February 16, 2016
Does My Horse Love Me?
Response To NYMag’s “Horses Can Read (Some) Human Emotions
Through the years, many clients and friends have asked me, “Does my horse like me, and does he recognize me and have real feelings about me?” I work with horses because they are living, thinking creatures that have emotions and intelligence. When we train one, and they respond the way we hoped, there is a real joy derived from that communication. As a horse trainer, what fun would it be to train/program a robot. For me, none. Having worked with horses my entire life, it comes as no surprise that horses can recognize, visually, human emotions. More than this, they absolutely can sense our moods and emotions.
I have seen horses genuinely like or dislike their owners. I’ve had them get very excited upon seeing “their person” arrive even though that particular person never feeds them treats – hence the response is more than a Pavlovian trigger. I have also had horses pin their ears or hide at the back of their stalls when their owner came to ride. Here too, I think the behavior was more than just recognizing body signals; in other words, more than just disapproving of fast or unfamiliar movements on the part of the person.
With that being said, my proximity to horses for the better part of my life says without a doubt, horse do form real opinions about us. Does that mean they form a special bond with their person? That, I can’t be too sure about. I suppose it’s possible, and I’d like to think so. Remember, we are dealing with a herd animal so be careful not to personify his behaviors. Still, how many times have we felt that a particular horse really tried for us – really gave us their heart?
This article is a quick read from an extremely respected source. If you love horses, it’s worth a look. I might question the methodology of the study, but I agree with the conclusion. After all, I think it’s just saying what every child who rides a horse figured out right away – horses will always have a special way to communicate, and we will always have a unique exchange of emotions with them.
To read the article from NYMag, click HERE!