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10 Equine Behaviors Explained by Dr. Robert M. Miller

Spalding Labs

http://9thus.spaldinglabs.com Dr. Robert M. Miller explains why horses act and react the way the do.
This video discusses the ten traits every horse inherits. Understanding these inbred characteristics will unlock the secrets of horse behavior.
1. The Secret of Flight: The horse in its wild state depends upon flight as its primary survival behavior. The horse's natural habitat is grasslands, prairie or steppes. Its primary enemies in nature are the large predators, particularly those of the cat and dog family, such as lions and wolves.
2. The Secret of Perception: Prey species must be more perceptive than predators if they are to survive. Horses are a prey species that live with the danger of being eaten by their predator enemies. They are programmed to be on the lookout for danger and are always prepared to flee from it in an instant. Inexperienced horsemen often fail to appreciate the extreme perceptivity of the horse. Horses have an uncanny ability to detect sensory stimuli which are far too vague for us to sense.
3. The Secret of Response Time: The horse has the fastest response time of any common domestic animal. "Response time" or "reaction time" is defined as the ability to perceive stimuli and react to it. Prey species must have a faster response time than a predator or they get eaten.
4. The Secret of Rapid Desensitization: The horse is more quickly desensitized to frightening stimuli than any other animal. Why is a flight oriented creature so quickly desensitized to frightening but harmless stimuli? If this weren't so, horses would spend all their time running and there would be no time to eat, drink, rest, or reproduce.
5. The Secret of Learning: Not only do horses desensitize faster than other domestic animals to frightening stimuli, but other kinds of learning are obtained with similar speed. If a novel experience, such as the first shoeing, the first trailer loading, the first saddling, the first worming, the first experience of any kind is traumatic, the horse will henceforth fear that procedure. Conversely, if a novel experience is made pleasurable and if comfort rather than discomfort ensues, the horse will remember that and will be more accepting of such an experience in the future.
6. The Secret of Memory: The horse's memory is nearly infallible. Horses never forget anything! Fortunately, horses forgive and were it not for that fact, a majority of professional horse trainers could not make a living. Horses can and do survive inept, improper and inhumane training methods.
7. The Secret of Dominance Hierarchy: The horse is the most easily dominated of all common domestic animals. It is a herd animal, subject to a dominance hierarchy and because it is a flight animal, the horse needs leadership to know when and where to run. In the wild, horses need leadership and readily accept it.
8. The Secret of Control of Movement: The horse is the only common domestic animal that exerts dominance and determines the hierarchy by controlling the movement of its peers. It is understandable that in a species in which the ability to run away means life or death, positional control is the way in which leadership is established. Dominant horses make threatening movements towards subordinate herd members.
9. The Secret of Body Language: Each species signals subordination or submissiveness with a body language instinctively understood by their own species. Horses give subtle signals when they are willing to submit to any domination.
10. The Secret of Precocity: The horse is a precocial species, which means it is neurologically mature at birth. Commonly, the newborn of prey species is precocial. For example newly hatched chicks, ducklings, goslings, quail, grouse, newborn fawns, calves, lambs and foals are fully active soon after birth. Unlike kittens, bear cubs, puppies or newly hatched owls or hawks, all of which are predatory species and quite helpless at birth, the precocial species must be quickly able to recognize danger and flee from it.
The imprinting period of the precocial species is immediately postpartum, when they visualize and memorize what they see move and want to follow and respect it (which in nature is usually the mother). This helps them to stay with their dam and the herd and they are quickly imprinted to do so. The best time to teach horses, therefore, is right after birth. Attitudes, temperament and reactions can be shaped in just a few hours if we know how.
Dr. Miller's book "The Ancient Secrets of the Horse's Mind" provides much greater details on each trait and explains how you can use each to your advantage when dealing with horses. It is available from Robertmmiller.com for $20 or a special and complete edition is available at no charge with any purchase from Spalding Labs. http://3mgje.spaldinglabs.com or call 8002486826

posted by kleridesjz