Plenty. Living with humans is no picnic for horses-- our lifestyles are just not compatible! Equine physiology has evolved for horses to live in small family groups on vast grassy plains, traveling 5-25 miles per day at moderate speeds, grazing for 18-20 hours each day, with changing forage by the season. Constant movement and constant eating determine the shape of their hooves and dentition.
By contrast, our domestic horses often live in tiny boxes not much longer than their bodies, isolated from each other's touch by walls, eating pre-cut forage and concentrated carbohydrates intermittently, and getting out for very brief periods of exercise, sometimes quite strenuous. The ground surface they live on and the ground surface they exercise on are often very different. The consistently pre-processed nature of their food wears their teeth unevenly. Fallible humans manage the modification of their hooves and their teeth.
Recent research has shown that Abnormal Compensatory Posture (ACP) is associated with higher metabolic costs, poor performance and training problems, body distortion, chronic lameness, impaired nerve signaling, poor gait timing, predisposition to injury, delayed healing and pervasive physical and emotional stress.
Causes of ACP
- Restricted exercise -- without appropriate ground surfaces and varied terrain to stimulate the nervous system.
- Dietary changes -- eating precut hay and over-processed feed in unnatural positions changes chewing patterns, alters digestion, affects TMJ function and physical and physiologic balance.
- Forceful restraint, training or accidents -- getting shanked, corrected, “rollküred,” pulling against halters, or other accidents can damage the delicate structures of the head, neck and spine.
- Improper hoof balance and distortions -- especially long toes, distort neurologic signals about balance and weight bearing.
- Inaccurate dental care -- results in malocclusions that alter normal jaw movement and give inappropriate information to the postural mechanisms.