• Erin Long

The Problem With "Every Horse Is Different"

So often I hear this phrase, typically when defending poor horsemanship. “Well every horse is different and MY horse needs this giant bit.” “Well every horse is different and MY horse needs big spurs to go forward.” Often this is followed by “Trust me, he/she would tell me if they didn’t like it.”

The issue with this argument is that most horses aren’t different. They respond to their environment. They need large amounts of forage, and they poop a lot. Saying your horse has thicker skin than 99% of other horses because “every horse is different” is a bit like saying some horses don’t have stomachs. Obviously all horses have stomachs except in extremely weird and rare medical cases. You wouldn’t ever argue that a horse doesn’t have a stomach because that’s an anatomical fact across all horses. Yet people argue all manner of anatomical differences for things that conflict with what they were taught - horses can’t feel mane pulling (false), horses don’t get hurt when we hit them because they’re big (false). The same is true for behavioral responses. All horses have set systems for R+, R-, P+, and P-. Some horses may release minute amounts of chemical in higher or lower amounts. Some horses may have a higher food drive than scratch drive. But ALL horses respond to R+. “Every horse is different” doesn’t explain away innate chemical systems as old as mammals themselves. 

The point is that your horse ISN'T that different. He’s pretty much the same as every other horse at his barn. He might be a bit bigger, or a bit smaller, or a bit spottier, but he’s effectively the same. Please stop trying to defend your poor horsemanship by relying on calling your horse a special snowflake.

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