Are Horses Loyal : Awesome Facts


Image Credit: Mane Horses Coupling Brown Horses from Maxpixel

Horses have remained humans’ close companions. These animals have been used for riding, racing, pulling carriages, and even as pets. But are they loyal like other animals, including dogs?

Horses are one of the most loyal companion animals humans can ever have. Why so? Because they have an excellent memory and can form a solid bond with humans. A horse can remember your face as well as show attachment if treated well.

That being said, if you neglect or ill-treat a horse, it will remember even that and will act negatively. So, to understand a horse’s loyalty, you would need to treat it well, caringly, and friendly. 

Do horses feel love for their owners?

Image Credit: Hugging a horse from Pixabay

So, horses have a strong memory, and they are known to be versatile. But have you ever wondered if your horse loves you or misses you like other companion animals? Let’s find out.

Experts are sceptical if horses feel love for their owners. It is said that horses are not capable of feeling love towards their owners as dogs do. Also, science does not prove anything on behalf of horses’ love towards humans. But they show signs of connections via licking, nuzzling, whinnying, etc.

So, horses can form attachments and reciprocate affection if treated well. Veterinarians believe that horses find humans as their “haven”, but they do not specifically love one human over another. 

What is more loyal a dog or a horse?

Image Credit: A black horse cuddling a Labrador from Pxfuel

We all know that a dog is a man’s best friend. But they are not the only ones, as there are horses in this category as well. But who is more loyal- a dog or a horse?

The loyalty shown by a dog and a horse is incomparable. Both animals show dedication in different manners. Horses are prey animals, while dogs are predators. Just because both of them show loyalty to their humans doesn’t mean we should compare them and put one over the other. 

That being said, a dog’s loyalty towards humans is time tested, and horses cannot be trusted the same way dogs can be. We say so because a dog cannot merely be your companion animal but also someone you can trust with your life, home, and friendship. 

Are horses protective of people?

Although horses may not show love to their humans, they reciprocate attachment. But despite all the attachment a horse may have, have you ever wondered if it feels protective or jealous of its owner?

It is a fact that horses are capable of forming a fond relationship with their owners. But it is a question of debate if they feel protective towards them as well. Horses are in-born prey animals and tend to run away from threats, and they will do the same even with a rider on their back.

However, it is tough to say if a horse will run out of its innate instinct or as an act of protecting its rider.

Do horses feel love?

Image Credit: Kissing a horse from Maxpixel

As mentioned before, love is not a part of equine behaviour in a traditional way. They show attachment, but to answer if they feel the love, you first need to define your definition of love. 

If you take “love” as what humans feel for each other, you should exclude horses from it. Equines do not feel love for each other the way humans do. Nonetheless, they are herd animals and show fondness and strong attachment. Their passion for each other can be seen in their acts of nuzzling, licking, etc. 

Overall, the answer to the above question can be very subjective. For some, love can mean a strong bond, and friendship, while for others, it can be attraction and emotional dependency. So, it depends on what one is searching for in the name of love from their horses. 

Do horses bond with humans like dogs?

Bonding with your companion animals is highly essential to build attachment with them. Both dogs and horses bind with their humans, but their ways of getting attached are different.

Both dogs and horses can get affectionate with their owners. But while dogs can truly love and “bond” with their humans, horses feel more relaxed and secure with their owners. However, it is tough to compare these animals, as they are different species and have different ways of expressing their attachments. 

The views between the experts and equine lovers, however, may vary in this regard. This is so because horse lovers often find a strong bond between them and their preferred horse(s). But the researchers are equivocal to ascertain if horses’ attachment bonds go beyond the feeling of security and relaxation with their familiar humans. 

Do horses get attached to humans?

The depth of any connection between an animal and its human depends on different factors. Still, there are a few that have an innate capability to get attached to their owners. 

In this regard, horses can develop emotional attachments with their human owners. This bond can be created through riding, grooming or daily contact. However, the depth of a horse’s attachment to its humans will depend on its treatment.

Some of how you can feel your horse’s attachment with you are 

  • Whining 
  • Nuzzling
  • Licking
  • Following you
  • Obeying your instructions 
  • Getting jealous or possessive if you decide to adopt another horse, etc.

Do horses kiss you?

We express our love through hugs and kisses. But animals’ way of showing their love and affection is different from that of humans. The same can be stated for horses as well.

Horses do not kiss the way humans do. Nonetheless, equines can kiss in different ways. They do it by sharing air with the humans. Your horse may show its attachment by putting its nose on your face and exchanging air with you. Then, it will just breathe on your face and feel your breathing on its own. 

However, there are other ways too that can imitate a kiss, including

  • Licking the face and hands
  • Nuzzling
  • Sniffing

Do horses know they are loved?

Horses are just like other companion animals- they are benevolent, kind, versatile and loving. They can show fondness for the humans they like and express their happiness too.

That being said, some of the horse’s behaviour shows, from time to time, that they feel loved and attached. Some of the equines’ signs that can make you aware of it include-

  • Nickering
  • Coming towards you when you call it
  • Paying attention to you by turning head and ears towards you
  • Following you around
  • Breathing on you
  • Licking you, and so on.

How do you tell if a horse doesn’t like you?

Image Credit: A horse trying to run from Pxfuel

Horses are good at bonding with humans. They are tolerant and loving. But if they are ill-treated, they may show some definite sign of disliking towards their humans.

Horses can show their disliking towards you in more than one way; you just need to recognise their signs. Some of the behaviour through which they display their disliking towards may include:

  • Refusing to be tied
  • Not listening to your instructions
  • Shaking their head
  • Grazing while being ridden
  • Swishing their tail

If you can recognise these signs in your horse, it can be easier to analyse their underlying causes. Also, it is not a general behavioural trend among horses to dislike their humans unless they face something wring from them.

How do you tell if a horse trusts you?

The human-equine relationship built on trust is crucial for both of them. And there can be several ways to understand that your horse trusts you. 

Horses cannot express themselves verbally, but they are a great communicator. They can show their trust towards humans through different actions, like

  • Coming to you
  • Allowing you to touch them
  • Allowing you to ride them 
  • Showing relaxed facial expressions
  • Laying down near you

Do horses forget you?

Forgetting humans or situations are something not really associated with equines. And as we have already stated, we must thank strong memory for that.

In the wild, horses never forget their herd members. They show similar behaviour towards humans. In other words, they do not forget people who are closely associated with them. 

In this regard, some studies have suggested that horses can remember their human friends even after a long period of separation. 

Do horses recognise you?

So, by now, we know that horses have a solid and explicit memory. They can remember both good and bad experiences of their life, but do they recognise their owner as well?

Indeed, horses can recognise their owners. In a study published in 2012, it was stated that horses use auditory and visual cues to identify and distinguish humans. In most cases, it can be seen that equines recognise and respond to their familiar voices by turning around and running towards them. 

How long do horses remember you?

We have already mentioned that horses have an excellent memory. They can remember people as well as the experiences they face. But is their memory long-lasting?

Horses can remember humans for a long time, even after separation. However, its memory will depend on the bond it has or had with its human. Therefore, this remembrance could be associated with humans with whom horses either have a robust positive or negative interaction.

Researches have suggested that horses can continue remembering their owners and close humans in an unaltered form. That being said, apt auditory cues and replay of experiences can help them bring back memories and recognise their people. 

Do horses know their names?

When we get a pet or companion animal, we often name them and call them by that. Some animals like dogs recognise their names, but can it be stated for horses as well?

If you call out your horse and it runs towards you, it surely understands its name is being called out. But horses do not know their names as humans, or even dogs, do. However, with proper training, horses can learn to recognise your voice and the actions associated when you call it by its name. 

Do horses like being talked to?

Horses do not understand human words. What they recognise are the human voice, sounds and cues they get. So, can you talk to them?

Humans often use baby- talks while talking to their pets, including horses. But research shows that horses catch our intention through our voice more than understanding what we are talking about. So, if they feel secure with our ways of speaking to them, they will like it.

Do horses remember bad experiences?

It is interesting to note horses’ memories are based on their experiences. However, their associative memory is so strong that they may outshine even humans in this regard.

So, we can safely say that horses remember bad experiences and people, as they remember good things about them. In addition, some researchers have asserted that equines tend to have photographic memory surrounding adverse circumstances and experiences.

How do you bond with a horse?

Image Credit: Bonding with horses from Pxhere

A horse’s loyalty, love and attachment towards its human depends primarily on the bond between them. So, it is crucial to make this bond solid and positive.

You can create a strong bond with your horse by:

  • Going for a ride or a walk
  • Grooming your horse regularly
  • Training your horse with positive reinforcements
  • Being firm but not harsh in your leadership
  • Spending time outside the “work-time”
  • Treating it
  • Offering it a good shelter, pasture, water and companionship

Conclusion

To wrap it up, we can say that horses can be loyal friends for life. But to win their trust, you must offer your true companionship to them. They have a strong memory and can remember you and your actions for a long time, even for a lifetime. So, your activities can either strengthen your bond or make your horse despise you.

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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