Day 8 - Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Trailer?

100 days Oct 08, 2017

I often get asked out to teach horses to trailer load - you remember from Day 6's email, "my horse is perfect, but .....". What I invariably found was, not only a very fearful horse but often an owner even more overcome with fear and anxiety.

I know this because I make it a habit of putting heart rate monitors on both horse and owner! We can't know what we don't measure, right?

This is how the lesson goes - I put the heart rate monitors on the owner and the horse. I then train the horse to load and unload quietly and calmly (usually about 40mins to 1 hour). The owner then loads and unloads the horse a few times and I go home and analyse the heart rate data.

Initially, the horse's heart rates go up and heart rate variability drops a little (an indicator of stress that I'll discuss tomorrow). The surprising one is the owner's heart rate. The variation shown in these parameters is MUCH greater for the owners than the horses, indicating much more anxiety in the owners.

Of course, once the owners are loading and unloading the horse themselves, their heart rates normalise, again evidence for training your horse yourself - the thing that lessens anxiety is doing NOT seeing.

See you next time for a look at heart rate variability.

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