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2.11.2021 Sharing The Science

Enhanced Understanding of Horse-Human Interactions to Optimize Welfare

How does your horse see the world? How does he see you? Does he know how you feel? This scientific review looks at how horses read humans, with a view to helping us understand how we can make our horses’ lives better.

Simple Summary

Horses are used by humans for sport, companionship, and as a working animal. Understanding how horses perceive and interact with humans can aid in developing positive interaction approaches, thereby enhancing their welfare. It is also important to be able to recognize behavioural indicators of negative affective states, as the failure to do so when working with horses will negatively impact their welfare when working with humans. The objective of this review is to highlight the current literature surrounding horse–human interaction through the horse’s sensory capabilities, cognition, emotional states, emotional transfer, personality, and attachment styles. This review reveals the various ways horses read humans, such as by our odours, posture, and vocal repertoire, all of which affect the horse’s interpretation of us. While it is difficult to truly know how a horse thinks and feels, paying attention to subtle behavioural signals can give us insight on how horses prefer humans to interact with them. As we are continuously growing our knowledge on how horses view humans, it is important for those working with horses for sport, companionship, or as a working animal to be open to evolving and modifying tactics used to create a positive experience for the horse.

Read the full article here.

Merkies K, Franzin O. Enhanced Understanding of Horse-Human Interactions to Optimize Welfare. Animals (Basel). 2021 May 9;11(5):1347. doi: 10.3390/ani11051347. PMID: 34065156; PMCID: PMC8151687.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

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