The 3 F’s & the 5 Freedoms
The 5 freedoms are the basics of any animal welfare, and the 3 F’s are the top three basic welfare needs of a horse. These go hand in hand and are our minimum welfare requirement for any horse. Before these needs are met, we cannot even consider any behaviour modification (aka. Training) and oftentimes behavioural problems can be directly be traced bad to a lack of these requirements.
The 5 Freedoms are:
Freedom from Hunger and Thirst.
Freedom from Discomfort.
Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease.
Freedom to Express Normal Behavior.
Freedom from Fear and Distress.
We do not want to train a horse who is lacking any of these 5 freedoms. This is unethical, dangerous and could cause several behavioural issues, or mental injuries to occur.
The 3 F’s are:
Horses are herd animals, they require companionship for their mental wellbeing. Ideally, this would be with familiar horses in the same paddock, but across the fence interactions are a good alternative if group turnout is not possible. Never should a horse be kept without any companionship as a permanent solution.
Horses should have as much turnout as possible, and never should a horse be confined to a stall for 24hrs of the day. They should be able to move freely in different gaits & change directions without difficulty. The more movement the horse can initiate themselves, the better.
Forage is considered hay, hay cubes, straw, grasses, legumes, browse etc. Forage should be available 24/7, this alone greatly reduces the risk of multiple health issues & behavioural problems. Which forage is fed, and how depends on the dietary requirements of the individual horse. A horse should not be without food for any longer than 4 consecutive hours.
If any of these basic needs are not met it highly increases the likelihood of several behavioural issues, including aggression, resource guarding, stereotypical behaviours/vices, reactivity and frustration, all of which increase the risk of training to the human and injury to the horse.
Whenever we see these behavioural issues, the solution is to go back to these basic needs and readdress them.
Fulfilling these basic needs, reduces the risk of physical injuries, increases the mental wellbeing of the horse, and are the first step to allow the horse to be its full self.