. As the handler you may need to stay with the horse until he or she is completely calmed down, not sweaty and has normal vital signs again. These expressions of fear and stress can be hazard for the horse, his herdmates, and for you. So it is important in everyone's best interest to minimize the circumstances that lead to fear and stress. For this reason, it is wise to limit loud noises and sudden movements when working around horses. If the horse displays fear or reacts to herd mates, an experienced handler should intervene, who has been trained in the safe handling zones of the horse. This type of handler assumes the role of herd mate and leader. Still in confidence in the horse with an expedient building of trust between human and horse. For example, when you need to catch a frightened horse, you should verbally announce your approach in a reassuring tone. Walk towards the horse's left shoulder in a line of vision and for assurance, have an enticing handful of grass or a bucket of grain. The experience handler knows not to run up behind the horse or to make sudden movement. Once the horse is caught, keep a firm grip of lead rope, but do not wrap the rope around your hand. While staying at the left shoulder far enough away so as to not get stepped on or dragged by the stressed horse. Allow the horse a few bites of the food as a gesture of reassurance. But the real focus is on distracting the horse from the fearful issue and moving away from a hazardous scene. While food can be a great enticement for catching a horse, Or a welcome distraction. In general, it is not good to let the horse eat a fast, large meal when truly stressed. They may gulp the food too quickly which could result in a esophageal choke. Which you recall, we learned about in a previous lesson. They could also colic from poorly digesting food when stressed. A good rule of thumb is to offer small portions of hay until you're confident the horse has calmed down and is chewing and drinking normally again. We've highlighted some dramatic expressions of fear and stress. But these reactions can also be very subtle, it is your responsibility as the human in the relationship to be alert to signals that the horse is not feeling comfortable. Fear may simply begin with the horse not paying attention to your cues. Don't assume that she is being belligerent and lazy give the horse the benefit of the doubt. She may smell something that you're not aware of, or unable to sense. She may be reacting to a trigger of a past negative experience, such as a cowboy hat, or a backpack, that reminds them of someone who once threatened their safety. A windy day can cause a horse to be extra jittery, because they can't hear or smell in their normal manner. Bright sunlight may cause glare or odd shadows that increase the likelihood of rapid movements or spooking. So when the horse is misbehaving, it may actually be a fear response. And because of this involuntary fear response, reprimanding the horse will not often help resolve the situation. In fact, in this scenario, a negative reprimand on the handler's part can increase the fear and stress, turning a short term reaction into a long term behavior problem. And it certainly does not help to alleviate fear. Chronic stress may also manifest as the inability to gain weight despite your stellar nutrition program. The physiologic response to stress and fear begins a cascade of chemicals and hormones released into the horse's body. Some of these chemicals and hormones can suppress the immune system, so the horse may be more susceptible to infections. The increased pacing in a stall can put excessive, uneven wear and tear on tendons and hooves, creating low-grade lames. A horse that is frightened in it's past may come in at the end of the day with multiple scratches from banging into the fence line while trying to run away from perceived danger. As the human in this partnership, you may need to play the role of detective to decipher the clues and truly understand the source of the horse's stress. Only then can you take measures to remedy the situation under your control, and maximize the horses freedom from fear and stress. The good news is that domestic causes usually accommodate to their environment over time,. They become a custom to vehicle noises and regular bar noises that they nay hear on dairy basis. They also respond well to the confidence of their handler and they can be consoled and worked though their apprehension. Considering our long history together, it's not a surprise humans and horses can work through their issues as a team, it just takes understanding, patience and communication. In our next lesson, we'll look at the very embodiment of the human equine bond, the horse as our athletic partner. We'll look at how we manage the welfare of the horse in a number of equestrian disciplines, competition and travel. We'll also look at how equine sport is governed, and the welfare implications of national and international competition, see you soon.