When you teach a horse new things, there is always a little bit of stress involved. If you always stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never learn anything. But what about training young horses?
In one study, 16 young horses were followed in the first weeks of their training. Their stress level was analysed by measuring the cortisol level in their saliva, heart rate and heart rate variability. While the whole process of starting a horse is a stressor, the horses were most stressed during the rider’s first mount. This could be explained as the situation resembles the attack of a predator. As soon as the rider followed the horse’s movements, the stress level went down.
This may seem like the most logical moment, but it’s important to know what causes stress and what doesn’t. For example, more research could be done into ways to make it less stressful.