Understanding Your Horse


Learning from the experiences of others can provide the fastest route to knowledge. Great teachers such as Linda Tellington Jones – TT.E.A.M., Sally Swift’s Centered Riding, John Lyons Training Methods, Monty Roberts and many others share their talents at clinics and in books and video.

One of the best places for great information is the Jessica Jahiel: Holistic Horsemanship® web site and newsletter. Jessica’s advice is simply excellent. Visit her searchable archives for answers to many common horse questions.

Articles and Websites for further study

Monty Roberts
Monty Roberts

There are so many sites now that offer articles and information on understanding your horse and improving your relationships or riding that I will link them below in alphabetical order:

Jessica Jahiel: Holistic Horsemanship® web site, newsletter and searchable archives
Ray Hunt, Master of Communication
John Lyons
Wisdom Horse – Shelly Moore, Oregon. An advanced level TT.E.A.M. practitioner, Shelly has knowledge of many homeopathic and alternative treatments.
Pat Parelli Natural Horsemanship (official site)
Karen Pryor (clicker training)
Mark Rashid horse training
Monty Roberts
Sally Swift’s Centered Riding
Linda Tellington-Jones, TT.E.A.M
Mary Wanless Ride with Your Mind

Additional Resources

You can often order books directly through the websites listed above of the author you are interested in. The most complete source for hard to find books, videos and software specifically about horses are Equine Research Inc. and the Russell Meerdink Horse Information Center.

Animal Communicators such as Annette Betcher can assist you in understanding your horse’s behavior.

Short tips on horse nature by Equine info

Learning from personal experience is also very important. The more you understand your horse’s nature, the better your relationship will become. One of the best ways to learn why your horse reacts the way it does is to watch a group of loose horses interact. Here are some examples:

Does your horse bite or nibble at you when being groomed?

Horse bite
Horse bite

Notice two horses standing head to tail grooming each other with their teeth? Maybe the last time your horse tried to nibble on you he was just trying to reciprocate the way he would with his buddy in the pasture. You have to let him understand that this isn’t acceptable, but realize that his intention was probably not aggression.

Why do horse shy away when you pet them on the face?

Does your horse shy away if you move your hand directly towards his face? Did you know that horses have blind spots because of the way their eyes focus? To understand how limited a horse’s vision is directly in front of his face, place your hands in front of your face with the fingers pointed up and pressed together over your nose. Have a friend bring their hand directly toward your eyes. What do you see? Your horse probably sees even less. When you walk up to a horse, rub it on the neck or shoulder instead of going straight for his face so he can see you.

Why are orphan foals so much harder to handle?

Watch a mare interact with her foal. Notice that she will tolerate a certain amount of playfulness, nipping and climbing on her, but eventually she will “school” her foal. Watch carefully: note that she warns with her ears, by swinging her head or threatening with a foot. If none of this brings the foal into line, she may even kick him but not hard enough to hurt him. An orphan foal needs another horse or human to teach it the manners he would have learned from the mare.

You always hear don’t walk behind a horse. Do they all kick?

Although there are a few horses that will intentionally kick at you, most of the time a horse kicks at someone behind them it is because directly behind a horse is another blind spot. Consider that in the wild a horse’s predators would approach from behind and you’ll understand why many horses kick first and determine the source later. Make sure the horse knows you are there and you aren’t likely to get kicked. Play it safe anyway, though, and either walk right next to them (after letting them know you are there) or walk so far behind that they can’t kick you.