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The relationship between man and horse goes back to the earliest days of civilization. Horses have been used for labor, transportation means, getting crops in, bringing crops to the buyers, etc. Having horses was often a sign of wealth and they meant a great deal to their owners, but they can also be mistreated and handled roughly too. Here are some things your horse would like you to know.

Humans are Predators to Them

Horses are herd animals and they view humans as predators. They believe they are the prey. We trap them, we halter them, we force them to do our will and this can be unsettling to them.

The more you work with your horse so they understand what is happening and what you want from them, so that they can do it without being trapped and forced into it, the more likely you’ll start working together as a team and this is the goal that you should be working toward.

Your horse will be far more secure when they feel that you are a trusted teammate, rather than the predator that may end up killing them in the end. Prey animals always have this concern. It’s natural. 

Humans are predators and we manipulate our environment to suit us, which includes the animals in our lives. To a large extent, horses are distrustful of us and fearful of us because of the way we force our will upon them. Your horse would like you to understand this and move toward working together with less physical catch, roping, cornering, etc.


Give Them Clear Directions and Boundaries

Punishment isn’t necessary to horses. When they act out or get out of line, it’s typically because there weren’t clear enough rules and boundaries for them to understand. Horses are very smart creatures and they don’t need punishment to drive a point home.

What they need are very clear directions so that they may follow the rules and they will tow the line. Horses are adaptable and prefer to get along. Being herd animals, they understand ‘go with the flow’ better than most animals that we have in our lives. A horse will work hard in exchange for food, a kindly scratch of the forehead, and a brushing.

Punishing a horse is only reinforcing their fear of us as predators and it does nothing to truly improve their behavior. Work with a trainer if you don’t know how to accomplish this with your horse. It isn’t difficult to learn how to set proper rules and boundaries with them and reward them for good behavior too. 

When a horse is punished constantly, he becomes unreliable and will act out more and more. He may buck a rider who is overzealous with a crop and he may start charging at fences in flight mode.

As a herd animal, his instinct is to run from fear. If he cannot go anywhere, he may continue to run at fences and even try to charge through, injuring himself or others. This is a human fault, not the fault of the horse. They don’t understand punishment.


They Look to You for Guidance

Many times they will stop when being ridden if they see something that is scary or out of the norm. They may slow down on come to a complete stop. This is their way of seeking guidance from you. Talk them through it. Be gentle and encouraging.

Dismount and lead them through a fearful situation. Do not kick them or whip them for stopping. You’ll create a horse that stops asking for your advice and simply learns that charging on is the answer to every fear, which is dangerous. 

You can easily create an animal that weighs 1200 pounds or more, which thinks that the best way to handle any stressful situation is to bolt as fast as he can. This is very dangerous and can cost him his life, and the lives of humans as well.

Let your horse ask you questions, allow his curiosity and give him assurance and guidance in return. Give him kindness and courtesy, reward him by listening to him. Horses are inquisitive and actually do try to communicate with humans. They learn very quickly and they are capable of adapting. He needs to learn to trust you. If you punish him, all trust is lost.


 Read More:

How To Protect Your Horse From Flies