Which Emotions are present in Horses?
 
 

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Which Emotions are present in Horses?

This is a discussion on Which Emotions are present in Horses? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • How do horses respond to human emotion
  • Do horses react to human emotion

 
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    12-10-2009, 06:11 AM
  #1
Guest
Which Emotions are present in Horses?

“Emotion is a & physiological state associated with a wide variety of feelings , thoughts & behaviours. Emotions are subjective experiences often associated with mood ,temperament ,personality and disposition“.
says 'Wikipedia'.

“Emotion is a complex state of an organism involving bodily changes of a widespread character including breathing, pulse, gland secretion and on the mental side: excitement and usually an impulse towards a definite form of behaviour.”
says 'A Dictionary of Psychology'

So - it follows that if you can tap into the emotions of a horse you can perhaps direct its actions? But which emotions does a horse espress?

We already accept this in that we put a horse under stress until it does as we command - then we release the stress. We are playing on the emotion of "fear".

The question is that in addition to “fear” which emotions do you recognise in horses?
and it follows :
Which other emotions can we capitalize on instead of "fear" in the training process?

Barry G
     
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    12-10-2009, 08:01 AM
  #2
Guest
The first question which now must arise is
What exactly are the emotions present in humans which
may be present in equines?
Fear - both H & E yes
Anger
Jealousy
Love
Excitement &/or exhilaration
Sadness
Distress &/or anguish &/or stress
Boredom

What else is an emotion ?

Barry G
     
    12-10-2009, 08:23 AM
  #3
Guest
Zeitler Feicht writes in “Horse Behaviour Explained”

Quote It can be generally assumed that horses experience pain fear and other emotions which is known in technical jargon as ‘conclusion by analogy’ however anthropomorphic (loosely in this context ‘human”) thinking is the wrong way to assess these (emotions).

In other words how we come to an emotion or judge an emotion as humans should not be assumed to be the way a horse would judge the same conditions.

So: No horse would feel ‘snug’ tucked up in a warm bed but how does it feel about being in a stable with a deep straw litter bed??
However ZF goes no further in this book to consider which other emotions are possible in horses.

So
Does a horse experience “love/affection” or does it merely respond to its hormones and the business of sex follows?

Is the horse pleased to see its owner - or merely pleased at the idea that food is imminent or being let out to the pasture is now possible?

Does the horse respond to its rider’s stroke on the mane?

Does the horse recognise a kindly tone in a humane - or does it merely here a voice - recognised or unrecognised

SO my idea is that could we by manipulating the horse emotions persuade it to perform an act which otherwise we might induce by the threat of the whip - or by a poke of the fingers accompanied by a shout?

If we merely deny what the horse is expecting - yes we make it impatient but can we turn that to our advantage?

And finally are there emotions in horses which are not evident in humans??????

Barry G
     
    12-10-2009, 08:37 AM
  #4
Yearling
I've always wondered if a horse could feel shame, embarrassment, envy, love, hate, etc. I've been reading a bio on seabiscuit, and they said that He could ruin another horse's confidence and the horse would seem to be embarrassed after it lost. And Seabiscuit would tease them as he passed, and would be 'ashamed' and 'embarrassed' when he lost.
So, I'm not sure, but, to me, that sounds like the horse has some varied emotion.
My horse often shows excitement, fear, jealousy, happiness, and what I think is 'love' for horses. She has a best friend in the field with her, BUT that could only be because horses are herd animals and naturally want to be with other horses, not love or affection.

BUT I hadn't seen my horse in about 11 months cause I sold her and just bought her back. When other people came up to the gait, she'd walk up to them, but that's about it. When I came to see her, she was up at the gait and saw me coming. She started neighing and pawing and got really excited. As soon as she sniffed me, she burried her head in my arms.

So, its hard to say if a horse feels what we consider 'human emotions' but I think they can, to an extent.
     
    12-10-2009, 08:43 AM
  #5
Yearling
I also think a lot of their emotions are related to self preservation: fear - from predators; 'love/affection' - the drive to be with other horses (herd) to better their chances at survival; excitement when they see their owner/handler - food or shelter even? I'm not sure :/
     
    12-10-2009, 08:51 AM
  #6
Guest
How about the emotions of:

harmony & conversly disharmony
content(ment) & conversely discontent(ment)
companionship
lonely/loneliness
     
    12-10-2009, 08:58 AM
  #7
Guest
LTS quote:
"When I came to see her, she was up at the gait and saw me coming. She started neighing and pawing and got really excited. As soon as she sniffed me, she burried her head in my arms".

Well what is that but a distinct display of emotion - and how
Would you have described a similar greeting from your best friend?????

And who has worked on that horse to create that display - you of course and the horse has responded - over time too

B G
     
    12-10-2009, 09:04 AM
  #8
Guest
What about

Pleasure ?

& as LTS writes:

Pride ????

To that do we add

Shame??
     
    12-10-2009, 09:08 AM
  #9
Showing
But is that "emotion" a response as the bell was with Pavlov's dog? A horse meets you at the gait and puts his head against your chest. That could be a simple response to a learned behavior. See owner - neigh a recognition - position head for a great scratch that always comes = the horse thinking that it's all about that enjoyable scratch on the head that I know is coming!!!!! Positive reinforcement rather then negative.
     
    12-10-2009, 09:51 AM
  #10
Guest
Well, perhaps but in this instance, was the horse’s response generated by the gate?
Or was it a response generated by the appearance of the former owner - LTS?
A horse meets you at the gait and puts his head against your chest. That could be a simple response to a learned behavior. See owner - neigh a recognition - position head for a great scratch that always comes = the horse thinking that it's all about that enjoyable scratch on the head that I know is coming!!!!! Positive reinforcement rather then negative.
Ie “ was the whole reaction generated by the anticipation of a soothing scratch - namely the horse is anticipating a “pleasure” ?????”

LTS believes that the horse’s gesture was a token of reunited love/affection
IRH associates it with an anticipated pleasureable sensation

How can either prove their interpretation is the correct one.??

But the fact remains the horse made a response which was not provoked by fear or a direct action - the horse was obviously anticipating something more.

How can we absorb/bring the horse’s emotional reaction into every day handling?

What should we be thinking each time we handle the horse?
- how can we condition the horse to expect, in return for?
And can we use this concept of ‘emotion’ in the process?

How can we get away from: threat/otherwise
to ask/perform (as a favour)
B G


PS This gets very difficult to put into words.

We need more examples of "emotional" response.
     

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