1.3 Reading: Flight Zone
Look at the image below. Horses have a “flight zone” that is like their “personal space”.
You know how you feel when someone moves too close to you. The horse also has its own personal space.
A horse that is confident and comfortable with its handler and its surroundings will have a smaller flight zone. The horse that is nervous and lacks confidence will have a larger personal space or flight zone. This is a horse that should not be crowded. Always be very careful when working around the legs, the rump and tail area and around the head. A nervous or irritated horse can move suddenly and the handler is at risk when a 1200 pound horse decides to flee!
Watch the body language of the horse very carefully before approaching a new horse. Look at the eyes and ears, the head carriage and facial expression. Notice the tension in the muscles of the horse and its behaviour.
A nervous horse will back off when you come closer or will turn its hind end to you. You should quietly encourage the horse to turn around before approaching you.
(note: there is a blind zone directly in front of the horse as well)