Equine Welfare

PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Equine Tips

The PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee encourages positive and engaging educational exploration from our readers - we'd love to hear your feedback! Please let us know if you have any questions about our tip or have a suggestion about specific topics you would be interested in learning more about in the future. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee chair. Thank you!

Please join us on Community Connections!  
We invite you to participate in lively, thought-provoking, and sometimes controversial discussions on the online PATH Intl. Equine Welfare community group. No matter your specific interests (EFP, therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, carriage driving, interactive vaulting, etc.), they ALL involve working with equine partners. This is the resource for all PATH Intl. members to exchange ideas, ask questions, offer comments and suggestions, and “pick the brains” of some of our industry’s most experienced and qualified people. Click here to access the Equine Welfare Community group. You will need to be logged in. If you have any questions about joining the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Community group, please email the moderator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Monthly Webinars
The PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee is hosting monthly webinars on Equine Care & Welfare for Therapy Horses. Please join us! You can find dates for these webinars on the PATH Intl. website and in the PATH Intl. eNews. To sign up for the webinars, log in to the PATH Intl. website and go to the PATH Intl. online Store then “purchase” the webinar (at no cost!) and you will be sent an email with information on how to sign in to the webinar you “purchased.” Please note: There are a limited number of attendee spaces available for each webinar, so if you do not see the monthly webinar you wish to “purchase” listed in the store, this means that particular webinar is full.

Grooming: Building a Connection

By Marcie Ehrman, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee member

During our monthly equine welfare committee conference call, I agreed to write a “Tips” article on flies. I actually did start writing the article. And then, while grooming my pony, I began to think about the meaning of the words, “grooming as ceremony,” one of the topics we discussed in a planning session for our presentation at the International Conference. No spoiler alert here – it just made me think about the enormous value of spending time observing, bonding & connecting with your horse while engaged in the seemingly ordinary task of grooming.

Starting out, observe your horse’s demeanor and his mood. Is he attentive or distracted, relaxed or tense? Allow all your senses to partake in the experience – (well, maybe not taste!). Really see him – focus large and take in the whole vision of him; then focus in and observe his hair coat, his muscling, the contours of his feet – every minute detail. Pay attention to his eyes, his ears, his jaw set, his mouth and lips. Watch the movement of his tail. Observe his breathing – is it fast or slow, deep or shallow, regular or irregular, and does it change during the grooming session? Notice his stance – does he tend to cock one hind leg more than another? Does he prefer standing with one particular leg forward or back? Does he lower his head as grooming progresses? Have you found his “lippy spots” (those places that feel so good when brushed or curried that his upper lip will move as if he is offering to return the favor)? Play with using minimal gesture, words and touch to ask him to pick up each foot. Refine these over time – you will probably find him offering you his feet (in sequence) with just a light touch or even a word or signal. Work toward using ever more subtle cues to ask him to lower his head, back up or step sideways. Observe & feel his legs – familiarize yourself with the muscle, bone and joint structures, the ridges and hollows. Use your hands to feel for any swellings, lumps, bumps or temperature changes as you move them down his legs and around his hooves.  Breathe in his smell, listen to him inhale & exhale and enjoy the rumbling of his gut sounds. Mentally check in with him periodically throughout the grooming session; learn to recognize any changes in demeanor and degree of relaxation, whether obvious or subtle. Allow yourself to feel very present with him.

So next time you pick up a curry comb or body brush – really “tune in” to your horse, and transform a routine task into a truly bonding experience.

Please share your experiences “tuning in to your horse” at PATH Intl. community connections page.






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