9 Scientific Ways To Know If Your Horse Loves You

9 Scientific Ways To Know If Your Horse Loves You

It can be hard to tell whether your horse loves you, but there are certain signs that indicate you’re in the good graces of your equine friend. Horses aren’t the most expressive creatures on earth, so it can be hard to tell what they’re thinking. But with these nine scientific ways to know if your horse loves you, you’ll have no doubts in your mind that your four-legged pal has got your back!

1) Horses are loyal

Horses are known for their ability to remember faces, even after not seeing a person for many years. They can also recall where they’ve been and when. Horses have strong long-term memories—and they often know their owners better than their owners know themselves! A horse can bond with a person after only an hour or two of contact, though it takes longer if he or she hasn’t had much human interaction in his or her life.

2) Horses are empathetic

They can tell if you’re scared or nervous, and often take that energy and run with it. Humans are empathetic too, and that’s a big part of what makes us such good horse owners: We respond to their needs, desires, and moods.

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3) Horses know when you’re happy

Did you know that horses can recognize emotional responses in human faces? Because they are such social animals, it’s natural for them to want to bond with their trainers—and they form emotional bonds based on certain cues. For example, when researchers showed a series of images depicting different types of facial expressions (both positive and negative) to domestic horses, they noticed distinct reactions based on what was being portrayed.

4) When horses know they have done something wrong, they cry

Human eyes aren’t able to detect a horse’s tears. But if your horse does something it knows it shouldn’t, such as eating from its food bowl when you’re not looking, it will make a unique grunting noise with its tongue to alert you. One study found that horses who knew they had done something wrong laughed so much that their breathing was affected.

5) Horses like the sound of your voice

If your horse is more amenable to hearing you read a book, or is calmer when you’re in his stall, then he probably loves you. In a study of Belgian warmbloods and dressage horses, researchers at Utrecht University and Wageningen University found that horses respond better to people who have been more consistent with their interaction over time. So be around your equine friend as much as possible, and try not to vary your routine too much.

6) Horses can read your body language

Horses can read your body language, so it’s crucial to stay calm when handling them. They have an increased ability to read humans because they are more intelligent than other animals. If you feel nervous or apprehensive around your horse, he will pick up on that and react accordingly. When you approach him with a friendly demeanor, he will be more receptive and willing to follow your direction.

7) A horse can recognize an old friend over time by their scent

The horse’s sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than a bloodhound’s, and can help form lasting bonds between horses. When a friend or relative rides off, most horses will look back and try to pick up their scent to recognize them later on. In some cases, horses have even gone out of their way to re-unite with lost friends.

8) Horses prefer familiar faces

Research has shown that horses react more positively to people they’ve been introduced to previously, versus strangers. This isn’t surprising: Studies have shown that horses are able to recognize human faces and differentiate between them, as well as other non-human animals. So if your horse loves you, you might be able to prove it by knowing what he likes and dislikes!

9) The more you rub a horse’s nose, the more he likes you

A horse’s sense of smell is one of his most powerful senses. The more you rub your horse’s nose, whether with your hand or a brush, the more he will associate your scent with good things (you!). Use rubbing as a bonding technique to reassure him and make him feel safe and secure.

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