Horses have been subject to human admiration since as early as around 30,000 BCE where wild horses appeared in Paleolithic cave art. It is not until much later that humans domesticated horses in Eurasia, perhaps around 4,000-3,500 BCE. Since then horses have played a major role in assisting humans all the way through modern times until they became superseded by machinery in most of the world. In some cultures they are still used as an indispensable partner when working cattle, during hunting, in the fields or as transport. Today horses are most commonly used as sport or companion horses where their sense of being are continuing to enrich humans’ lives.
Recent studies on horse and human interactions within riding, breeding and raising horses have shown how important one’s state of mind is when interacting with horses. Emotional states can be transmitted from humans to the horse through voice, posture, expression and pheromones. It was found that horses respond by increased heart rate when people in negative emotional states stroke them. People with neutral or positive emotional states did not have that influence on the horses’ heart rate. A lot of research and “hands on work” is continued to acquire more knowledge on how to communicate with horses in ways where relations become more balanced and enjoyable. The consensus between results is that the most optimal way to achieve a positive connection between horse and human is by using several lines of communication: through body language, voice, intention and energy – generally called “horsemanship”. The teachings within this field are diverse and many schools are available. Some of the pioneers were Pat Parelli and Linda Tellington Jones who has inspired riders across the globe since the 1970’s.
The wild spirit of horses can be found in all types of races from the free roaming Mustangs in North America, the Sorraia of Portugal, the Brumby of Australia and the last survivors of ancient horse sub-species, the Przewalski’s horse in Mongolia. Horses have served as loyal companions and servants to humans and have been shaped by us. However, horses have also shaped the lives of humans inspiring us with their sense of spirit, freedom and company.
References and more information on horse-human interactions both historically and from modern day studies on horse training and management can be found here:
A review of the human-horse relationship.
Hausberger, M., Roche, H., Henry, S., Visser, E.K. (2008). A review of the human-horse relationship. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Vol 109. pp 1-24.
Below we present you with options of where you can get your own experiences with horses in the wilderness of nature.
Here you can experience authentic ranch culture with a high standard within horse and cattle management.
If you want to explore more globally on horse riding adventures in a range of different natural and cultural settings, check out these options:
Iceland’s highlands and countryside calls for being explored in the exquisite company of men and horses. Iceland is famous for their high standard of sustainable tourism operations with a high quality and variety of travel forms depending on ones time, skills and temper to explore the nature of Iceland.
Read more on sustainable horse riding journeys in Iceland below.