Horses Learn Best From Other Horses They Admire
One of the incredible things about horses is their ability to learn. Dressage is, of course, a great testament to a horse’s ability to understand, remember and perform with a trainer.
But what most people (especially non-horse people) often don’t realise is just how intelligent horses are. Not only can they learn by interacting with a trainer, but they can also learn by watching another horse interact with a trainer.
That means that horses can teach themselves how to do something just by watching another horse do it. Pretty incredible, right?
A lot of you reading this might already know about this, and it’s certainly common knowledge amongst some horse people that allowing a horse to observe training is a great way of easing them into the arena themselves.
But here is where it gets more interesting:
A horse will only learn through observation if they are observing a horse that they respect. If the horse that is in the arena (the demonstrator) is of a higher social status than the horse that is watching (the observer), then the behaviour will be learnt. But if the demonstrator is of lower social status, or it is from a different social group, the observer will not learn the behaviour it watches.
The social lives and minds of horses are much more complex than people often give them credit for.
- Horses can learn from watching other horses, but only under some situations.
WILL LEARN: The horse they are watching has a high social status than them.
WON’T LEARN: The horse they are watching has a lower social status.
The horse they are watching is from a different social group.
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The 10 Best Horse Films Ever Made
1.The Black Stallion.
This classic, epic film follow a shipwrecked man and a wild stallion that he befriends and eventually races when the two are rescued.
Based on a child’s novel of the same name, most of the scenes were filmed using a champion Arabian named Cass Ole.
A story about a cowboy distance rider racing his mustang against purebred Arabian horses.
Although there has been some controversy about how factual the finer points of the plot are, the film is nevertheless a classic Hollywood action film about a man who has a real bond with his horse.
3. War Horse.
Directed by Steven Spielberg and adapted from a novel, War Horse follows the story of a young man who finds, tames and befriends a horse until they are unwillingly parted. The story then follows the horse as it travels through the war, meeting and leaving an impression on everyone it meets.
The film is long, though, at 2 and a half hours, so that’s something to keep in mind before your commit yourself. The story was also told through a stage play that was well received.
This film centres on the actual racehorse named Seasbiscuit, an undersized thoroughbred that was never expected to have any success in racing.
The story captured the heart of the world during the Great Depression, when stories of underdog success were something the people needed. Decades later, the story remains inspiring, and has become one of the most famous equestrian films ever created.
5. The Horse Whisperer
Directed by and starring the ultimate Hollywood star Robert Redford, this is another timeless classic.
Redford plays the part of a horse trainer with an uncanny ability to understand horses. He is called in to help a teenager (played by Scarlett Johansson) and her horse get back to riding fitness after they suffer a tragic accident.
An animated film starring Matt Damon as a wild mustang, the story is all about a horse that cannot be contained. Although defying the human’s attempts to break him, Spirit is still willing to develop a close friendship with the humans he cares about most.
7. The Silver Brumby.
Filmed in Victoria, Australia and starring Russel Crowe, the film tells the story of Australia’s wild brumbies. When released overseas, the film was renamed The Silver Stallion, as it was believed international audiences wouldn’t recognise the term ‘brumby.’
8. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.
A film unlike any other on the list, the story follows a woman who rider diving horses; horse that run up large platforms and jump off them into water. Diving horses were a popular attraction in the 1930s.
The film is based on a memoir by the rider depicted in the film. She lost her eyesight after a riding injury, but continued to ride while blind.
A Disney film about the life and experiences of the thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat. The film’s cast is largely made up of unknown actors and actresses, but the film was very successful on its release.
Based on the classic children’s novel My Friend Flicka, the story had been transformed into a film in 1943, and also into a 39 episode television series in the fifties.
The story has always resonated with young readers and viewers and is one of the original, classic equestrian stories.
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