Decoding Equine Emotions

You turn two horses out in a field together and watch with amusement as they interact. The horses, long-time friends, are thrilled to see each other; they squeal in delight, careen around in glee, roll ecstatically and vigorously scratch each others’ backs in greeting. Their joy is evident. Well, it certainly looks like joy … but is it? The truth is, equine scientists know very little about horses’ emotions for the simple reason that horses cannot tell us what they are feeling. There are some things about equine emotions that we know for sure (that are agreed upon by most equine researchers), some things that we think we know (that equine researchers are exploring), and some things that might be possible. What do we know for sure? The short answer is: not very much. Historically, animals were thought to be capable of only the most rudimentary mental processes. The idea of…

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