Have you ever wondered if horses bond with us the way we think they do?
Have you wondered at one point or another if they even like humans? Can horses feel and reciprocate the love or closeness we feel with them? So many questions you might be asking yourself and for good reason. Oftentimes we bond with one horse and consider them part of our family and kindred spirit, it would be interesting to know if that feeling was reciprocated.
Recent finds may shed some light on this subject and answer our questions. Don't worry it isn't all in our heads and we aren't those crazy horse people, lol. Research has confirmed what we thought all along, we connect with our horses on a deeper level. So don't be surprised when you think your horse can read you...they can understand AND read human emotions!
Science is amazing, as we already found out from previous studies that horses can recognize faces and facial expressions..so leave that grumpy face at home! Even more interesting though, is that these animals can link your expressions to your face or emotions of others to their specific face showing how amazing these animals truly are.
This latest study was done by researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth and was published in the journal Current Biology. While it's certainly not the first study down on horse behavior, it is the first one to find something like this.
"We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability," Portsmouth research Leanne Proops said. "What's very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with this person."
How the heck did they come up with their findings you ask?
A series of experiments were made showing domestic horses photographs of humans with either happy or angry facial expressions and then later, the showed the horses the people in the photographs, making neutral expressions. After showing a series of these photographs to the horses they introduced them to the people in real life to see how they reacted.
By watching the horses eye movements when they saw the humans, researchers observed that the horses who saw those who had been photographed with angry faces to be more threatening.
Interesting to know that previous research revealed that horses look at negative or threatening things with their left eye).**Humans involved in the research were not aware of which photographs were shown to the horses, so their behavior was not influenced affecting the study.
Karen McComb, a professor at the University of Sussex, said in a news release,
"What we've found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions, but they can also remember a person's previous emotional state when they meet them later that day — and, crucially, that they adapt their behavior accordingly."
Incredibly interesting for so many reasons, this research proves exactly how intelligent and emotional horses really are and that we should be aware of our interactions with them.
When you feel a connection with a horse, it is indeed real and magnificent and should be treated with respect.
We are learning more and more about these magical animals everyday and with this latest research it is one huge step in becoming closer with our our kindred horses.