What we know about him?
Know the nature and the mind of horses is a duty for those who deal with them
- #equine science
Horses were first addomesticated about 6.000 years ago. Yet only in the last two decades have scientists begun to explore the specific mental capacities of these animals.
Do we now know everything there is to know about the nature of the horse? Hardly!
French general Alexis L’Hotte wrote in his book ‘Questions Equestres’: “The vast equestrian truths have come to the fore in all ages and belong to all schools… All horsemen, endowed with the spirit of observation and with considerable practical experience, have been able to make certain statements which have not been made by their predecessors or which escaped them; for the knowledge and use of the horse presents an endless field of research and observation”.
Moreover, the knowledge accumulated through the centuries has left incomplete traces, the fruit of an essentially oral tradition, with the exception of those relating to riding. The importance of scientific work on animal and human learning conducted throughout the twentieth century classified, formulated and validated the empirical observations accumulated over time by trainers.
For example: “Regardless of the method employed, progress will advance all the more rapidly if errors are promptly eradicated…” and “Progression in the schooling of the horse must be graduated, because gradual progress is the main road to success” wrote general L’Hotte; in his well-known aphorism “Calm, forward, straight”, which is basic to proper equitation, the first two terms refer to aspects related to what could be called the psychology of the horse, that is, ensuring the animal’s emotional stability and mobilizing attentinal and motivational processes.
Moreover, in the twentieth century, the development of ethology, that is the biological study of behaviour – and specifically since 1970 equine ethology – has clearly shown how much remains to be learned about the true nature of the horse.
The literature on the behaviour of horses in the wild grew markedly in the 1970. Since then a profusion of magazine articles and books on the ethology of the horse have been written. Over the last years the ethology of the horse has acquired legitimacy. “Ethological equitation’ may be regrettably confused with the genuine ethology of the horse, but at least ita s the virtue of leading more and more riders to think of their horse as an individual member of a species with his own characteristics and neither a machine or a human clone!
The closer we get to the ethology study, the more horses benefit.