Posted in: Equine Training, Positive Reinforcement Training, The Academy of Positive Horsemanship

Napping by Jessie Sams (one of the Equi-libre Horses Associate Coaches)

Napping is an extremely common problem that can occur across a range of contexts from hacking out, in the school or field. Horses can show an array of behaviour responses when napping from a freeze response or refusal to go forwards, to spinning, rearing, backing up or bolting. This can be dangerous and create fear in horse and rider. Some causes of napping may include:

• Separation anxiety/distress
• Fear
• Previous negative or traumatic experiences
• Lack of experience
• Loss of confidence (may be sudden in onset)
• Pain or pain memory
• Sudden change in the environment or even routine (sudden environmental contrast)
• Rarely sensory deficit such as loss or partial loss of vision or hearing

Forcing a horse past an object or further than they are able or comfortable to go may result in an escalation of the behaviour risking injury to horse and rider as well as bystanders.

A horses response is not indicative of how fearful they are. The horse who plants may be just as afraid as the one who bolts. Some horses are more active copers meaning they will take a more proactive approach such as spinning or bolting. In contrast a more reactive (passive) coper may simply plant. Addressing problems such as napping or separation anxiety is not a quick fix and require patience and time.

#horsebehaviour #traumainformedhorsemanship #microhack #academyofpositivehorsemanship

©️Jessie Sams (2019)