Horses have given us so much since their domestication approximately six thousand years ago.path

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.

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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.

Some examples

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.


  1. I love this post. Very well done, as always. I would like to add that being a responsible horse owner not only means ensuring that your horse has a long and comfortable life…but also ensuring that your horse has a compassionate filled ending to their life. They give us so much, it is up to all of us as responsible horse owners to make sure we are really there for them for those end of life decisions. No horse deserves to be loaded up, sent to an auction, bought by a kill buyer…and made to make that long trip to slaughter house and kill box. That is a horrific and unnecessary end that far too many of our horses has had to experience. The only thing that can change that for all of our American horses is for all of us humans to be responsible horse owners. We MUST step up and be there for them…from beginning to end.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this Gail. So many people leave it to some one else to make that decision. Man up and make that decision. Be there for your horse at the end. It is all part of having them in our lives and at the end of the day they are never truly gone, they live on in that place in our hearts forever running free.