Anyone who’s been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend questions themselves later if they read too much into the relationship…I guess he wasn’t that into me after all…

Can we read too much into our relationships with our horses?

Earlier this year in Horse and Rider magazine, readers shared how they would describe their relationships with their horses. “Someone to rely on.” “Mama’s boy.” “Peas in a pod.” Comments included “My horse shares my moods, always listens to me, and tests me all the time”.

Everybody is designed with a desire to be understood and loved unconditionally – warts and all. Can we expect this from a horse? Do horses share human emotions or do we gravitate towards relationship so much that we read their responses are from love, humour or scheming rather than pure instinct.

I believe we do our horses a disservice by failing to understand their uniquely equine mind.

When we attribute motives and emotions to them that are uniquely human, it’s called anthropomorphization. 

Film makers and the retail industry bank on the trend over the past 50 years to see horses as  companions. But here’s the rub – the viewpoint of the horse and that of the human is very different. As someone who studies and teaches equine behaviour, I’m increasingly aware that God has wired these animals differently than me.

  • Horses are prey animals. Humans are not. 
  • Horses operate best in a hierarchy – there’s peace when everyone knows their place. Humans must not. 
  •  Horses learn differently than humans. 

 

Thinking like a horse is really the kindest thing we can do for our horses. 


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