The horse is a creature of incredible beauty, strength, and power. For generations, horses have captivated the minds of people, not only being an integral part of our lives, but present in our earliest art and literature.
The ability to ride horses changed civilizations and our entire human story.
Each time we climb on the back of a horse, we can remember what a gift it is to be there. But why is it possible to ride? Why do we ride horses, not cows, deer, or even more logically, zebras?
Zebras were living in regions around humans just as horses were in the times horses were first domesticated, yet zebras remain a wild species, with repeated failed domestication attempts.
In today’s video, I want to explore why we ride horses – both the physical adaptations horses have that make riding them even possible, as well as discussing domestication and the question of why horses, as a species that thrives in the wild, have become so connected with humans.
p.s. This fall, I will be offering an all new Balanced Riding Course. This course is not just about learning how to ride or train a horse, it is equally about learning how to see past the words that are used, to recognize what is really going on between a horse and person, and to choose what is best for you.
Stay tuned for more about the course + Free Training coming soon!
Great piece. I have always wondered at the willingness of horses to let us do all sorts of stuff to them.
Leslie – Yes, there is something so special about our human connection with horses. The bond seems to run ages deep.
I believe not only have horses genetically adapted to humans as you suggest, but that people have genetically adapted to horses. Those who were drawn to work with and use horses had an advantage over those who did not. It is an adaption that would proliferate. When I feel the primeval draw in me to horses I feel it is my ancient genetic heritage calling me. I have acquired this wonderful feeling I get from being around horses not by accident but because in a odd sort of way horses domesticated me. We are in this together.
Robert Heckendorn – I think you’re absolutely right! It seems we evolved together, relied on each other in a lot of ways, and that draw to each other remains even though our dependency on and use of horses has changed. I definitely feel there is something in our veins that calls us to horses, and them to us.
I was always puzzled by the stripes of zebras ; they don´t defend a territory, they are not poisonous… why such a striking look?
Then I understood in a trip to Africa : they stick together,move constantly and their stripes create a COLLECTIVE not individual camouflage.
Ever thought of it ?
There have been some studies that indicate their stripes confuse flies so they don’t get bitten as often. In a study they put fly sheets colored with zebra stripes on horses and found that they were bitten less than horses with regular fly sheets.
What a neat study, Diane! The collective camouflage and protection from flies are two of the most well supported hypotheses about zebra stripes. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome you got to see zebras in Africa! Isn’t it a neat method of defense? Their coats, especially when together in a herd, create an optical illusion where it can be hard to tell where one zebra ends and the next begins. Tall grass in their native habitats can also add to the illusion, making it even harder for predators to pick any single zebra out.
Really interesting – Id never actually thought why horses and not zebra! Good theories.
It is really cool to think about! Thank you for exploring the idea with us.
Thank you so much for your great info as always. I love the peace I feel when riding a pleasant and cooperative horse.
Lori Penpek – When riding feels effortless and you feel connected with your horse, that is the ultimate feeling!
Love seeing snippets of my home continent of Africa. I love the bonding and connection that is constantly improving between my horse and myself.
Carol – So glad this blog brought you a touch of home! Our journeys with our horses is endless, with always more to learn from and with them, but it is also endlessly rewarding. Happy to hear you are experiencing that with your horse.
I don’t often post a comment because I am a rather private consumer. But I do want to say I look forward to every horse class and I am AMAZED by how much I learn from you Cally! (And Wendy! And Patrick!!) I have learned about techniques and the logic behind them. I have had thoughts (like the adaptation of horses to become domestic animals being a HUGE benefit to the species) that I never considered before. I just want to say thank you for all the time and the education you put into your program. I feel a need to share more in the comments how wonderful this whole program is. I hope your readers won’t mind if I post more often what an incredible resource Horse Class is. I think the brightest and best horse riders are the ones who constantly are trying to learn and grow. Horse Class is one of the best way to expand riders knowledge and skills. And the weekly videos are spot on perfect tidbits! Don’t stop doing this Cally!! Horses and riders everywhere need an online support and educational system like yours. This is truly a gift to me each week.
In one of the clips I saw Carly being ridden but she is no longer in your roster. Has she been sold? She improved so much under your training. I had the privilege of riding her a couple of times in clinics and became very fond of her.
Hi Diane, Thank you for your question about Carly. Sadly, we had to put her down last year after battling numerous health problems and unsoundness 🙁 It was the difficult decision of not being able to keep her comfortable.
What I find so special is that horses do not really need humans at all and notwithstanding they allow us and despite this they allow us to get close and domesticate them!!!
Callie I cannot wait fall for your new course!!
Daniela – It is such a gift for them to allow us to connect and bond with them. We are super excited to share the upcoming course with you all soon!
I find it amazing the intelligence of how my horse reads my body when riding,the slightest movement in the seat, shoulders, leg or hand and they know what that means…of course I had to teach him what those things meant but once established it has become so refined just a suggestion of a change is all that is needed.
Mary – Horses are so sensitive to minute changes in their environment. In riding, it feels like they are so attuned they can almost read our minds. Sounds like you have really connected and developed a strong language between you and your horse. That’s what we hope everyone can experience, that shared language and understanding between us and our horses where riding becomes effortless. So, thank you for sharing!
The pleasure I take from riding and really just being with a horse is that when you ride well and it all comes together there is nothing like the feeling that you are just floating on a fast moving cloud.
One thing I love about riding is the connection to the horse. It is a meditative space for me, and I love that I need to fully focus on what I am doing and be one with the horse.
Elizabeth, horses create this almost sacred space with us when we are working together, really focused and connected. It can create a place of zen, shared only between you and your horse. Lovely you have experienced that.
Absolutely. The moment where you and your horse are in sync, feeling connected almost as one, is one of the best joys in the world. So excited to hear you have felt magic moments like that in your riding.
Riding is a gift to be part of nature. The horse becomes an extension of me and I of them. I see much more of the world around me from the back of a horse. Watching the ears, head and neck brings much more to my attention.
Mary Lou Waugh – Horses are keenly attuned to nature and so aware of the world around them. It is awesome that you have been able to tap into that with your horses and experience the world a bit through their senses.
I was fortunate to purchase 2 young horses who had not been handled until a month prior to me having them transported to where I live. When they arrived they were exhausted and we could handle them in their head collars. I thought more had gone into their gentling prior to being transported. Little did I know that I basically had 2 wild youngsters. Everyday we did a little more and more with them, just feeding them by hand, to touching their face to eventually managing to brush them all over, to picking up feet, to eventually training them to saddle and getting on them. They are amazing creatures, who, if treated well, adapt to anything you ask of them. Their size compared to us, makes you appreciate that they could kill you in an instant, but they don’t. I have the utmost respect and love for our beautiful horses, and truly appreciate that these 2 boys allowed me into their life and onto their backs.
Davina – Thank you for sharing your story of building up a relationship and creating a bond with horses that were essentially wild in the beginning. What an amazing experience to be a part of that from start to finish. The fact that horses allow us to share in their space and try their best to do what we ask of them, when they could easily overpower us as you say, is truly a gift.
Thanks for this interesting video. I find working in partnership with a horse so personally rewarding. Especially on long trail rides, exploring, overcoming little (& sometimes Big) obstacles, trusting each other. I appreciate that horses are completely honest, always.
Cheryl – There is nothing like special moments shared when it is just you and your horse. Horses definitely tell it like it is.
Riding a horse is more than a hobby or having a pet. To me for the first time I have realized that having a horse is part of my life of who I am. In Oct 2020 I purchase a young horse and I have found that my learning curve has gone through the roof. I am learning as much from him as he is from me. He has become my partner and my friend. The ability to connect with him and he with me is starting to develop. I can’t imagine my life without him.
Colleen – They are truly wonderful and natural teachers for us! The lessons learned and time spent with them are so invaluable for shaping ourselves.
Very interesting – as are all your lessons. I enjoy them immensely. I have learned so much from your classes.
I so love your lessons,Callie. What I find so specual about riding is EXACTLY what you describe in the video…the connection and the fact that this beautiful creature allows me to get on her back and instruct her to do things with my voice, legs and hands when I am such a nummty!🤣 I live her gentleness and tolerance of me.
Oops special! And I LOVE her gentleness. Sorry for typos!
Horses are such amazing creatures that gift us with so much. Thanks for the watch!