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You Can't Change Evolutionary Behaviours

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

The evolution of the horse is a process that has taken nearly 60 million years, from a small dog-sized creature, Eohippus, that lived in forests (1). As the species evolved, features that are in the modern-day horse began to develop. We need to remember that evolution in horses is a long-term process that has taken millions of years to occur (2).

The first humans appeared 12,000 years ago (1) meaning that evolutionary characteristics and behaviours were already embedded in the modern-day domesticated horse. Domestication cannot therefore create huge changes in horse behaviour, although it has been able to adjust physical characteristics of horses to produce the wide range of breeds we see today.

This is worth remembering when we are training our horses. They are never going to think like us. Humans are predators – we think directly, we plan ahead and we don’t have many natural predators in the world. Horses are prey animals – they think laterally, to check every angle is safe. They live in the moment and respond to what is right in front of them. They have many natural predators and their evolution has taught them to be alert to threats. This is worth remembering when we are training our horses.



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