The Five Freedoms

The 5 freedoms are:
1) Freedom from hunger and thirst
2) Freedom from discomfort
3) Freedom from pain, injury or disease
4) Freedom from fear or distress
5) Freedom to express normal behavior

As we can see the only thing that isn't a freedom "from" something is the freedom to express normal behavior (species appropriate of course). What are some ways, working specifically with horses in a domestic setting, we can ensure these 5 freedoms?

Some things that come to mind for me are providing slow feeding and enriched feeding opportunities 24/7. As horses were designed to eat little and often hunger can occur in a very short space of time. So enriching the feeding opportunities and slowing down the feeding process is one way to provide freedom from hunger. Thirst of course, water should always be readily available. Anyone care to list some ways
Good health can be assured by proper housing and safe environment, as well as regular vet maintenance and regular observation by the owner/caretakers.

Freedom from fear or distress is certainly something worth discussing. How much fear/stress is acceptable (or even healthy stimulation)? How does our training and other interactions affect this aspect of their care? How does our controlled use of the learning quadrants (rather than natural examples of the quadrants) each effect this freedom?

Last of all, expressing normal behavior... wow that's a huge one! How many of our horses are truly able to express their natural behaviors in a captive environment? I find this freedom to hover in a delicate balance with the freedom from fear, pain, injury freedoms... Not performing natural behaviors can result in poor health, psychologically or physically. While having the freedom to express these natural behaviors may put them at risk of other things, exposure to the elements, risk of injury (the natural behavior of pawing ice to reach water may result in injury to the hoof, exposure to the cold and so on). We can also displace these natural behaviors in unhealthy ways, like pawing at feeding time could become a stereotypic behavior, or in healthy ways, pawing a toy to roll out food. What are some ways we can provide our captive horses with the ability to express species appropriate behaviors, but in a safe and healthy way?

In this also think about social behaviors. Social grooming and playing, how can these be provided in various housing situations, also balancing health and safety. Thinking about horses who don't get along or situations like stallions who aren't currently being bred. What are ways of managing these situations.

<- Back to Training Articles

Skip to toolbar