Horse emotions
   

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Horse emotions

This is a discussion on Horse emotions within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • What emotions do horses feel?
  • C an horses feel emotions

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    09-02-2013, 11:11 PM
  #1
Foal
Horse emotions

Do horses feel emotions? I just wonder if they ever feel disappointed, or sad or depressed, or also if they feel loved and happy and are greatful to be cared for.. Ya know? Maybe they can feel joy or happiness or maybe of they are less fortunate of good owners or active owners If they feel lonely and depressed?

When I got my gelding he was pretty skinny and hasn't been properly brushed, trimmed, wormed or vetted at all since I have no idea when and he just seemed sad and slow and depressed almost, and after having him so far for 4 months he's healthy and what seems to be a happy glow, he's very curious and gentle and just seems to be uplifted emotionally..

He usually rides wonderful but days when I have to really get after him when were riding and he isn't cooperating sometimes I feel like he is almost sad or ashamed in a way.. Or like most days after we ride and I get off and pet his neck and face he almost has this proud Ora, like did I do good type Ora about him..

I just wonder.. I hope he likes me and knows he is treated well and taken care of and feels joyful to be where he is now
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    09-02-2013, 11:22 PM
  #2
Yearling
I would have never believed it, but after spending so much time with our horses over the last 6 months, I don't know if it is emotion but they defiantly show personality. We have a 4 month old colt that if I have to get on him for trying to bite, jumping too close or getting too close to the feed bucket, he will walk off as if he is pouting.
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    09-02-2013, 11:25 PM
  #3
Yearling
I believe they have emotions. I've seen them experience them. My mare lost her 'boyfriend' to an age related colic. She stood over him when we went to bring him up to the vet, when he was gone she called out, busted down fences and plowed through an iron gate even though she was not herd bound at all and when he was being put to sleep she stood over him without a lead or halter and just lay down next to him for hours until he had gone cold, then wandered back into her field. For months she just walked aimlessly around and didn't socialize with anyone and still isn't the same. When she sees a baby she lights up and goes maternal, caring for them like their her own. Our rescue exhibits emotions too. I've not seen an isolated or coincidental case of emotional response so I figure that they do in fact have emotions.

Scientifically (sorry if I'm going to take the fun out of auras and what not lol) it makes sense that they would because all emotions are are combinations of chemicals and molecules that form in the brain and produce an effect on your brain and body. Serotonin controls your happiness, etc, etc. It only makes sense that animals (horses in this case) who produce these chemicals have emotions. They may not feel the same as a human (have you tried to have a conversation about politics with a horse and got an emotion response? Lol) or experience them at the same times but I believe their there none the less.

In my mind though responses are different. How they act on those emotions may vary from humans just as how they respond and reason to stimuli let's not forget their Equus, not homo sapiens! ;)
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    09-02-2013, 11:31 PM
  #4
Super Moderator
Gratefulness is not an emotion, really.

But, fear, anger, they do experience. And contentment. In fact, I think they are really pure emotion.
     
    09-02-2013, 11:31 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Interesting question. Prepare for a hoard of angry formers accusing you of what is apparently the worst possible sin: anthropomorphizing. For some reason, people can get really defensive when we try to prescribe animals emotions. I don't see why, personally. Aren't people and animals more similar than we are different?

For example: If I were a horse and I saw a disappointed and depressed human, maybe I wouldn't get it. Horse me would sense something is wrong, but the human may express disappointment in a different way then I, as a horse, do. Just because disappointment -- or any emotion really -- is expressed in an alien way doesn't mean it isn't there. Or that it isn't indeed disappointment.

Most humans are disconnected from herd instinct and body language. After all, we have verbal language. Verbal language is amazing and communicates very effectively. Because of verbal language's effectiveness, body language has become a "dead language" among people to an extent. Maybe this has disconnected us from the emotions of non-verbal animals?

Anyway... I believe horses do feel emotions. Horse emotions and in horsey ways, however. Horses can feel anger, frustration, and rage. I once tied a horse who knew how to break ropes and runaway because he didn't like to stand still. He radiated frustration. He pulled back, lightly, several times. He tested the waters. Suddenly, he snapped. He bucked, he bit the rope, he kicked the tree he was tied around. After that didn't work, he went through a phase that struck me as similar to human disappointment. Like a petty child sitting in a corner.

Some people are naturally "horse people" and understand horses very well. I theorize that some horses are naturally "people horses" and understand people very well and people understand them. I have a mare who has an honest competitive spirit. Competitiveness is such a human trait, but my mare seems to have something like it. She knows (because I tell her, via body language I suppose) if we win or lose. When she realizes we are losing, she kicks it up to another level. She finds her second wind of speed and power. Once she's back on top, she quiets down and seems to radiate a sort of horse happiness. Maybe even horse self-satisfaction.

If this sounds crazy, think about how some people are a bit "horse like" themselves. Some people are extremely empathic, read body language very well, and are so in tune with others that it's almost like they're mind readers. I myself have a couple "horse traits" -- maybe a part of an ancient herd instinct before language was refined? One of my friend's brothers was hurt in a football accident Friday night. I didn't know this, but I felt very "stirred up" for some reason and worried. I texted me friend, and she told me she was in the hospital with her brother. Weird, huh? My friend's emotions being transferred to me didn't require language at all.

In summary... Yes, I believe horses experience emotion. And I also believe that people can take part in a horse's emotional experience sometimes. Since horses "speak" with emotion, maybe we can speak horse and horses can speak human.
     
    09-03-2013, 12:06 AM
  #6
Foal
Very well said, basically explained what I was asking and wondering in a great way!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brighteyes    
Interesting question. Prepare for a hoard of angry formers accusing you of what is apparently the worst possible sin: anthropomorphizing. For some reason, people can get really defensive when we try to prescribe animals emotions. I don't see why, personally. Aren't people and animals more similar than we are different?

For example: If I were a horse and I saw a disappointed and depressed human, maybe I wouldn't get it. Horse me would sense something is wrong, but the human may express disappointment in a different way then I, as a horse, do. Just because disappointment -- or any emotion really -- is expressed in an alien way doesn't mean it isn't there. Or that it isn't indeed disappointment.

Most humans are disconnected from herd instinct and body language. After all, we have verbal language. Verbal language is amazing and communicates very effectively. Because of verbal language's effectiveness, body language has become a "dead language" among people to an extent. Maybe this has disconnected us from the emotions of non-verbal animals?

Anyway... I believe horses do feel emotions. Horse emotions and in horsey ways, however. Horses can feel anger, frustration, and rage. I once tied a horse who knew how to break ropes and runaway because he didn't like to stand still. He radiated frustration. He pulled back, lightly, several times. He tested the waters. Suddenly, he snapped. He bucked, he bit the rope, he kicked the tree he was tied around. After that didn't work, he went through a phase that struck me as similar to human disappointment. Like a petty child sitting in a corner.

Some people are naturally "horse people" and understand horses very well. I theorize that some horses are naturally "people horses" and understand people very well and people understand them. I have a mare who has an honest competitive spirit. Competitiveness is such a human trait, but my mare seems to have something like it. She knows (because I tell her, via body language I suppose) if we win or lose. When she realizes we are losing, she kicks it up to another level. She finds her second wind of speed and power. Once she's back on top, she quiets down and seems to radiate a sort of horse happiness. Maybe even horse self-satisfaction.

If this sounds crazy, think about how some people are a bit "horse like" themselves. Some people are extremely empathic, read body language very well, and are so in tune with others that it's almost like they're mind readers. I myself have a couple "horse traits" -- maybe a part of an ancient herd instinct before language was refined? One of my friend's brothers was hurt in a football accident Friday night. I didn't know this, but I felt very "stirred up" for some reason and worried. I texted me friend, and she told me she was in the hospital with her brother. Weird, huh? My friend's emotions being transferred to me didn't require language at all.

In summary... Yes, I believe horses experience emotion. And I also believe that people can take part in a horse's emotional experience sometimes. Since horses "speak" with emotion, maybe we can speak horse and horses can speak human.
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    09-03-2013, 01:26 AM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incitatus32    
For months she just walked aimlessly around and didn't socialize with anyone and still isn't the same. When she sees a baby she lights up and goes maternal, caring for them like their her own.
Oh my goodness, I want to give your mare a hug!!
     
    09-03-2013, 01:34 AM
  #8
Yearling
I'll pass one on for you ;) She's better since we just got a weanling in and she's getting to be nanny AGAIN. Haha if it didn't make her so happy I'd grumble about having a tagalong for the next couple of months. She also picked a new boyfriend (from the same owner none the less) but the problem is that he leaves for Florida in the winter :P You know they never covered stuff like this in horse ownership 101 lol
     
    09-03-2013, 03:00 AM
  #9
Green Broke
Yes they do have feelings or emotions but I don't think they are the same as what we feel. They do like and dislike but I don't think they go to the extremes of love or hate. They feel good but are they actually happy? They feel loss or separation but are they actually sad?

Some may say that their horse loves them because the horse wants to be near them and be touched. It could be that they've been trained that its better to be near us or they do like being touched. I really don't know if they love us though.

We will probably never know for sure. I do think that many do try to give horses human emotions which really aren't there.
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    09-03-2013, 03:21 AM
  #10
Showing
They have emotions but it's not the same as ours. Have you ever seen a horse play with a hose or in water? You can tell from a mile away that they are happy and curious. When horses roll and they just go at it for a few minutes longer, rubbing dirt all over themselves and grunting, they're enjoying the experience.

But love and jealousy and other human like emotions that we all experience regularly.. I don't think horses have. I know they feel safe and content, but looooove? I'm not sure.
     

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