7 Principles to Understanding Horse Behavior


There are natural laws that exist in science and socially- and horses are no exception! These natural laws are naturally learned from the horses's mother and other herd members. It is my hope that breaking these laws down can help humans to understand horses better. I believe these laws need to be followed for the horse alone (in their daily life), as well as the horse and human relationship. Next time you ask "why did they do that?" - I hope you can look to these principles and laws to better understand where your horse is coming from. These principles apply to the herd and the human/horse relationship.

The 7 Principles and Their Laws

1. Herd Animal

-Belonging to a Group

Horses need to to belong to a group and full fill herd obligations. It's important to know your role in the herd from the beginning.

-Safety in Numbers

Herd animals feel the safest when they are with the herd. Breaking away means taking a risk.

2. Pecking Order

-Setting an Example

There needs to be a strong, condfident, and calm leader.


In every situation there will be a leader and a follower.

3. Body Language


Horses have boundaries for everything; other horses, people, and objects. To cross a boundary one should be invited or know to do so.


To a horse every movement has a meaning.

4. Prey Animal

-Flight or Fight

Horses will choose to flee a situation, in not allowed expect a fight.


It is important to encourage discovery, while still allowing flight.

5. Correction not Punishment


The correction should match the level of infraction.


A correction needs to be made as quickly and swiftly as possible. React within 1.5 seconds and correct for no more than 10 seconds.

6. Group Bonding


Grooming for horses and humans is very important.


Play time allows for social interactions, exploration, and stress relief.

7. The Brain


Neuro pathways are how thoughts travel through the brain. Negative impacts create larger paths. The bigger the path, the more easily those thought happen.


Endorphins are released and help with making and maintaining positive pathways.


Adrenaline is released in response to flight or fight actions, which will slow the ability to think and learn.

Watch for video clips over each of the 7 principles to be posted!

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