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LET HORSES BE HORSES-1

Dennis on the muck heap

There are of course many similarities between humans and horses. We are part of the same kingdom (Animals), are mammals, have muscles and so on. But there are clearly also big differences and in this series of articles I want to talk about a few of them. Imagine if you put us out in a field and told us that would be where we would be for the rest of our lives apart from the occasional ride out with another animal on our back pushing and prodding us around. We clearly wouldn't last very long and would indeed become bored (not least!) and look for any way we could to escape. I was wondering today if horses do actually get bored. Of course one of the main problems we have with horses is that we cannot verifiably communicate directly with them so everything we say is interpretation at some level. We often talk about making training sessions interesting or ensuring the horse doesn't get bored but what is that based on? What could be more boring than eating for 12-16 hours a day? In our opinion horses can't get bored as this requires a different type of intelligence which animals don't have (not saying good or bad just that they don't). They are always in the now. They have to be. They are still wild at heart and must always be on the look out for predators. When we are working with them they have not the faintest idea what is going to happen from one moment to the next: first this way, then that. Stop. Go. Walk. Canter. Trot. Left, right etc. You get the picture. Humans can try for a while to be in the now but the cerebral cortex usually gets in the way unless you are a monk or ascetic living in a cave in the Himalayas. It is this ability to be in the now that means they cannot get bored. If you think about it boredom comes from wishing you were somewhere else doing something more interesting imagining a different time or place, wanting to be somewhere different possibly with someone different. 

 

Samsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, HerefordSamsara Equitation Equine Rehab Centre - nr. Whitney-on-Wye, Hereford