Research shows horses are “emotional sponges”

Image filed with How Horses Perceive and Respond to Human Emotion, by Medical News Today.

Anyone who has interacted with horses has some awareness of how sensitive they are to the world around them and the people who enter into their sphere. Research into the human—equine dynamic affirms this and more.

In a recent post by Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA on The Horse magazine’s website, entitled Horses Are “Emotional Sponges” , it states:

“Horses are truly emotional sponges, and they react strongly and very rapidly to our human emotions,” said Léa Lansade, PhD, of the French Horse and Riding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Research’s behavior science department, in Tours.

In a recent study, Lansade and her fellow researchers, including PhD student Miléna Trösch, tested horses’ ability to associate human vocal and facial emotional expressions. They projected short video clips without sound of an unfamiliar woman on either side of each study horse. In one video the woman was making an “angry” face; in the other she was making a “joyful” face.

At the same time, the scientists played an audio clip of a different, also unfamiliar, woman vocalizing either anger or joy through nonverbal sounds (no words), such as grrr and aah.

The test horses—34 Welsh mares—only interacted with humans for basic maintenance and care. But despite having such a limited relationship with humans and despite being exposed to the emotions of an unknown human, the mares had “strong reactions” to the emotions displayed in the experiment, said Lansade.

The mares’ heartbeats rose dramatically, and their behavior became indicative of stress—with stiff, alert postures—when they heard sounds of angry human emotions compared to happy ones, she said. By contrast, with joyful vocal expressions, they became “more peaceful,” with relaxed postures and lower heart rates.

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From this we can perhaps begin to imagine how deep a horse’s sensitivity runs resulting in heightened emotions especially when treated in a cruel or abusive manner. This is extremely important and silences claims by those humans who claim that “horses are just dumb animals” and have no idea what may be about to happen to them.

RELATED READING

How horses perceive and respond to human emotion, Medical News Today, by Ana Sandoiu, June 23, 2018 (external link)

Virtual energy field communication between horse and human, Gentle Horse Trainer Missy Wryn, December 9, 2015 (external link)

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Why modern day horses have only one toe

Close up of a horse's hoof. Photo: iStock.

They can reach speeds of more than 40km (c. 25 miles) an hour, clear hurdles more than eight feet high and even pirouette — and they manage it all with just one toe on each foot. Horses are singular in this fascinating characteristic, but it did not start out that way.

While the modern day horse has one toe on each foot, his predecessors had four toes on their front feet and three on their back. [1]

In “How the Horse Became the Only Animal with One Toe”, HorseTango.com member Colt writes:

While it has long been thought that the shift was linked to horses moving from forest to grassland environments, it was unclear how this anatomical change happened.

Now researchers say they have cracked the conundrum.

“The centre digit was compensating simultaneously for increasing body size and reducing side digits – which is definitely not something we knew before,” said the aptly named Brianna McHorse, first author of the research and a PhD candidate at Harvard University. [2]

Researchers say over time horse side toes may have been lost to help them move faster and more efficiently. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.
Researchers say over time horse side toes may have been lost to help them move faster and more efficiently. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.

Giorgia Guglielmi writing similarly for ScienceMag.org states:

How horses—whose ancestors were dog-sized animals with three or four toes—ended up with a single [toe] has long been a matter of debate among scientists. Now, a new study suggests that as horses became larger, one big toe provided more resistance to bone stress than many smaller toes.

To trace the evolution of the horse toe, researchers first examined 13 fossilized horse leg bones, from those of the 50-million-year-old, dog-sized Hyracotherium (which had three toes on his hind feet and four on his forefeet) to those of modern horses. They measured features like bone length and area using 3D scanning, which revealed the bones’ resistance to stresses such as squeezing or bending.

The team then estimated the body weight of each of the horses and calculated how much stress their leg bones would have been subjected to when trotting or jumping. As their body mass increased, horses’ center toes got bigger and more resistant to stress, whereas their side toes shrank and eventually disappeared. (August 2017). [3]

Robin Bendrey, a zooarchaeologist from the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the research, said the study was exciting.

“[It] makes a major contribution to explaining a major evolutionary adaptative trend of the family Equidae and one which ultimately produced an animal that has been so influential in human history,” he said. [4]

Amen.

Shakespeare said, “No Foot. No Horse”.  The triangle at the bottom of a horse’s foot (the frog) provides shock absorption, traction, protection and more.  See “Equine Hoof Care: The Flourishing Frog,” TheHorse.com, 11 July 2019.
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Istanbul reins in carriage rides over ‘dying horses’

A horse drawn carriage passes by in a street on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul on November 29, 2019. - It's one of the classic excursions in Istanbul: a boat journey to one of the car-free Princes' Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. But the carriage rides have become increasingly controversial in recent years as activists sound the alarm over the welfare of the horses. Some 400 a year are dying on the islands, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

ISTANBUL, Dec 23 — It has been one of the classic excursions for tourists and locals in Istanbul: A boat trip to one of the car-free Princes’ Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through pine forests and past elegant mansions and houses where Turkish writers lived.

But its days may be numbered after the Istanbul authorities on Friday announced a three-month ban on the carriage rides following mounting alarm over the welfare of the horses.

Up to 400 are dying on the islands a year from overwork and lack of care, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high.

Citing disease, malnutrition and neglect, activists have called for the industry to be replaced with more humane — if less romantic — electric vehicles.

The horses are “merely seen as lifeless objects” and “no different from transport vehicles like buses”, said Elif Erturk, of the “Don’t Take Carriages, Horses Are Dying” initiative, which has organised protests and petitions.

“There are horses injured because of overworking and maltreatment. They are not being treated and therefore they die,” she said.

AFP journalists were given access last month to the newest stables built in 2006 on the largest of the islands, Buyukada, where horses were standing in their own manure and only makeshift panels separated their stalls.

Near the stables, horse bones could be seen scattered on the ground.

“The stables are disastrous, full of dirt and trash,” Erturk said. “It is not possible for any living thing to survive there.”

There are no vets or animal hospitals on the islands, and AFP also saw horses with open wounds pulling carriages.

Source article »

Ban the carriage horse trade worldwide. It’s had its day. It is outdated, cruel and deadly to horses.


FEATURED IMAGES: A horse drawn carriage passes by in a street on the island of Buyukada off Istanbul on November 29, 2019. “It’s one of the classic excursions in Istanbul: a boat journey to one of the car-free Princes’ Islands followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. But the carriage rides have become increasingly controversial in recent years as activists sound the alarm over the welfare of the horses. Some 400 a year are dying on the islands, a parliament committee reported in October, and activists say the real number is twice as high“. (Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

Black Beauty

Close up of a camera lens. By Premium Beat.

Hey there folks. This is such a great portrait I just had to share.

We know all about the ugliness that can go on here. So we need all the beauty we can get in order to survive this world intact.


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