grumpy or nervous behavior.
; Less interest in interacting with
other horses, including introduction of a new herd member.
These changes can also be character-
istic of many other issues. It’s essential
to have a thorough physical exam and
lab workup done on a horse demon-
strating poor performance in order to
rule out an underlying disease or injury.
If nothing is found, then a diagnosis of
chronic fatigue may be suggested.
Another significant finding is that
these horses have no difference in
frequency or severity of gastric ulcers
compared to horses that are not suf-
fering from training fatigue.
However, a horse experiencing
gastric ulcers or musculoskeletal pain
has stress plus a demanding work
schedule, which then can bring on
What to Do
As soon as there is recognition that
a horse is suffering from fatigue, the
first step is to provide plenty of rest
for a sufficient time.
The second effective strategy is
to examine possible stressors in a
horse’s life and remove as many as
possible. If turnout is not available,
then the horse should be rested in as
large a paddock as possible and hand-walked at least twice a day.
But it’s far better to prevent the
problem in the first place.
Stress in a horse’s life amplifies the
effects of training, especially when
he performs high-intensity work. You
may not always initially consider the
normal ebb and flow of a competitive
horse’s life as stressful; it’s easy to take
things for granted as long as you see
your horse eating and alert.
Think about what it might be like for
a horse to experience a monotonous
training routine, day after day, with
no variation from riding in circles or
repeatedly practicing skill sets. How
does a horse respond to being stabled