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Are Horses Emotional Animals

author
Maria Johnson
• Sunday, 04 October, 2020
• 14 min read

Emotional support animals have been gaining notoriety in recent years, with many negative stories hogging up the news. Emotional support animals are a legitimate and helpful aid for those suffering from issues with mental health, without resorting to harsh drugs that can be addictive and harmful in the long term.

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Contents

The ADA establishes four rules that must be followed to determine where a miniature horse can enter a facility: Training means that miniature horses can remain calm in even the most stressful of situations, which is an invaluable quality in an emotional support animal.

All service animals must be trained to a high level, but they should also possess very good behavior and ability to be under excellent control before they are considered. Training a miniature horse takes a lot of extensive time and special care.

Many trainers have agreed it can be more intense than training a service dog because horses are often easily spooked. Because of this, a lot of hours are needed to help train horses and adapt them to the house, tasks, and environment for the owner to be comfortable.

Being in the barn grooming, feeding, and otherwise caring for our horses reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves overall health. Yet, it is the companionship with our equine partners that is the foundation of our growth in relationship to these animals.

According to PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, there are many types of “equine-assisted activities.” In its broadest sense, any interaction between a person and a horse is an equine-assisted activity. It is a treatment which uses horses to reach rehabilitative goals that are bounded by a medical professional’s scope of practice.

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Equine-Assisted Therapy is not an activity run by local horse clubs, church groups, or trainers. Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, which is used by addiction treatment facilities, veterans’ groups, and trauma centers, is always overseen by a licensed mental health professional.

Addicts, the population I work with, often exclaim, “They’re so big!” Indeed, as all horse-people know, trying to get a thousand-pound animal to do what you want is no easy task. Because of these qualities, horses can be used to help people heal from a variety of psychological issues.

Addicts and other trauma survivors have to learn how to identify their emotions in order to work through them. Perhaps a plastic bag blows into the arena during a session, startling the horses.

A client who has experienced child or domestic abuse might break down in tears upon seeing the horses frightened. Any of these kinds of reactions is rich material for talk therapy and can be worked through immediately or in future sessions.

We earn wages to buy feed and tack and maintain horse properties. Whether it is raising children or going to an office, factory, or running a business, we get up early and show up on time.

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We listen to our friends, show up for our families, and provide service to our communities. Working hard and showing up in a healthy way are skills that can be learned by engaging with horses.

One common treatment technique for those who were abused as children is to put the (now adult) individual in with a large horse and allow them to interact. Very often, the person will break down in tears and say something like, “I’ve never been treated this kindly by anything so big.” This is an experience the client can then take into the human world.

Equine-Assisted Therapy, particularly Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, can have positive results for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, or a number of other psychological issues. It can help individuals develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, and learn how to trust.

The professionalism of those engaged with equine therapies is what makes them both effective and safe. I’ve always thought that horses are simple animals, unable to reason, and have no conscious perception of ‘self.’ I thought that surely such a simple creature cannot possibly process the complex information involved with emotions.

My quest for answers led me to a wonderful book, Animals in Translation,” by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Temple Gran din (with Catherine Johnson). Dr. Gran din’s work primarily revolves around the cattle slaughter industry; she has done a lot for the humane treatment of these animals.

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In this book Dr. Gran din makes a very interesting case for animals having emotions. Simple emotions are fear, rage, discovery, confusion, gain, loss, happiness and depression.

Complex emotions are shame, guilt, embarrassment, greed, respect, contempt. She makes reference to the fact that animals don’t have the ability to have mixed emotions.

This alone doesn’t make the horse intelligent or unintelligent, just unique to its species. This brings me back to my stance on what I believe are particularly harmful training methods like round-penning and desensitizing.

Dr. Gran din says that she believes that “instilling fear in an animal is far worse than pain.” However, when done improperly it can have far-reaching adverse effects on the horse’s psyche and emotional state.

I often wonder if natural horsemanship is such a great thing, since there is still such an over-abundance of horses with behavioral problems. I literally get hundreds of emails every month from owners with horse problems.

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I think the obvious reason lies in the misunderstanding of the horse’s psychological makeup. I have spent years studying how horses learn, how they interact with humans, and why so many common misbehavior are so prevalent.

This miscommunication can lead to many of the horse’s emotions we are talking about that so often then progress to behavioral problems. Your horse is a living, feeling creature that when pressed into a stressful environment will do what it thinks is best for itself and not for you.

As I think back to time spent with my mentor Dr. Andrew McLean (who developed and manages the Australian Equine Behavior Center and holds a PhD in horse training psychology), I am reminded of our conversation about the emotional horse. We are quick to blame the horse for his mistakes and never fully realize that the problem is truly our fault.

Perhaps the most famous racehorse in history was Man O’ War, undisputed king of the turf during the gambling-happy roaring 1920s. He was a large and imposing horse, and even when he was alive he was a tourist attraction, drawing visitors from across the country to pay homage at his farm.

Man O’ War lived nobly and developed a unique relationship with his groom of many, many years. Habit, the horse’s constant companion, died suddenly in October 1947.

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Man O’ War was so grief-stricken that he pined away, wouldn’t eat, and was obviously crestfallen as he hung his head in the stall, knowing that his friend would not return. Emotions are energy in motion and are a result of your or the horse’s state, psychology, thoughts, and feelings.

Emotions have the power to create or destroy, and we have the option to choose which. There are other factors to consider that can influence your horse’s emotions and patterns.

It receives input and signals from the entire body and senses. Often times even if a pain or stress trigger is removed, the emotional response or pattern can stay, having a negative impact on the horse’s health, wellness, and behavior.

Combine these efforts with the use of essential oils and you can help cleanse and reprogram negative emotional and behavioral patterns with positive ones that will support the horse’s physical, mental, and emotional state. Therapeutic grade essential oils can break the blood-brain barrier and access the limbic system.

Some emotional concerns stem from health problems, or the horse simply does not feel good! In my content, I share the story of supporting my mare through health concerns, naturally, after traditional methods had failed and euthanasia became the only recommendation veterinarians had for her.

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Please share via your favorite social media page to help us on our mission to promote horse health and wellness. With news that Southwest is allowing mini horses on flights, here's what to know about these petite equine wonders.

Southwest Airlines does not accept unusual or exotic species of animals. Horses are smart and seriously intuitive, but I didn't know they could take the place of dogs in, among other tasks, guiding the blind.

They note that In the wild, horses show a natural guide instinct. They also point out the following reasons why miniature horses make a great match for the job.

Training can cost up to $60,000, according to the Guide Dog Users national advocacy group, which could prove prohibitive. Those who use miniature horses do not seem to have this problem since the animal is more easily recognizable as a service one.

Guide horses can be housebroken, they do not get fleas and only shed two times per year. For more on why miniature horses are superstar service animals, watch this video of the remarkable Panda and how she helps her human.

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Oh, and in case you're wondering where a mini horse sits on a plane? Pigs, turkeys, monkeys and ducks have all made their way into the skies to accompany their human companions.

But Flirty the mini service horse successfully joined her owner, Area Hensley, on an American Airlines flight departing Chicago’s O’Hare international airport last week. The horse caught the attention of fellow travelers who were surprised to see hooves queuing up to check in among the usual feet and suitcase wheels.

“There was a small horse in line at the airport today and I’m curious about it,” Twitter user Alberta Babbage said alongside a picture of Flirty with Hensley at the AA check-in desk. Hensley suffers from a variety of ailments including: depression, severe anxiety, panic disorder and PTSD.

“We recognize the important role trained service dogs, cats and miniature horses can play in the lives of those with disabilities.” Hensley said in a tweet that, while her flight with Flirty went well, she will try to conduct their travels by car because it is easier on her horse and other passengers.

“We can hide our irritation from other people by masking our emotions, because humans are not good at reading energy fields,” says Margret Coates. “We need to look deeper at our inner state because the horse reacts to the truth,” says Margret.

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We cannot put horses into human boxes, analyzing these animals as types from our viewpoint. Horses are full of emotional instinct, and the nearest we ever get to associating with a wild animal.

This is of paramount importance as your breathing can influence the purity, strength and speed of your pace. Breathing is also important to Jenny Role, a classical trainer and author of the upcoming book, Ride from the Heart (www.spanishdressagehorses.co.uk).

She has based her training methods on the horse’s sensitivity to our breathing. In her book, she shows how we can use lateral breathing exercises to help master our emotions and lead to a feeling of calmness.

We have to make a conscious effort, especially in the beginning, to be very self-aware and vigilant about where our emotions are when training horses. We need to be emotionally consistent to develop a strong, solid relationship.

For the best ride, Jenny also advises warming up to determine how your horse is feeling that day. “Loose work is very good before riding as it not only helps prepare the horse for ridden work, but it’s another way for the trainer to find out where her mood is at, rather than getting straight on without a thought,” says Jenny.

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As you can see, emotions are the driving force behind everything we do, and play a huge part in how we and our horses learn. Our dictionary editors touched over 15,000 entries in a sweeping effort to reflect the many ways' language is evolving.

Thirty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we think it’s more vital than ever to take the time to explain what makes each of these animals unique and what sets them apart. In the US, service animals are legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is enforced by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The ADA also specifically requires the work that the animal is trained to do to be directly related to the person’s disability. The definition (and the law) makes it clear that a service animal is not a pet and has been rigorously trained to perform a specific job.

Unlike service animals, SAS do not have special training requirements and can be owned even by persons without disabilities, and so the ADA does not grant them legal protection. However, ESA scan be taken on airlines that normally do not allow pets thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, which is enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

When in doubt, it is best to consult the DOT’s website or the regulations of the specific airline when deciding if and how to bring an ESA on an airplane. Outside air travel and being an exclusion to no-pet housing codes, emotional support animals have no more legal rights than an average pet.

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Non-airline, non-housing companies are under no legal obligation to allow an emotional support animal in their store, restaurant, or other place of business. While instances of people attempting to take advantage of the system to bring unusual animals (or their pet) on an airplane often make the news, most emotional support animals are simply dogs or cats that provide the emotional comfort needed by their owners.

A therapy animal is “an animal trained to play a role in a physical or emotional treatment plan, as a horse helping a rider develop muscle tone or a dog providing cognitive engagement for nursing home residents.” Therapy animals are typically trained and owned by private owners or companies, who take them to hospitals or medical providers.

These animals are trained to interact with and comfort people who have been through traumatic events such as a war or natural disasters. For example, crisis response animals have been invited to provide comfort at disaster scenes or shelters that house war survivors.

Just as often, crisis response animals are also used to assist first responders and medical personnel who are under intense stress during emergencies. While assistance animals do have some federal legal protection, it is entirely related to housing restrictions and renter’s agreements.

More detailed information about the legal rights of assistance animals can be found on HUD’s website. These animals must perform a task or serve a purpose that a landlord would reasonably accept as being an assistance the needs of a person with a disability.

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For example, a cat that reduces the frequency of a person’s stress-induced pain or a bird that alerts an owner with hearing impairments of visitors would be protected under federal law. Horses are generally relaxed about hanging out with their familiar human friends, fresh research has shown, but show more caution with unfamiliar handlers.

Chiara Scope and her fellow researchers said studies have shown that horses can discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar humans using both visual and vocal cues. “This ability suggests that the level of familiarity can affect horses tendency to engage again with the same human, also allowing these animals to recognize their caretakers long after the last encounter,” the study team wrote in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

“ Horses implement a process of categorization to classify humans with whom they interact as positive, negative, or neutral stimuli by evaluating the kind of approach and the nature of the contact. The study team said that although the human-horse relationship has been mainly investigated through behavioral analysis, physiological indicators are needed for a more objective assessment of the emotional responses.

The protocol involved baseline heart measurements being taken before the individual, either familiar or unfamiliar, entered their stall and stood near the door for five minutes. Horses appeared more relaxed while physically interacting with familiar handlers when compared with the same task performed by someone unfamiliar, researchers found.

“Rather, we focused on how long-term relationships with humans may affect horses emotional state in daily management activities, which generally involve some sort of contact.” The study team comprised Scope and Laura Contalbrigo, with the Italian National Reference Center for Animal Assisted Interventions; Alberto GREC, Elisabeth Rating, Enzo Pasquale Sci lingo and Paolo Bareilly, affiliated with the University of Pisa; and Antonio Canada, affiliated with the University of Florence.

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(Source: thehorse.com)

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Sources
1 limousin.co.uk - https://limousin.co.uk/2013/02/hot-off-the-press-limousin-2013-stud-book/
2 limousin.co.uk - https://limousin.co.uk/2014/03/2014-stud-book-factfinder/
3 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limousine_(cattle)