Naughty Horses, Part 6 - Horses that are in pain 🤕

Has your horse suddenly started to misbehave? Acting out of character? Perhaps he’s just having difficulty with something that is normally easy for him?


In the first blog in my ‘Naughty Horses’ mini series I looked at 5 reasons horses can misbehave. Here’s a recap of the 5...


  1. They don’t know what to do

  2. They have learned to respond incorrectly

  3. They are scared

  4. They don’t have enough incentive

  5. They are in pain

In this blog I’m going to look in a little more detail at number 5...👇👇


Horses that are in Pain 🤕


Horses only have two ways to express pain or discomfort:-

  1. To be lame or display some obvious sign

  2. To display pain associated behaviour, this can range from pinning his ears back to more extreme things like bucking or rearing.

Added to this, being prey animals, horses have been designed by nature to mask pain so they don’t get picked out for special attention by a predator! Some horses are real stalwarts who can virtually have a leg falling off before they look like they’re in pain, some are real pansies and are holding their leg in the air from a fly bite, and this is where you really need to know your horse.


How do you know if it’s pain or your horse being naughty? 😳


For me one of the main indications that it might be something pain related is if it’s something that didn’t used to be a problem but now is and there’s no identifiable reason this has changed.


A client came to me with a spooky horse that would suddenly take off, it turned out that one of the reasons the client had originally bought the horse was because of his calm demeanour but at some point this had changed. After discussing the problem I suggested that it might be worth a chat with her vet. It turned out that the horse had stomach ulcers and once these were resolved the horses behaviour improved dramatically. Now if that horse had started spooking at something that he’d had a bad experience with like a dog had chased him and he’d started spooking at dogs then I would have been less inclined to suggest that we contact the vet as there’s a clear experience that has led to the behaviour.🧐