Have you ever suspected that your horse understood what you were saying to it? You might not be wrong!
We all know that horses can learn to react to signals and cues, but they can also understand the emotional state of humans.
Horses can look at a person and recognise their facial expression and the corresponding emotion, a new study has found. Not only can they distinguish between different facial expression, they also understand the importance of emotions like anger or calmness.
The study tested horse’s heart rates and head movements in response to different facial expressions. They found that angry facial expression made horses turn their left eye towards the image and have a raised heart rate. Even more impressive, they could understand photographs of angry faces.
This study leads to the idea that horses are much more emotionally intelligent than previously thought. The study implies that horses are able to cross over the emotional barrier that comes with being a different species to humans.
Another study found that horses are capable of producing 17 facial expressions of their own; 3 more than chimpanzees and 10 less than humans. It’s more evidence for the idea that the emotional word of the horse is highly developed and strongly linked to the emotional experience of humans.
So if you’ve found yourself defending the idea that riders and their horses share special, real emotional connections, you’ve just found scientific evidence to support you.