Return to Questions and Answers Index

Q&A    Questions and Answers:


To cowboy Bob,

I was wondering, can a horse really love or like you? Is he in it for the food all the time, or is he just pleased to see me?

- B. R.


Excellent question! Some time ago, I read that some scientist had concluded that animals were incapable of human-like emotion. The animal brain, he claimed, only operated on a basis of stimulus and response.

Frankly, I didn't believe it then and I still don't.

Granted, a horse's brain is very limited, and a lot of what it does is based on pure instinct -- including an instinct to bond with its herd-mates, even herd-mates from other species. It may even be that horses love food, protection, etc. more than they ever love human companionship. But I still think that horses and other animals are capable of actual love.

Here's an example with a critter that has an even smaller brain than the horse does:

When I was in high school, I had a parakeet named "Billy Boy." One summer, I went to a Boy Scout camp in New Mexico for a couple of weeks. As I was packing, Billy Boy was out of his cage, hopping around on my pack, bedroll, shoulder, even my head. Finally, I said goodbye to Billy Boy, put him back in his cage and left.

When I returned, my brother told me that Billy Boy was dead. There was no sign of illness, but he stopped eating, drinking, or communicating with the rest of my family. He just moped in his cage, head drooping, until my brother found him on the bottom of his cage... dead. All we could figure was that his little bird-brain decided that I was gone forever -- and he died of a broken heart.

Maybe it will help if we narrow down our definition of "love." Probably the best definition ever written is found in First Corinthians, chapter 13:

"...Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

"Love never fails...."

If your horse comes close to meeting that high standard, I think it's safe to say it really loves you. And it probably loves you better than a lot of people love.

No matter how well your horse may love you, however, it still falls far short of how much God loves you. "For God so loved [your name here] that he gave his one and only Son, that if [your name here] believes in him [your name here] shall not perish but have eternal life." -- John 3:16, Cowboy Bob's translation.

Thanks again for your question. I hope this helps.

Happy Horse Loving!

Previous Question  |  Next Question

Return arrow Return to Questions and Answers Index

Return arrow Return to the "Learning More About Horses..." page

  The contents of this document are not for reproduction.