They gave us power and advantage as cavalry mounts. They carried our wares as pack animals. They pulled our wagons and helped us create new civilizations all over the world. Once we settled, they plowed our fields and provided us with means to grow food.
Nowadays, horses have taken a back seat to mechanized equipment. They are owned mainly for sport or pleasure, sometimes taking on the role of a pet.
Yet they continue to give.
They give by becoming our companions, our teammates, our recreational pursuits; they help us grow, learn and play.
At this point, it's our turn to give back. However, we need to keep in mind that horses are prey animals and long-time domesticated livestock. If we listen well enough, we discover that what we think of as giving might not be what the horses truly need.
As owners of these magnificent animals, it is our responsibility to prepare them for a life within the environment and structure in which we live. By taking on horse ownership, we are taking on the duty of caring for and training our horses in such a way that enables them to survive well in our social structures.
In other words, our horses should be trained sufficiently to be suitably socialized to do well in a human-ized environment. Unless we can buy 20,000 acres (or more) of pasture land with plenty of natural resources to support a herd of untouched (wild) horses, it becomes our duty to help our horses know how to get by in this world of the human.
Our horses should not bite. They should not kick people. They should allow people to handle them in a way that keeps people safe from harm.
And it falls to us to teach them socially appropriate behavior - because the bottom line is that if the horse does not respond appropriately in regards to humans, it will be the horse that suffers in the long run - and potentially be put down for his dangerous or unacceptable behavior.
How to Be A Responsible Horse Owner
There are so many aspects of responsible horse ownership:
- simple horse training of day-to-day tasks
- bring a horse along carefully and compassionately as a young horse
- have an intrinsic lifelong passion for learning all things "horse" (the desire for self-improvement)
- represent a horse honestly and ethically when presenting him for sale
- teach people who are new to horses in a similarly responsible manner, even if they have (possibly misguided) ideas of their own
Whether you own a foal, a young horse, or an old-timer, always be aware of your responsibility to your horse. Being a good horse listener and responsible owner means that you get to "give back" in a way that ensures a long and comfortable life for your horse - even in a humanized environment!
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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Other titles you may enjoy:
Do You Want to Own A Horse? Answer ‘yes’ to these questions and you are on your way!
5 Life Lessons From Horses: If we can learn anything from horses, it is that many concepts hold true as clearly in life as they do in the world of horses.
When Do You Start Riding Your Horse? This question was being posed to me by a very respected and horse-wise mentor one day long ago, early in my riding development.
A Cautionary Horse Tale: Once you decide to ride horses, you put into place a domino effect of consequences, which will occur whether you are conscious of them or not. It’s like a rule of nature.
The Truth About Balance: We all strive for balance – in our position, our seat, our movement with the horse.