And, as far as I can see, humans are the definite exeption. Every other post Cretaceous Era predator that I can think of walks on 4. Lions, tigers, bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, hyenas, jackals...
We might be the exception, but would you disagree that humans are, as of this day and age, the ultimate predator? We can kill anything we want to given the right tools. Horses know we could kill them. That's in their DNA. One reason why I refuse to swin in the ocean is because when I enter the water I am no longer top of the food chain.....sharks are now top predator, and I don't like that! lol.
Yes, biologically humans are predators. But, have you ever seen one truly act in a predatory fashion around a horse (or at any time?)?
Yes I have. Your definition of 'predatory fashion' might be different than mine, but I have seen people yell at their horse then haul out and smack him for pawing in the cross ties. That is predatory. No doubt about it.
Modern humans are so far removed from the predator of thousands of years ago that, excepting extraordinary circumstances or grave danger/fear, most humans do not behave in a physical way analogus to the predators a domesticated horse is hard wired to instinctively fear.
It doesn't matter, IMO, how our ancestors acted.....that's how they had to act at the time. You are looking at the extreme. I'm looking at what is seen to be normal in the horse world today.
When you want a burger, does your predator mode kick in and you grab your spear?
No, but that is a really funny visual! lol!
Or do you hop in the car and take a trip to Burger King? I have seen horses react in identical fashion to a strange horse as to a strange human (with tension, hesitation, etc), but I totally agree with the sensitivity/skepticism to changes.
Even though we do not act like "cavemen" these days, the instinct to dominate, hunt, get what we want when we want it, and to do whatever it takes to get it is still in our DNA. I wonder if I could say that modern day humans are "domesticated?" lol. If one tool doesn't work for a job, you get a bigger tool. We will use force whenever is needed to get the job done. You see this same predatory instinct in the horse world (at least IMO). If a horse chomps on the bit, some people tie his mouth shut. If the horse carries his head high, some people tie it down. If the horse pulls while leading, some people put a chain over their nose in in their mouth. If a horse doesn't carry himself well, some people will strap his head down and MAKE him carry himself "correctly." Can you tell me these few examples are not predatory inclinations of the human? Humans are mechanically inclined, and unfortunately this instinct carries over to dealing with horses.
Yes, absolutely a domestic horse can have fear and is above all concerned about his survival, and it is the task of the handler to diffuse that fear when it rises.
Absolutely. I agree completely. The responsibility lies completely on the handler.
On the topic of disciplining a belligerent horse, who has NO physical pain issues, who is not afraid of what we are doing to or with him, have you ever seen such a horse exhibiting the tension or postures that you have described? I have not.
These horses, I agree, are not afraid of people. They have over-ridden that fear instinct, and this can be for multiple reasons. Once a horse feels safe around a human, he will try to dominate the human. That's the way of the herd. Some horses are very subtle about it, while others are very clear about their intentions! lol. However, this does not give the human an excuse to act forceful, aggressive and predatory.
Example: I turn my horse out in his paddock and return to the barn to get a bucket with his breakfast for him to eat outside. This is a daily routine, and he understands that he needs to stay out of my space and not crowd for the bucket. He is normally polite and gentle, but today decides to crowd me at the gate and grab for food. I look him in the eye and say "Scout, back," with no response. I give him a slap on the neck and firmly say "AHHCT." He steps away and permits me to cross the paddock to the feeder, calmly following about ten feet behind. He is not afraid, not tense. His normal behavior is calm acceptance of the routine, so he is not confused. And he comes right to me when I want to catch him again, no food, no bribes, rarely even a vocal call.
*sigh* Okay, this might not sound right, but it's the only way I can get across what I'm saying. Please know I am in no way criticizing you. Okay, in this situation, I agree the horse has no fear. So now we are looking at a dominance issue. IMO that does not warrent a smack. My question would be, WHY is the horse doing this in the first place? WHY, if the horse is TRULY respectful of the human, is he showing this negative behavior? A horse will not bite, kick or crowd the alpha horse. So if the horse does not see you as the leader, he might try the above things and more. If the horse does see you as a worthy leader, he will not try these things. If the horse tries this behavior every so often, the horse truly does not see the human as someone worth respecting. Further, if each time the horse crowds, he gets a smack for not getting out of the way, it's really not fixing the problem.....because the behavior keeps coming back and it's never resolved.
As a true horseperson should. If a horse hesitates, that is the time to better acquaint it with whatever made it hesitate, in a way that does not push him further into a fear reaction. When the horse is frightened is not the time to smack him. A frightened horse cannot learn, hs isn't using the "thinking side of his brain."
Absolutely! I wish more people knew and understood this.....but this understanding comes with knowing how to correctly and accurately read the horse.
When he knows the drill, understands what you want, and is not in physical pain, yet behaves in a belligerent manner, "force" is in order, whether a verbal repremand (a mare's squeal), or a more physical pinch or smack (a higher-rung horse's nip or kick
I wil disagree with this. Just because the horse says "No" doesn't give us the right to smack him. A brace in the body started as a brace in the mind. So my question would be, WHY is that mental brace there to begin with? It can be narrowed down to several things: the horse is not motivated, he's bored, he's sour to whatever the rider is asking him to do, the rider has been forceful which makes this horse fight back.....in each case it is the rider's fault, not the horse's, so he should not be punished for the rider's lack of understanding, attention, patience or knowledge.