Are Horses Meant To Be Ridden?

Horses have had a relationship with humans for several centuries, and the question of are horses meant to be ridden brings up some strong opinions. Some people might fear digging deep into this philosophical question, afraid of the conclusions they may come to. Let’s dive into the history of humans and horses, and look at what horses like.

History Of The Horse’s Relationship With Humans

The human connection with horses started thousands of years ago in 3,500 BC. Research shows the first horse domestication occurred near Kazakhstan and southern Russia. The use of horses for pulling carts, chariots, and other work are one of the most influential events in society.

As the years passed, horses integrated even more with human life. Working on farms, in war, and in cities, horses allowed society to progress. Even though horses rarely do these jobs anymore, they still play a huge part in the lives of people who enjoy horse riding.

The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion

Horses And Intelligence

Studies into how horses think and perceive life are one reason the question of are horses meant to be ridden is more prominent. One study found that horses are incredible at reading subtle clues, much better than humans can read signals from a horse. Another study discovered horses are self-aware.

The study found that horses can recognize themselves in the mirror. If this is the case, is it right to ride horses? Are we forcing them to do our bidding, or are they happy to form a riding partnership? 

How To Tell If A Horse Is Happy

Horses let us know, some more subtly than others, if they are happy or not. A happy horse will show a relaxed stance, put its ears forward or flopped to the size, or lower its head. An unhappy horse will pin its ears, stiffly swish its tail, and kick.

Those are just some of the signs horses give to express how they feel. This brings us to riding a horse. Riders genuinely believe some horses enjoy ridden work. Some horses get upset, cranky, and exhibit behavioral problems when they don’t get worked.

Are Horses Meant To Be Ridden

A horse that enjoys ridden work, leads us to believe that, yes, horses are meant to be ridden. It, of course, depends on how you define ‘meant’. Meant implies that one of the sole purposes of a horse existing is for riding. 

If you change the question to: Is it ok to ride a horse? Then it is easier to say yes. However, riding and working with horses requires compassion and awareness. We must remember to learn and understand what the horse is telling us.

A horse that shows displeasure when ridden might not enjoy the activity, or it could have pain that needs the attention of a vet. Ask yourself why your horse is reacting this way, as while it’s true, many horses enjoy work, some don’t.

In some ways, the horse, human relationship is similar to the one humans have with dogs. Dogs want to please us, and anyone that spends time with a horse sees this as well. Domesticated horses depend on humans for basic care. Horses interacting with us is mutually beneficial.

At the end of the day, if a horse really didn’t want to do something, it can tell us pretty easily! Their power and size alone can overcome any action we try to do to make them do something.

Is It ok to ride a Horse - Are Horses Meant To Be Ridden

Does Riding A Horse Hurt It

We can develop a good, ridden relationship if we take the horse’s needs into consideration. Poor training methods, ill-fitting tack, and poor riding can cause horse pain. If done correctly and sensitively, there is no reason for the horse to suffer.

To find a balance between your questions of enjoying horse riding and wondering if the horse truly likes it, always give your horse a choice. Allow the horse to express its feelings and find a compromise that works for both of you.


Taking a black and white view, horses are not meant to be ridden. They were not placed on earth to do this job. Wild horses happily lived their lives roaming the land with their herds.

However, after thousands of years, it is difficult to answer this in a black and white way. During this time, humans and horses developed a relationship to coexist. It benefits both species in a positive way.

It is wrong to say that a horse is wasted as a field ornament when someone keeps it simply as a companion and doesn’t ride it. If the horse is happy and looked after, that is all that matters. But it is also wrong to tell someone they can’t ride horses because they aren’t meant to be ridden.

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