This refers to the scientific study of the behavior of animal and human beings. Observation of horses in their natural and semi-natural states or as part of experimental protocols produces knowledge about how they live, their sensory faculties, social organization, development and learning mechanisms, etc. Equine ethology thus enables us to find out more about the nature of horses.

Ethological riding / Natural riding / Behavioral riding

These riding standards, influenced by the American “natural horsemanship” movement, recommend using horse training techniques which take the horse’s nature into account. They rely upon scientific knowledge of horses: equine ethology or sources of empirical knowledge.

Horseman / Horsewoman

This is a great compliment paid to someone who loves horses.  It is used for men and women who understand horses exceptionally well, including their nature, behavior, health, characteristics, etc. These abilities are mainly acquired through experience, day-to-day work with horses, observation of their habits, caring for them and through the examination of their development. Horsemen and Horsewomen develop a particular ability to “read” horses: they can spot health problems, identify their condition and adapt their training to the horse’s specific characteristics. Becoming a horseman or horsewoman is an goal shared by many enthusiasts.

Natural Horsemanship

Originally an American movement which began with cowboys who worked on a daily basis with horses. By observing groups of wild horses and through their equestrian experience, particularly of breaking horses, some of them began to raise questions about the methods which were being used to train horses. They developed techniques to take into account their knowledge of horses’ nature and behavior. The same principles govern groundwork and saddle training. These basic principles enhance the learning process and are a better guarantee of safety for the cowboys. Ray Hunt, Tom DorranceMonty RobertsPat Parelli and Buck Brannaman are key figures in the natural horsemanship movement.


This term began with the film The Horse Whisperer. Produced and directed by Robert Redford, it was released in 1998.

Savoirs éthologiques

The official exams of the Fédération Française d’Equitation are known as the Savoirs Ethologiques (ethological knowledge). They are based on the horse’s behavior and a relationship of trust and respect.

They are aimed at riders wanting more in-depth knowledge of the horse as an animal. Find out more

La Cense Degrees

These are the levels within the La Cense Method. Each degree takes the form of an exam.  When candidates successfully pass the exam, they receive a colored stringFind out more


Pre-breaking refers to the initial handling of a young horse.  It consists of teaching a horse the basic principles of its relationship with humans. This stage often takes place around the age of two and involves developing a relationship, mostly on the ground, during sessions which aim to establish codes, desensitize the horse to certain external elements and familiarize the young horse with a saddle without the weight of the rider.


Breaking-in refers to the period of training which enables a horse to be ridden for the first time.


Accommodation for horses consisting of a plot of grass and a shelter to protect the horse from poor weather.


Accommodation for horses consisting of a closed space surrounded by walls, railings and/or open areas on a stabilized surface covered with bedding (straw, shavings, etc.).


An outdoor enclosure on a stabilized surface, surrounded by metallic tube fencing, with dimensions ranging from 20 to 30 square meters.


An outdoor area set aside for horses’ relaxation. The surface is either grass or sand and it can be of varying dimensions.

Indoor arena

Covered training area for training horses in the event of poor weather.

Outdoor arena

Outdoor training area, mainly consisting of sand.

Lunging ring

A lunging ring may be indoors or outdoors and consists of a reduced training area which is used for lunging, groundwork and putting them at liberty.


Ponying is a horse handling technique which consists of leading one horse while riding another. It is particularly used during the breaking phase. The ponied horse is taught to get used to the actions of the rider above. The rider’s movements are freer and more precise. The horse does not have to support the weight of the rider and benefits from the reassuring presence of a fellow creature.


A stallion is a male horse who has not been castrated.