Humanize the Horse
Author: Jorge Lisandro Montiel


If you read or talk about this issue you´ll realize how easily people humanize horses -or their relation to them.

I know this behaviour is carried out with the best of intentions, but this attitude is a mistaken one, becuase it leads to a series of misunderstandings which don´t make easy the relation between both species, which are so different from each other.

My favourite phrase is "horses cannot stop being horses" . It might sound at first somehow obvious and superfluous, not deserving any comments about it. But, it´s not like this; all my work with horses and the way I relate to them is based upon this sentence.


Horses don´t have any other responsability than being horses, it´s us the ones that have the obligation to think and act like "horses" (no for other reason we have labelled ourselves a "rational and thinking being"). We need to develop breaking in methods -and how to teach them- that horses can understand and comprehend easily. If they don´t make it to this goal, it´ll be our own fault, not theirs .

You can feel this "humanization" of hoses in the adjectives used to label them as "good, bad, good natured, brave, coward", etc, etc. Television and cartoons have also contributed to this, as well as poorly skilled teachers lacking the necessary knoweledge and didactic/pedagogic skills.
Horses don´t understand about these concepts. If ever there existed a Brave horse, this kind of horse would have got soon extinguised.. eaten by predators. The ones that managed to make their way up to our days, relied in the "flight instinct", which from our human point of view, would be the Coward ones. We also wrongly label horses as Cowards to those that get spooky because the don´t trust their rider as the proper leader who can guide them and protect them -that´s why they might seem scared-.
This notion of "good" and "evil" only belongs to men, never to an animal. An agressive horse can be so easily confused with a bad one, but for a horse to become bad, it must have taken so much suffering from ill treatment derived from humans. Horses are tranquille , shy animals which never create conflictive situation. on the contrary, they try to evade them. In order to stablish a good understanding and relationship with horses, humans must have the adequate knowledge, because "horses cannot stop being horses".
It´s us the ones that have to learn how to associate with horses. They already know how to read our body language, but we don´t know how to interpret theirs. This comes only after many hours of observation and study, and not precisely of captive horses traumatized by enclosure environment, but from free horses that interact between them. This is the only way to just start mumbling their "idiom".

Horses know how to read our gestures and body attitudes, Thus, you can see a horse putting a begginner rider into difficulties, and the very same horse becoming obedient and dócile when mounted by an expert, without the latter adopting any violent or threatening measure. This happens because the animal perceives a difference in attitude betweeen the different riders.


Unfortunately, we are still at a long distance to understand -and that´s when the laugh of my listeners will dissppear- what I mean by "to be a good rider, first you have to learn to be a horse". What I mean with this is that academical and technical knowledge tought by the different Horse Riding Schools is not enough to teach, guide and ride an animal that is still unknownto us. We need to have a profound and solid knowledge about the animal first. That´s why I think that he that doesn´t learn to be a horse, will never get to really know horses, let alone understanding them .

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