Horse Behavior and Psychology
from W.H.E.E.P. (White Horse Equine Ethology Project)
Since it first appeared in its earliest form somewhere around 600,000 years ago the horse has evolved into the modern Equus Caballus with which we are familiar.
During that long journey of development the horse has acquired a range of behaviors that have supported its existence and maintained the survival of the Equine species. The environment in which the horse is kept has a massive impact on how behaviors are triggered, and an understanding of how this process works is essential in creating good methods of management.
Human and Horse have been in some kind of relationship for thousands of years; first as hunter and prey, then as master and slave, and many present day owners are quite content with that master/slave relationship.
But over the last 30 years an increasing number of horse-keepers have begun to look for another paradigm, in which partnership and harmony replace slavery and compulsion. The search has produced some interesting consequences in the areas of use, management and training, and has created major challenges to traditional methods and attitudes.
Sometimes these challenges have been met, and honest attempts made to update old practices, but very often those at the leading edge of the search, the pioneers of a new more ethical horsemanship, have been attacked and their work dismissed or deliberately misrepresented. While there are still old diehards that find the challenges just too hard to deal with the wave of change has now become so large and strong that it's just a matter of time before its spread filters into every part of the equestrian world.
Since the White Horse project began 16 years ago W.H.E.E.P. has been at the forefront of that wave, maintaining natural social groups of horses and attempting to fill in some of the many gaps in what's known about the social behavior, psychology and development of the horse. This award winning site is an archive of the results of that research, including original articles by founder Andy Beck, many of which have appeared in various magazines.