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Thank you Cowboy Bob.

I am using information from your website for my Jr. High science fair project, "How horses show emotions." If you have any unique facts about how and why horses show their emotion I would like to include it in my research. Thanks.

-- K. D.


I don't know if there's anything "unique" about the way horses display emotions other than the language they use to communicate those emotions. Since they can't say much out loud aside from a whinnie or nicker, they have to communicate by their body language. It's hard to lie in body language, so this makes them much more open and honest about their emotions.

Their range of emotions isn't much different than ours. They need security, they avoid being hurt, they need companionship, they have a strong desire to reproduce (unless humans surgically remove the source of that desire), they like things that make them feel good, etc. Look up some "emotion" words in a good thesaurus or synonym finder and you'll get a glimpse at how many emotions they can have.

If a horse is afraid of something, he'll lay his ears back and show the whites of his eyes; he might even snort or bare his teeth. I recall a time Fanny needed some comforting reassurance. We had a new farrier working on her feet, and she was a little frightened by the new situation. Next thing I knew, she had her head buried under my arm as if to say, "Protect me, Bob." It was the same behavior she would have shown as a foal when she huddled between her dam's legs when afraid.

If a horse holds its head high, it may be trying to say it's higher in the pecking order. On the other hand, if it approaches with its mouth close to the ground and making a chewing motion, it's saying, "I'm subordinate and submissive to you."

By the way, I'm assuming you've read Q&A #78 - "Do you think my horse really loves me?".

Save your research notes -- you may have the makings of a good doctoral dissertation some day!

God bless!

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