Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
They certainly feel affection for some horses and some humans. When we sold Lilly in Dec 2010, Mia spent days standing at the edge of the corral where she could see the direction Lilly left. And she spent a lot of time calling softly while looking that way.
After a week, she stopped. I have no idea what would happen if she met Lilly again, but if we build a house on our empty lot, we'll find out - it is only 500 feet from Lilly's corral.
Toward humans? Affection, yes. Love? That depends on how deep the connection has to be before you call it love. When I proposed to my wife 6 weeks after our first date, I said I loved her. 26 years later, maybe I do. A lot of good times and a lot of very hard times over the last 26 years has changed what I call 'love'.
Horses have a very different way of thinking than humans do. On the whole, I think it is wrong to use words for human relations and apply it to a relationship with a horse.
I have 3 horses. The 2 geldings trust me to feed them and be fair in my treatment of them. They 'like' me, but that like would be better described as 'they are content to be around me'. The mare & I have spent a lot more time together, and have had enough 'shared misery' to bond a bit more. She will seek me out for comfort when things are bad, and acts affectionate. She sometimes sticks her head under my arm after a ride, closes her eyes and listens as I talk into her ear. When riding, we are both constantly aware of each other, in a way that is very different from any other horse I've ridden. She is by far the most human-oriented horse I've met.
But if I sold her to a good owner, would she stand at the edge of the corral and call out to me for a week? Not one chance in one thousand. We're friends, but she isn't a human and she isn't a dog and I don't think I am fair to her to apply human ideas to her actions.
... Energy is an admirable thing, but the energy of stupidity seldom avails much..." - On Seats and Saddles (1868), Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars (light cavalry)