What does that mean?

Paco & Missy Wryn

Paco & Missy Wryn

The word Anthropomorphizing is a popular term used in warnings to horse owners and trainers not to anthropomorphize horses.  It is a difficult enough word to say (anthro po mor fizing), let alone to understand what it means especially in the context of our horses.  Merriam-Webster states the definition is to attribute human form or personality to things not human,[1] and Wikipedia describes  human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being[2].  Both Webster & Wiki seem to be saying the same thing, so it seems we should not attribute human characteristics to our horses?  The question begs what separates us as human beings from animals besides the obvious physiology?

Most experts describe the differences between humans and animals are self-awareness, self-consciousness, the ability to contemplate consequences, reflection on one’s purpose, origin, etc.   We are unable to know whether animals, horses in particular, reflect on their purpose or origin, and most would agree horses live in the here and now, in the moment, relying on their sensory input which invokes instinct, but what about self-awareness and the ability to contemplate consequences?  Isn’t self-awareness and contemplation of consequences exactly what we are teaching our horses when we train them?  Are we not anthropomorphizing our horses by bridging their sensory input with their brains to think before they respond or react?  And what about training to contemplate consequences, are we not doing that too?

Anthropomorphizing isn’t a bad thing, it is actually what we do when we are training and working with our horses.  Where the trouble lies with anthropomorphizing our horses is when we forget that the horse has a huge sensory input center, its entire body, which responds to the slightest touch, sight, or sound, that can be dangerous to us, our veterinarians, our farriers and others.  As horse owners it is our job to demonstrate to our horses herd leadership which develops trust in us while we teach appropriate safer responses for integration into the domestic world.  We must always keep in mind when around and working with our horses that they are genetically wired to require a herd leader at all times, even in a herd of two, you and your horse.  It is our job to be the competent, compassionate, trustworthy herd leader that establishes healthy boundaries, and healthy behavior.

To learn more about being the herd leader your horse is genetically requiring you to be, watch FREE my entire Training the Whole Horse video series on my YouTube channel at  Take a Virtual Extreme Trail Ride too while you are visiting.  Click, learn, ride and have fun!




About Gentle Horse Trainer Missy Wryn

Specializing in problem and dangerous horses Missy Wryn is an internationally recognized Gentle Horse Trainer and member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators. Missy's Training the Whole Horse® methods & techniques and the creation of her widely popular All-In-One Bitless Bridle have been featured in media such as Alaska Airlines Magazine, Equine Monthly, Natural Horse, NW Horse Source, Stable Management, The Horse Show with Rick Lamb, Horse Girl TV and more. For more information visit Missy Wryn’s website at or call toll free (888) 406-7689.
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One Response to ANTHROPOMORPHIZING YOUR HORSE What does that mean?

  1. Pingback: ANTHROPOMORPHIZING YOUR HORSE What does that mean? | horsemareship

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