Poor socialization can stem from a variety of circumstances - DVM
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Poor socialization can stem from a variety of circumstances
Veterinarians can help clients learn how to identify peculiar behaviors, socialize atypical animals


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Blind horses are cautious about their surroundings and should be taught about the fences surrounding their enclosure and any unusual obstacles in the field. Horses make mental maps of terrain and are very good at remembering boundaries. Many endurance riders pre-ride sections of trail that they know they will have to ride at night during competition. They find that even one pass-over trail can be remembered by some horses, and that information will be valuable later. Most blind horses seem to develop this mental mapping ability, so showing them gates, fences and trees is important. Be careful to remove wires or low-hanging tree limbs that they might encounter. Show these horses where water and food sources are, and if necessary, spread gravel around problem areas so that the blind horse can feel the difference in footing and have an idea as to location. It will take time but many horses learn to negotiate their pastures with surprising ease and confidence.

Social interactions are difficult for blind horses. Much of normal equine behavior is controlled by visual cues — swishing tail and flattened ears for anger and so forth. Unable to see these clues and act appropriately, the blind horse usually falls to the bottom of the social order, and some horses will even pick on and ostracize a blind herd mate. Finding a buddy animal for a blind pasture horse is important, and there are some horses that will readily accept this role. These animals can be fixed with an attached bell so that the blind horse will be able to hear and follow or stay close to its companion. Goats and other animals often do well in this special role.

There are times when equine practitioners must deal with selected behavioral issues in order to provide quality care to both their clients and their horses. Unfortunately, because these problems are encountered rather infrequently, many veterinarians might not fully understand how to approach these cases. Identifying the cause of abnormal behavior is the first step, and it can help clients greatly to understand why their horses are acting in unusual ways.


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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