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From a scientific standpoint, humans and horses are both social mammals who want to be loved and nurtured, but horses don't have as much deductive reasoning and cognitive thinking skills. Learn about ways in which humans try to project their own way of thinking onto horses with information from an applied behavioral ecologist in this free video on horse behavior.
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Hi! I'm Mary Ann Simonds! I'm an applied behavioral ecologist for horses and I live in Vancouver, Washington. I'm here today to talk to you about the differences and the similarities between horses and humans. How horses and humans are similar and how they're different. From a scientific standpoint, we're both social beings, we're social mammals. Horses are social mammals, humans are social mammals. That's probably the best place we connect is that the priorities for social mammals are very similar. For instance, we all want to be loved and taken care of. We all want to be nurtured, we're not independent. So, the social bonding and the nurturing behaviors in social mammals is very very key in foundation for their own survival. That's where we're similar. We want to have friends, we want to feel safe. So for a horse, much of their dialog and their safety is about safe space, my space, your space, knowing where their herd mates are, knowing where their friends are. For humans, think about it for yourself. How many people want to go through life alone? What the most important thing for you? Oftentimes having friends and family nearby. Well, the horse is very different and we show that with horses. Where we're different is how we think. Horses have emotions and so do humans but horses do not have as much deductive reasoning and cognitive thinking as humans have. This is where oftentimes as a behavioral ecologist I find many problems occur. The horses get into trouble with humans because humans try to project their own thinking to the horse. They feel that the horse should understand that it's just a tire mark on the road, on the side of the railing or this is not the same trailer, this is a different day. And all of the problems that might cause a horse to worry and be emotional about something, humans don't understand that. For instance, often mares when they're shipped get ulcers and I found it very interesting that the studies were surprised that mares would get ulcers over geldings. Well, that's a very normal thing for a horse because when a horse is separated from their herd and they don't know why they were separated because they don't have the deductive reasoning like humans have to think about that, they just know that they're separated from their friends and family and they worry. And so that is where horse problems often are not caused by the horse being different but by humans not being able to understand how the horse is thinking and feeling. So, in one way we're very similar. We need friends, we want safe space. The horse with the biggest space is the leader, just like the boss with the biggest office is the boss. It's whoever can take space is usually the one in charge. They have emotions, they want to be with their friends but we're separate and where as we become the human's responsibility is to be able to understand the horse is different in how they think and how they learn.
Specialty: Holistic Horse Health