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Horse Behavior: Learning Through Observation! Mustang Part 3

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

So do you know how a horse learns? They actually learn 6 different ways! But today I am going to be talking about how they learn through observation! Especially since my experience with this mustang has shown me how powerful this way of learning can be for a horse!


Us humans learn in the same exact way as horses do with the help of some powerful tools like planning, reasoning, cognition, but some of our emotions like arrogance and shame can come in and hinder our learning! Horses learn so fast since they do not have those emotions blocking them!

Now you may know that foals learn from watching their mothers and the rest of the herd where to eat, drink, sleep, etc. But this process does not just stop once a horse is an adult! They continue to watch their buddies and us too as we scurry around the barn! I mean come on they need to know which human is their feed buddy!

With my mare, Olivia, when she had her foal, we would brush her and over time her foal would get between her and the brush so she could be brushed too! Her baby saw that brushing was an enjoyable experience for her mom and wanted in!

Olivia and her baby

Well even though I saw a horse learn through observation right there in front of me, I kind of brushed it off to the side for training purposes. I did not believe it was the best way to help a horse through a problem until now!

For the past couple of weeks I have made tremendous process in getting the mustang to really trust me more through the use of observation! Near her paddock is a few other horses I know and I started to give them pats and treats before, in between and after my sessions with the mustang. I started to notice she would watch me do this and would lick and chew to process what she saw.

Peanut gallery near the mustang

I incorporated my greeting of the other horses into my process and sure enough the mustang became more interested in me touching her and giving her treats! She has even been really into sniffing me and getting close to me!

It has been amazing to see her transformation with learning through observation! And if you are having trouble with your horse, try having them observe you interacting with another horse that you are comfortable with. It might take a few sessions but before long they should be more interested in you and what your are asking!


P.S. If you need any help with your horse's learning process reach out!

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