Horses have always been the symbol of strength and freedom. For the most part horses are used as working and performing animals. They have a great mystique about them but, a lot of what we have learned to believe about them may not be totally true. Here are five myths about horses that you might find interesting:
Myth #1: Horses are dumb.
People quite often say that horses are just dumb animals. That couldn't be further from the truth. A horse may not do what you command it to do but, that doesn't mean the animal is stupid. It may be that the owner is just not effectively communicating what they want from the horse. A horse can quickly sense if a person is a clear communicator or not. If they think they can get away with not doing something, they will do so. The performance is only as good as the horseman and how he communicates what he needs to the horse.
Myth #2: Horses love to jump and run.
In the enthusiasm of running a course of jumps, barrel racing or executing a perfect 20 in meter circle, a horseman may feel that because their horse is doing such a great job of executing these things they must love to do it. But, have you ever seen a horse do any of this without human prompting? Your horse probably likes hanging out with its friends, nibbling on grass and roaming about the pasture. However, they may have qualities that make them more adept at certain sports but this doesn't mean they like them better.
Myth #3: Horses are like dogs.
Some may say that a horse is just like a dog but do they really know these two animals and their distinct differences? Horses and dogs are actually very different animals. A dog may like the same sort of foods as humans do and like to sleep in a warm bed. Humans and dogs both live in packs and can survive by hunting. Horses are herbivores and are prey that hunters once hunted and ate. Their social structure is much different from ours, or from a dogs. Horses are not companion animals and can not be let off a leash and be expected to stay near us.
Myth #4: Horses communicate by making noises.
Although this is partially true, horses do not carry on a conversation with other horses by using squeals, screams and such noises. They are usually very quiet animals. They may use whinnying and neighing to communicate but, for the most part, they communicate a good portion of the time by using body language. You may see them with ears back or whipping their tales rather than vocalizing.
Myth #5: Riding a horse is very easy.
Riding a horse is not just sitting on its back and letting it do all of the work. A good horseman can make riding look easy but your muscles after a ride may tell you something completely different. A dressage or reiner performance may look like the horse is going through the patterns on their own but they are not. The use of balance, weight, legs and arms, even the brain, are all body parts that are used in riding. Signals become less obvious and more refined as you become a better rider.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.