Equine Psychology & Behaviour

How to Train Your Dragon | parallels with horses

How to Train Your dragon analogy to horse training at Equine-Empathy.com
Hiccup uses ‘approach & retreat’ and avoids direct eye contact

So it’s wet, muddy and cold outside but you can sit inside and enjoy watching How to Train Your Dragon in the warmth and see the lighthearted parallels with good horse communication and leadership!

  1. Our protagonist, ‘Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III’ realises that despite his size and fearsomeness, the dragon (‘Toothless’) is as scared as he is. Despite being responsible for the dragon’s tail injury, Hiccup becomes Toothless’ human teammate, trainer and best friend.         With us so far…?Toothless copy
  2. The traits of the Night Fury dragon are listed as ‘playful, inquisitive, expressive and intelligent’ and his personality as ‘loyal and empathetic with boundless energy‘.
    Method of attack:  ‘Strike’. 
  3. The large-eyed Toothless becomes Hiccup’s best friend rather than a pet.
  4. Hiccup approaches the wounded Toothless using the non-confrontational approach and retreat method.
  5. Hiccup makes his first point of contact with his hand (almost a horseman’s handshake!) but does not make direct eye contact to avoid confrontation or present himself as predatory or threatening.
  6. Hiccup’s approach to dragons is softness – he finds their ‘sweet spots’ and avoids violence.
  7. Hiccup avoids using a bit, preferring to use a saddle and harness.
  8. The relationship with Toothless enables Hiccup to achieve his full potential and bond with his peers.

There are also several excellent points to be taken from these remarkably inciteful ‘Emergency Guides: How to Deal with  Toothless’ from DeviantArt.  Enjoy!

How to Deal with Toothless Part I

He’s a dragon, not an idiot.  Believe me, it does not amuse him when people talk in slow motion to him.  He gets it.  Actually he’s smarter than your average ‘person’.  He’s not a Night Fury for nothing you know…how_to_train_your_dragon_by_boo_11 unimpressed

Dragons have their pride and temper, especially Toothless.  You respect him, he’ll respect you.  Likewise, you pick on him… he’ll pick on you by a tenfold.

Don’t push him.  This rule is especially important.  NEVER, I emphasis, NEVER push Toothless to do something he doesn’t want to, or he will tell you by his own radical methods that you’re not amusing him.

How to Deal with Toothless Part II

He is never the first to attack…Unless you’ve done something else to him that deserves revenge.  I also highlight this rule.  If there has been an “accident” chances are you brought it on yourself.  Plus I am more likely to believe Toothless’ version.

Dragons are animals and animals don’t need to be babysat.  Like I said before, you don’t bother him, he won’t bother you.  The only thing he needs help with is to get feed.

Don’t be afraid of him.  He doesn’t spot cowards, he SMELLS them miles away.  If you keep your cool and feel confident (note confident, not arrogant) you have nothing to worry about.  He’s friendly to people most of the time.

An Emergency Guide II by Avatardn-n.deviantart.com
An Emergency Guide II by Avatardn-n.deviantart.com

How to Deal with Toothless III 

Do not attempt to ride him… I’m his human, he’s my dragon.  It’s a closed deal.  No third wheels unless they’re invited.

A final heads up, Toothless is a complicated creature but in general, he’s friendly to those he’s comfortable with.  If he trusts you, then you have to worry of nothing.  Just be sure of not spoiling that trust.  That should do.

Dragons_bod_night-fury_background_sketch vignette wikia nocookie net