The horse-human relationship is an important part of equestrianism. Many riders think of this as a partnership and training is often orientated towards achieving a sense of harmony. Equines are considered to be very perceptive of their handlers and equestrians are commonly motivated in achieving a sense of affinity with the horse. So, how well attuned are horses and their handlers? What motivates equestrians, on a psychological level, to persevere in this relationship and what do they gain from it?
In comparison to feral horses, the range of behaviours exhibited by domestic horses has been substantially reduced. Domestic environments are less stimulating and present fewer opportunities for a horse to express its natural behaviour. However, providing environmental enrichment can encourage the horse to increase its expression of behaviours and also prevent abnormal behaviours.
Play is a fundamental aspect of equine behaviour. Desire to play starts in early foal-hood and continues even in adulthood. It is an important aspect of development, with around 75% of the foal's time devoted to play. It is exhibited in a range of equids, from Asses to Zebras, and carries benefits, both physiological and psychological. So, how do equines play and why do they do it?