Similarities and differences

Horses cannot understand what we say, but they understand the way we say it, and then they know if they can trust us…


  • #horsemanship
  • #communication

The similarities and differences between our species are what actually makes us closer, making our bond with them possible. Horses are prey animals whose safety depends on the pack leader and his ability to avoid danger. In its natural habitat, the pack is protected by a stallion and led by a female. Domestic horses understand and need a reliable guide and know how to recognize their place within the pack. Horses cannot understand what we say, but they understand the way we say it, and then they know if they can trust us. On the basis of this trust, they are able to follow a man through fire and overcome their fear of danger, while a man, or rider, who acts like a bully, is a coward, or is insecure, transmits discomfort and nervousness to them, thus putting horses and men in a situation of distrust and risk.
Our education allows us to understand the instinctive fondness of horses for reliable leaders and trusted relationships. The traditional concept of family, in fact, is not based on control or imposition, nut on trust in the wisdom and credibility of the parent who leads the family. Children see their father and mother as trustworthy guides and they feel safe with them. In this aspect, we are similar to horses because, like them, we want to be led and kept safe until, one day, we will defend our own children. We seek to establish relationships based on trust and mutual understanding. If we are forced to submit to fear, we respond by rebelling. Horses behave in the same way.
What we seek is the right space in which to interact, cooperating for mutual security, whatever condition the man-horse combination is in. This is the starting point of the relationship between man and horse. By their nature, horses first fear us, and then they follow us...

From the beginning of civilization, horses have played a key role, first as a food source, then as means of postal transport, as tireless workers in agriculture, and so on... The chance of using them as a means of transportation opened men to the possibility of travel and trade. With the advent of industry and technology, 'horsepower' soon replaced their 'utilitarian' role. Yet our relationship with horses over the years has gone beyond mere convenience; if we leave out the competitive aspect, they can become life, play, fun partners. Horse training methods have changed over the years, leading us not so much to understand horses, as much as to understand ourselves. The more we are unable to understand ourselves and to make progress, the more we go in search of new methods and complex techniques to dominate horses, when in reality all we need to do is listen and understand them, in order to interact with them. Our tendency to impose our point of view leads training methods to undergo constant changes. Trainers can change their mind and try to impose themselves in every way and by all means, but horses remain the same, driven from their natural instinct and by a typical feature: habit. If they want, horses can be stronger than us. A horse who is frightened or taken by force can set himself free if he wants, running away or rebelling with all his strength, and yet it is amazing to see how horses remain motionless when a child hugs one of their legs...

Horses were a necessary means of transport before cars were invented, essential for agriculture until the invention of the tractor; they transported people for thousands and thousands of kilometers in times of peace and war, across continents and scenarios in which they were not born. They were abandoned at the end of battles or when stocks ran out and they were left to survive as best as they could; this gave them the ability to continuously adapt to new environments. Many died of their wounds, hunger, cold, or exhaustion. The value of horses, however, goes far beyond their speed and strength, because it consists of their desire to interact with humans in a friendly way.