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Mind for the Job: Understanding Equine Personality

Whether we are asking our horses to compete in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows, canter down the centre line at Devon, gallop cross-country at Rolex Kentucky, or just head down the trail for a quiet Sunday stroll, it almost always runs counter to their evolutionary design to flee first and ask questions later – or preferably not at all. Horse industry professionals and amateurs admire equine courage, equine personality, and speak disparagingly of horses who are “gutless.” But horses were not designed to be brave. They were designed to eat grass on open grasslands with their herd, and to react with a hair-trigger flight response at any real or perceived threat. These attunements served them well on the range, but are counter-productive for the typical demands faced by today’s sport horses. To date, we have only a rudimentary understanding of equine personality in general, or equine courage in particular, and…

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