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Buying a horse property might be one of the most expensive purchases you ever make -
Understanding why horses behave they way they do is the key to having a better relationship with your horse. For their sake and yours, don’t make assumptions about horse behaviour, get the facts.
I wish this book had been out when I bought my first horse property, it would have saved me a lot of anguish. I love the check list and I am using it as we look for our next property. Vicky, Texas, USA
This book has brought up so many points that I just would not have thought about if I had not read it. Thanks a million! Bob, Nottingham, UK
So many great pictures and such a straightforward way of explaining how to work out what is important, and what is not. Kirsty, Geelong, Australia
This book covers all of the important things about horse behaviour and the information comes from correct scientific sources. Mel, Brisbane, Australia
I now have a far better understanding of my horse whereas before I used to think my horse was behaving a certain way on purpose. Sarah, Devon, UK
Fun to read, great pictures, thanks Jane for making this subject so easy to understand. Pip, NZ
Oct 2015 to June 2016
Australia inc. QLD, NSW and VIC (maybe TAS too). Lots of Healthy Land, Healthy Pasture, Healthy Horses talks and some HRM riding clinics scheduled.
June 2016 to Oct 2016
Mainly UK, France and possibly other European destinations.
Oct 2016 to June 2017
The Workshops and Clinics page of this website is a good place to find out what we are doing and when.
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The authors and publishers of the Equiculture and Horse Rider’s Mechanic websites, social media pages, books and other resources shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in or on them. While the information is as accurate as the authors and publisher can make it, there may be errors, omissions and inaccuracies.
Learn how to improve your balance so that you feel more secure when riding. This book is the second in this series and it shows you how to increase your balance. It contains 18 lessons for you to follow in your own time.
Learn how to improve your own position so that you ride to the best of your ability. This book is a step by step guide to correcting your own position so that you ride as straight as possible. Your horse will thank you for it!
What a simple way to improve balance, I now teach this method to all of my students, from beginners to advanced. Fiona, Toronto, Canada
I am now much closer to achieving a truly ‘independent seat’. Feeling secure and confident. Bring on the next book! Megan, Cambridge, UK
This book is very easy to follow and has saved me money. My own instructor is great but she does not cover these fundamental basics. Thank you Jane for making it so easy to improve my riding, Jan. Kent, UK
The best book I have ever come across on this so important subject. Easy to read and easy to implement. Jan, South Australia
This book sorted out my problem with ‘wonky’ ankles and I can now ride pain free. Megan, Cambridge, UK
Where have you been all my life Jane? This book should have been written years ago! I would say this book is essential reading for riders and riding coaches alike. Linda, Melbourne, Australia
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© Equiculture and Horse Rider’s Mechanic 2000 -
Horse Ownership -
Understanding horse behaviour
We owe it to domestic horses to understand and acknowledge their natural behaviour. We also need to understand their fundamental physical and behavioural characteristics both for our safety and theirs. This also allows us to be able to train them without undue stress (see the Horse training…→ page) and to provide the correct living conditions for them.
As humans it is very easy to assume that animals ‘are just like us’ and that they want the same things that we do. This can lead to welfare issues because it means that we may ignore what horses really need and instead only provide what we think horses need.
Domestic horses have no input into who owns them, how they are kept and what their owners do to them therefore it is very important that we understand their behaviour so that we can continually strive to improve the way that we keep them.
What horses are
The horse is a large, grazing herbivore that lives in a herd when in a natural environment. Horses are part of the equine family. The equine family includes Donkeys, Zebra and wild Asses. In their natural environment, horses are hunted by predators such as large felines and canines (although in modern times many of their natural predators have become endangered or extinct in the wild). The domestic horse has been manipulated by breeding programs to range in size from very large (more than 19hh) to very small (less than 8hh). Apart from size differences all horses share the same fundamental physical and behavioural characteristics.
Most domesticated horses have been trained, to a lesser or greater degree, to become accustomed (habituated) to humans and various sights and sounds. They have also usually been trained to override their natural instincts while being handled and ridden.
But, even the best trained horse can revert to instinctive behaviour in certain circumstances, depending on their individual behavioural characteristics, their level of training and on how scary the situation (stimulus) is. So in order to keep ourselves, and them, safe, we need to understand what is frightening to a horse and what we can do to reduce that fear.
Domestic horses still possess all of their natural behavioural characteristics and can become stressed if they are not allowed to carry these behaviours. For example grazing, playing and mutual grooming are all part of natural horse behaviour.
Unnatural behaviours such as fence walking, crib biting and weaving come about when a horse is stressed due to imposed restrictions that prevent natural social and grazing/eating behaviours.
Due to outdated thinking many horse owners are led to think that it is good horse management to separate a horse permanently from other horses ‘for his or her own safety’, and to have a horse standing around for hours on end with nothing to do and not enough fibre to eat. These practices have become normalised in the horse industry and this is a very sad situation for the domestic horse.
Understanding horse behaviour is a very important part of caring for horses. It is very easy to convince yourself that your horse is content to do all of the things that you enjoy, but a much better approach is to understand that your horse has very different needs to you. Horses see the world quite differently to humans; they react to situations in a way that can seem illogical to us, but they do this because they have behaviours that have evolved over millions of years and ensured their survival. Horse behaviour is linked closely to their physiology and this is what makes a horse, a horse.
You can begin reading this book (for free!) right here on this website…
Any animal kept in captivity, such as zoo animals, also resort to unnatural behaviours if their living conditions are poor. This is why in modern times (in the better zoos) the animals tend to have better enclosures and their keepers continuously strive to ‘enrich’ their environment with other stimulating activities that whenever possible encourage natural behaviours. Unfortunately, in the horse world many horses are still being kept using outdated management systems that do not take natural horse behaviour into account and would actually be regarded as unacceptable practices in a modern zoo!
The equiculture website strives to provide lots of information about what you can do to improve the ‘lifestyle’ of your horse/s.
Just to get you started, here are a couple of short articles about horse behaviour:
Our book of course! You can begin reading A Horse is a Horse -
The Nature of Horses Steven Budiansky (1998) Orion Books Ltd, London.
The Behaviour of the Horse Fraser AF (1992) Cab International, UK.
The Behaviour of Horses -
Equine Behavior Paul McGreevy (2004) Saunders, Sydney, Australia.
The Truth about Horses : A Guide to Understanding and Training Your Horse Andrew McLean (2003)
Equine Behaviour: Principles and Practice Mills D & Nankervis K (1999) Blackwell Science, London.
Horse Behaviour Waring GH (1983) Noyes Publications, New Jersey.