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The Horse's "World View"

This part of the Equine Mandala is crucial to our understanding of horses. Through a study of Equine Ethology, we get a better understanding of how a HORSE sees the world. The other half of the person/horse relationship experiences the world differently than we do.


Ethology is the study of animal behavior. This science was developed from the desire to understand how animals behave in their own environment. Ethologists study the spontaneous behaviors and responses to stimuli- again, in their own natural environment. EQUINE Ethologists have studied horse behavior through years by careful observation, and are able to compare their behavior in the wild with their behavior in captivity.

A further specialization- NeuroEthology- studies how the the Central Nervous System (including the brain) gives rise to these behaviors. Even more specialized are the Equine Neuroethologists. There are just a few of these in the world, including Dr. Marthe Kyle Worthington, and their work has been extremely valuable to us in the horse world.

Through the science of equine ethology, we have begun to understand the importance of general physical health as well as their social, emotional and cognitive needs. These needs developed over thousands of years to help their species survive and thrive in their environment.

"Horses have shown that they make an effort to stick together and be nice to each other - they are 'stickers' not 'splitters'.  They work at cementing bonds and deflating potential 'splitting' of the group." (Kiley-Worthington 1998).

Equine Ethology

The way horses view and interact with the world is vastly different than the way we do, in spite of the fact that we are both mammals, and we both have a central nervous system which includes the brain. Horses view the world differently even though they have all the same sensory receptors that we do- taste, hearing, sight, smell, proprioception etc. Understanding what is important to them, and WHY, will expand our capability to work with and live with them in harmony.

What is important to the horse is vastly different from what we find important to us based on our individual needs. This is the first and most challenging thing that must be understood by the person. Once we do, we are well on our way.

When we add this to our equine husbandry, we find a once unresponsive or overly-concerned horse is now responsive to learning, seeking, and in over-all better general health. 


See The blog "Above the Grass"

"Looking through their eyes will open ours."

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