Why are horses so obedient? It’s in their temperament.

Horses are obedient because they have a strong willingness to cooperate with their human companions. There will cooperate as best they can. This strong willingness to cooperate originates in their temperament which stems from their sociable lifestyle in the wild. The horse is naturally sociable and by nature a herd animal. They live in small groups where they have a strong instinct to cooperate. This innate instinct is transferred to humans in the horse-human relationship.

Noble and obedient horse companion

Noble and obedient horse companion. Photo: Pixabay.

Because the human is the more intelligent and dominant partner, the horse is always the lesser partner. The human comes out on top both in terms of riding a horse i.e. physically and psychologically.

The horse’s good-natured temperament has allowed abuses to take place by humans. We know about them both past and present. In the late 19th century, in London, horses pulled omnibuses in city centres and at the end of their exhausting life their reward was a trip to the knacker’s yard. And distinguished racehorses have been killed inhumanely and sometimes in front of other horses at abattoir.

And when they are very athletic and can become a racehorse, they accept the abnormality of their lifestyle with long durations in between highly intense and exhausting racing. Racehorse owners say they like it but animal advocates are not so sure.

RELATED: Tasmania: PETA want to prove that horse whipping during a race is animal cruelty.

There is a large group of people who adore horses and perhaps they sense the horse’s potential vulnerability to human abuse and to compensate provide tender loving care and protection. There are people who take advantage of the horses temperament and abuse them such as the casual horse whipper which I wrote about not so long ago.

He became frustrated with his horse and whipped it. The two-time Olympic champion Sir Mark Todd was videoed beating a horse with a branch 10 times because the horse was reluctant to jump over a modest water hazard. That’s cruelty and he admitted it. The horse was eager to please but couldn’t do it and was struck with a branch. Perhaps people are used to the horse’s obedience so when they are disobedient or do not do exactly as the human wants, they can be abused by a frustrated owner or rider.

RELATED: Why do horses “walk the fence”?

Perhaps the owner thinks that the horse is misbehaving but perhaps other people would say that it is the person who is misbehaving. If an animal behaves instinctively, it is impossible to criticise an animal for behaviour which does not necessarily please their human caregiver. The problem lies with the person.

The horse is said to be ‘noble and necessary’ to use words quoted by Dr. Desmond Morris in his book Horse Watching. The phrase “noble and necessary” comes from the naturalist Edward Topsel who lived about 400 years ago. It is a heady combination to be both noble and necessary as a useful working animal. In other words, “the secret equine appeal is that it slaves for us while still looking noble. It is our humble servant even though it has the demeanour of an animal aristocrat”.

The words are written by Dr. Desmond Morris and it explains why horses are so popular.

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