In a perfect world, horses would be free to pursue their own lives and humans wouldn’t make demands of them. They’re herd animals who in nature, associate with other members of their large groups, graze in meadows, travel great distances, play, and engage in courtship behavior. They have needs, wants, and interests that are entirely independent from what humans ask and expect from them.
If we look honestly at our relationship with horses, we must acknowledge that the decision to take part in horseback riding is made solely by one individual with little benefit to and no input from the other.
Ren Hurst, author of Riding on the Power of Others: A Horsewoman’s Path to Unconditional Love, calls for an end to horseback riding, saying, “[W]e have this fundamental responsibility to not take advantage” of animals who have no control over whether or not they live with humans. It’s a new concept that’s evolving as our mindsets do, but the fundamental premise is a simple one: We can and must challenge our old patterns of thinking if we want to treat animals ethically—not as subservient to us but as our equals.
Horses deserve to live their lives as nature intended. We can connect with horses in our care and have a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with these sensitive animals without climbing on top of them.