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Human Views and Equine Behavior

PDF Two conflicting philosophies about nature still exist. One believes in exploitation and the other in harmony. When these philosophies are applied to horses, they lead to conflicting beliefs about equine abilities and the best ways to manage horses. The first philosophy believes that horses are stupid animals that exist to serve humans and must be dominated by them. The second one believes horses are unique individuals with unusual abilities and that they can form partnerships with humans. Scientific research can tell us which philosophy uses the most correct assumptions. Humans need to see horses as they really are, not as they believe or want them to be. An innovative approach to communication reveals new equine abilities and how our beliefs will influence equine behavior. These beliefs can be divided into four views about equine nature and management styles. Horses can sense our views and adjust their behavior to fit into our expectations. Regardless of the equestrian discipline, such adjustments will affect many critical training issues. Human beliefs have greatly hindered our understanding of how we communicate with our horses. Riders use hand, leg, and balance aids to tell horses what they want them to do. When these cues develop into a language of touches, our theories have failed to adequately explain how horses can understand them. Behaviorism provides an excellent explanation of how trick training works, but cannot explain how horses can understand our aids at any location and in any situation. A new answer to this age old puzzle comes out of a detailed analysis of equine cognitive abilities and the language of the aids.

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