Editor’s note: This article is part of TheHorse.com’s ongoing coverage of topics presented at the 2012 International Society of Equitation Science conference, held July 18-20 in Edinburgh, Scotland.


It can be a nerve-wracking experience for some riders, but when you hand your horse over to another rider, do not fear. At least, according to new study results, you don’t need to fear for him. The researchers found that horses that are used to just one rider don’t appear to be any more stressed or afraid of new things if they’re mounted by a different rider; they might, however, be less cooperative.

"Many owners state that they share a very special bond with their horse, and I would certainly be one of them," said Uta König von Borstel, PhD, equitation scientist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, who oversaw the field work of Nora Krienert, MSc. "Our research indicates that horses might have greater trust, but not less fear, when they’re with familiar riders." König von Borstel presented the research at the 8th International Society for Equitation Science conference, held July 18-20 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

König von Borstel and Kreinert employed three different types of horses in their research:

  • Privately owned horses usually ridden by a single rider;
  • Mounted police horses usually ridden by a single rider; and
  • Riding club horses ridden by several different (but regular) riders.

New obstacles or objects were placed in the riding arena. Each of the 47 horses was ridden past or over these obstacles