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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

     
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        12-10-2009, 01:18 PM
      #21
    Started
    IRIDEHORSES
    That's the second time you have provoked a discussion between me and Her Indoors - who studied psychology as part of her profession. She is on your side.

    Quote:
    A horse learns by Stimulus and Response. It could be positive or negative and there are volumes written on both.

    PLEASE POINT ME IN THE DIRECTION OF A SUITABLE BOOK
    RELEVANT TO HORSES.

    Barry G
         
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        12-10-2009, 01:47 PM
      #22
    Weanling
    In discussions of this sort there's a danger of analyzing too far-- everything we say or think, after all, is from a human mind --- which in turn can be analyzed into just a soup of chemical reactions. So I am one who isn't afraid of anthropomorphizing-- sometimes it's just as close as a human can get to understanding another species.

    Studying the horse as a natural herd animal, understanding the way it has evolved to deal with survival is foremost. Any emotions will have to be consistent with this.

    The problem I see is one person seeing a behavior as "love" and another as "gluttony." How you'd handle this would differ! "Laziness" vs "unmotivated"; "not accepting" to "not understanding"; is it "anger" or "frustration"? The human response may well differ from very similar horse (mis)behavior. Is she on the bit, or is she being forced into a frame? "On the bit" implies submission, confidence, and a willingness to move forward. A flash will mask your problem--- I used one for some 8 years, and when my trainer left, I took it off --- and I realized my horse hadn't learned a thing.

    People who use forse, and only force, are often successful because they are simple to understand and consistent. Horses like that combo, and are perhaps less afraid of physical bangups than we are. I also believe horses are very, very sensitive to human emotions--- what I call "vibes" --- and without analysis will nevertheless respond to them as they would to a gust of wind or the sun on their backs.

    BUT comparing a horse to a child would be wrong: a child is incomplete.
         
        12-10-2009, 01:50 PM
      #23
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    Rachel says Quote:
    “A horse's ultimate goal is to be comfortable AGREED
    And not be bothered - DOES A HORSE SUFFER FROM BOREDOM?.


    Yes, I would say horses feel boredom. There are behavioral reactions that could relate to this, such as cribbing.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    For example, when I exercise ride Dash she understands that if she performs as I want her to, the session will end quicker than if she was to misbehave.
    CAN THE HORSE REASON TO THIS EXTENT AND MAKE DEDUCTIONS?
    So, she performs well -DOES SHE RECOGNISE WHEN SHE HAS DONE WELL? And gets turned out quicker where she can get back to eating and being comfortable.


    Absolutely a horse can make deductions. I would argue they do in every day situations. They also know what they want. For example, a horse can deduce whether or not they want to walk through a puddle or around it, or whether or not they want to stand under a tree or out in the open when it rains.

    Yes, she can recognize when she has done well because I ask less of her or I don't ask her to repeat until she gets it right.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    When I groom Dash and she drifts off to sleep for a minute or two I don't think she's feeling pleasure in the same sense that we would if we were getting a massage and fell asleep. WHY NOT - CAN SHE NOT FEEL PLEASURE?
    She understands the situation and is comfortable with it, so she shuts her eyes for a bit - MAYBE. BUT WHEN I RUB MY MARE‘S SACRUM AREA - SHE ROCKS WITH THE MASSAGE - I AM CERTAIN SHE IS FEELING “PLEASURE“..

    Obviously all animals feel fear and pain - these are instinctual feelings that ALL creatures on this earth feel - but I don't believe that they "feel" pleasure in the sense that humans do. IS NOT PAIN THE OPPOSITE OF PLEASURE?


    Yes, pleasure is the opposite of pain and of course horses can distinguish between (and even choose to do) what feels "good" verses what doesn't, such as the option to eat and feel a full, satisfied stomach or to not eat and feel a grumbling, upset stomach. I believe horses respond to positive reinforcement whether that be food or a pat on the neck because it doesn't hurt. Does it feel good, yes I suppose so, but do we really know if they associate things that feel "good" at the same level that we associate pleasure? I think of pleasure as something that a human craves, they want it; they need it to feel good. I don't think my horse craves to be groomed or petted, she could get along just fine with simply being fed.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    Think about it, almost EVERY situation where a horse is sick or acting out has to do with some sort of pain, not an emotion, unlike humans. WHY CANNOT A HORSE FEEL SAD OR DEPRESSED OR WORRIED OR FEARFUL?


    When I said this I was merely referring to the often discussed issues on this forum pertaining to bucking or not eating, for example.

    Worried and fearful, yes, as these are natural instincts that all animals feel. Sad or depressed? This I do not know, as how could we really tell if a horse was sad or depressed in the sense that humans can feel sadness or depression?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    Rachel - this is another hypothetical question:

    However if today we had been presented with the horse, without any prior knowledge from the old manuals, would we now use the same techniques if we started from afresh?
    Would we make the same assumptions about the horse's mental capacity?

    BG
    Yes, I think I would. If I was to work with a horse for the first time, never having observed herd nature or horse mannerisms, it would still be apparent that a horse has an instinctually-based reactive system. If I am threatening, the horse will run away. If I provide food the horse will begin to trust me. If I establish dominance the horse will respect me, etc. In order to work with a horse these reactions need to be observed and worked around/with. That is how I approach my training.
         
        12-10-2009, 01:52 PM
      #24
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Beling    
    BUT comparing a horse to a child would be wrong: a child is incomplete.
    This is very interesting, and very correct.
         
        12-10-2009, 03:07 PM
      #25
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iridehorses    
    A horse learns by Stimulus and Response. It could be positive or negative and there are volumes written on both. We attribute too much human emotion to animals; they do not understand concepts or complex implications. As an example, they do not understand that pointing a gun to their head means the possibility of death or harm.

    And yet, I have two mares that live on the side of my house and every time I come outside with a gun( to shoot an destructive woodpecker) they run to the other side of the field to escape the BANG!
    They do not run if I do not have the gun.
         
        12-10-2009, 03:56 PM
      #26
    Started
    Beling
    QUote
    "On the bit" implies submission, confidence, and a willingness to move forward. A flash will mask your problem--- I used one for some 8 years, and when my trainer left, I took it off --- and I realized my horse hadn't learned a thing. "

    The rider, who is doing well, wanted the running martingale and the flash put back on . The rider felt that the horse was deliberately evading the bit. She said: "The horse was cunning and had worked out how to evade the action of the bit."
    The flash helped to enforce compliance by forcing the mouth closed. The horse then did was she had been asked to do and what she was capable of doing (because I watched her do it).

    I as the owner had previously removed the flash and the martingale - over 12 months ago. Yesterday it was put back.

    Was it necessary for me to relent and to allow the re-imposition
    Of two tiedowns - the flash and martingale?

    As you say, the truth will be to leave the flash and the martingale for a week or so and then remove it - yet again.

    But is the horse really being devious ?
    Is the horse now under duress because of the tie downs
    Is it even necessary for her to go in a rounded outline in order to
    please a dressage judge?

    But I have to say the horse looked magnificent especially in collected canter within a relatively small arena.
    Maybe I am guilty of vanity.

    Here we go - I can tie her down and force the horse - is there another way?

    B G
         
        12-10-2009, 04:26 PM
      #27
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    Somehow in this expression there has to be: “trust” - perhaps yet another Emotion?
    But Barry, trust isn't an emotion…it comes from experience and comes in varying degrees. A horse will trust you to get it through POSSIBLE horse eating mud puddles or pass QUESTIONABLE portals to horsey hell, but it will not sacrifice itself if it KNOWS a danger is real…it won't walk off a cliff for you. A human analogy might be trusting a total stranger not to bash your skull in, but would you leave your unguarded wallet within their reach? As long as a human upholds their end of the bargain, that human will be viewed with the same level of trust by a horse.
         
        12-10-2009, 04:27 PM
      #28
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marecare    
    And yet, I have two mares that live on the side of my house and every time I come outside with a gun( to shoot an destructive woodpecker) they run to the other side of the field to escape the BANG!
    They do not run if I do not have the gun.
    Understanding and avoiding a gun because of a loud BANG is quite different from understanding that it kills.
         
        12-10-2009, 05:14 PM
      #29
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    IRIDEHORSES
    That's the second time you have provoked a discussion between me and Her Indoors - who studied psychology as part of her profession. She is on your side.
    A wise woman. My degree is in Clinical Psychology and, although I chose to use it towards business career wise, I have applied it to animals in general and horses in particular.

    I'll look for some books that I think relevant to my point.

    Back to the point, I don't believe horses have emotions the way we interpret them. I do feel that they experience loss, loneliness, and anger but those are terms that we use. For a horse, they are simple, not complex feelings. A mare feels the loss of her foal but not for very long while the stallion has no feelings of fatherhood at all. A horse may have a feeling of loneliness but that can be explained by the herd mentality - needing others to give strength and protection to all of them.
         
        12-10-2009, 05:39 PM
      #30
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iridehorses    
    the stallion has no feelings of fatherhood at all.
    and yet there are human men that are the same....
    Anyway.....
    I've always wondered about this subject. It mostly came about with my first horse love. A gelding named Trix Four Kids. I spent a lot of time with him and developed a strong relationship with him. He would never hurt a fly... intentionally. He constantly stepped on peoples feet and ran into things... but he was just never paying attention lol. Ok so to the point of this. My boyfriend started coming to the barn and spending time there.

    Trix was fine with him, until one day. I was with Trix and he came over and he was still fine, until he kissed me. Trix lost his mind. He started lunging at him over the door, mouth wide open, ears pinned. My boyfriend couldnt touch me near him, he would take his head if he came close, and put it between us and pull me against his stall with his head and not let my boyfriend come close. Even if we were down the isleway a little, if he saw him touch me he would get upset, pinning his ears, hanging his head low and just giving that "p*ssed off look".

    I went to work for another stable and had to leave my Trix, but I still went to visit him every day. Then one day a friend came to my stable I was at and told me my cousin had sold him to the amish. I started bawling my eyes out and ran to him but they already put him on the trailer. I climbed up on the side and he pushed his face into the bars as hard as he could and I touched his nose, and they left. He had the most depressed look on his face I had ever seen.

    Since that day I had always wondered, did he love me? Was he jealous? Was he upset he was on a trailer leaving me? Would he remember me if he saw me now? And if I ever had him back, would that bond we had, that relationship, still be the same??
         

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