21 Comments
Feb 15, 2023Liked by Renate Larssen

Very interesting, thanks! I believe horses can care about their human if they are treated with kindness and caring, and it is mutually beneficial for humans to be kind to each other as well as to all animals. My ‘one in a million’ mare came to me at age three and was part of my life until she was forty. She taught me a lot and enriched my life as we learned to communicate with each other as much as possible in non-verbal but meaningful ways.

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Mar 8, 2023Liked by Renate Larssen

I've seen my relationship with my horse changed when I started to respond to every nosing behaviour he offered. Just offering my hand for him to sniff, playing slowly with his mouth or even just interrupting what I was doing to acknowledge that he was reaching out.

Now, he's communicating sooo much more and is much more chilled at the same time. I even got groomed back a few times when I was scratching an itchy spot. Of course we have to figure out how to make this work in a horse-to-human way. I'm really sad to see that it's been studied how these behaviours disappear in relationship to time spent in training.

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Feb 16, 2023Liked by Renate Larssen

Thank you for elaborating!

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Thank you for the article- was such an interesting read. Your statement on horses ways of communicating affection is often punished really hit home. My guy often rubs and scratches his face on me. When he has a fly and I’m near him, he leans into my to get the fly. I’ve had so many people tell me he’s being “rude” or “pushy.” This article helped reaffirm my beliefs it’s him saying he trusts me and finds comfort in me. Thank you!

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My horses call to me and run around if I leave the property. They always greet me with enthusiasm and come at a trot or canter from anywhere on the property. The call to me in the house, if I cough or sneeze. If I call to them, they answer. They want my attention. I love that!

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I have always wondered why sport horses or horses who are regularly abused by their owners greet them with neighing nevertheless. Even if on their arrival owners give their horses some treats, surely the horse must know that after this little carrot an hour or so of torture will follow?

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why should they exactly love and why exactly their owners ?

They like me, some of them, sometimes and i like them, most of them, sometimes. I talk with animals, of course there is some kind of exchange, I guess not rational, but definitely emotional.

And I talk with people as well, or write with them, and you know what? You are not writing about horses emotions, you are struggeling with your emotions. Hey, these are emotions, you can't calculate them, you can't measure them, you even can't have them. They are just happening. Or not.

I'm not a horse owner, not a horse expert, not an animal owner at all. But I take pictures of the horses I'm talking with, portraits, very individual and than I realized, that horse pictures from horse owners, horse experts are very different, they show the horse as a good, as a product.

And how do emotions happen, or not ? The first - hm - step is always some attention from one beeing for another and maybe there is attention from the other beeing as well and so a relation, a tension might develop. It's nothing, one side has or does.

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Horse world is very confusing now. There is an enormous swing in thought as to how people, and especially horse trainers, relate to horses. A trainer at the Olympics gave a recalcitrant horse a spank on the butt to move it away from the fence, and horse world is outraged. The sort of behavior that wouldn’t give anyone a second thought 10 years ago, is now considered morally reprehensible.

I am curious to see where this will go. Will people being “nicer” to horses improve our relationships with them? Or will horses come to see us as weak-willed pushovers who only exist to cater to their whims?

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Very interesting Renate! Well thought-out.

I have read that mutual grooming happens mostly after a stress situation, and between friends. I believe that food sharing is not a part of social bonding. Proximity is. Can you point me to the relevant study? Thank you.

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