Horses are prey animals, those who are eaten by other
animals like wolves, bears and wild pigs. The ones who protected
themselves the best, survived. They have eyes on either side of
their head so they can see almost all the way around themselves. Their
hearing is much better than ours so they can hear an animal sneaking up
on them; and they have powerful hind legs so they can kick and run fast.
Over many years man has bred the horse to be more gentle. Even so, the
horse still has those instincts. You have probably noticed that some
horses are calmer, while some are still very nervous. Anything they see as
strange goes into the predator category at first. A paper bag, a tarp,
blowing paper, a strange loud noise or a strange smell. When they get
frightened they can panic, either flee-run away-or fight-bite or kick.
Humans are predators. A horse can even tell if we
eat meat by our scent, so we have to make sure we donít act like predators
to gain their trust. We can gain their trust with time and patience.
.When we approach them, we walk up to them calmly and
purposefully and approach them from the shoulder. A predator would sneak
up and attack from the back or the neck, or grab their face.
Horses canít see directly in front or behind them
because their eyes are on the sides of their face. Thatís why a horse
shies away when you try to rub his nose or his forehead. Try touching his
neck or shoulder instead. When a horse is looking ahead, he sees, like we
do. When looking off to the side though, each eye has a different view.
The left eye might be looking at a squirrel on the fence while the right
eye is watching a horse approaching from the other side. Try putting your
fist in between your eyes and see what a horse sees.
We can use our voice and touch to let them know where
we are and what we are doing. If we are going to pick up their foot, we
run our hand down their leg; if we are going to walk behind them, we put
our hand on their hindquarters and talk to them. Horses remember their
mothers licking them with their tongues when they were young, so to show
affection or calm a horse you stroke them instead of pat them. All these
things together teach a horse to trust us. Even if a horse is nervous, you
can eventually show him you are not a predator with repetition and