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Teaching Both Sides: Horses and their Owners

It's a trap into which we humans sometimes fall: Assuming horses learn the same way we do.

If you learn to do something with your left hand, you understand how to do it with your right hand as well. You may not be as coordinated or have as much strength, but your brain has all the programming needed for the crossover. Horses are different. A horse's left and right sides may be inches apart on his body, but worlds apart in his brain. Trainer Vaughn Knudsen:

"In people, we can reason through it, so what our left hand knows it can teach the right hand. A horse does not have that ability, because the nerve endings do not cross over and they just can't process and teach both sides."

This is why much of horse gentling and training is devoted to what seems like redundant activity: Working both sides evenly. But in one sense horses and humans are similar. Each of us tends to be better at one side than the other.


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