An intuitive connection: Can your horse read your mind?

3 min.

Do you know that feeling where it seems like your horse can read your mind? That it does what you were thinking without having to give it a signal? It may seem like magic, but according to studies, this almost telepathic connection stems more from experience and the ability to sense each other in a harmonious and meaningful collaboration.

YOUR UNCONSCIOUS SIGNALS

The body is a clever thing. Your intentions are automatically transferred to your muscles, which respond without you thinking about it. The rider’s thoughts on, for example, changing pace or direction are automatically sent to the nervous system, which prepares the muscles for what is going to happen.

Because the horse is extremely aware of its surroundings, it picks up even the smallest changes in the rider. It can be a change in the seat, tension in the rider’s muscles, change in rhythm or if the rider’s breathing becomes different. All of which can help to prepare the horse for a certain action on the part of the rider.

Your horse is able to feel signals from your body before you even notice them. Photo: Canva Pro.

You may also like to read: Equine pain face: How to spot if your horse is in pain

AN INTUITIVE CONNECTION

There are certain indications that a rider with a steady seat and calm hands to a greater extent can achieve an intuitive connection to the horse. Simply because the horse finds it easier to pick up the perfectly subtle movements from the rider. And therefore, the horse will also automatically react quicker when the rider actually gives conscious signals.

If, on the other hand, the rider has an uneasy seat, legs and hands, the horse will eventually become “numb” to the rider’s signals. There will simply be too much distraction.

Horses are sensitive animals that pick up everything around them. Photo: Canva Pro.

SENSES AND FEELS EVERYTHING

Horses are so sensitive that they can feel a fly sitting on their fur. They have extreme sensory sensitivity, including receptors in the skin and fur, which can absorb pain and pressure. Therefore, it also goes without saying that they can feel the slightest changes in the rider’s body.

The experienced and attentive horse will immediately notice perfectly fine muscle movements, which take place on the basis of the rider’s intentions. Once the horse knows the rider and his pattern of movement, it will eventually be easy for it to respond to the rider’s unconscious signals. And that is exactly what gives us the impression that the horse can read our mind.

The horse quickly learns routines and the order in which you do things together. Photo: Canva Pro.

LEARNS TO PREDICT ROUTINES

Horses are generally good at learning, remembering, and solving problems. If you often do things in the same order, train the same things, ride the same route in the woods, or saddle up the same way, the horse will learn the routine pretty quickly.

It allows the horse to react faster to a given situation and act accordingly. Something that to us can feel like it has read our mind.

There is however no scientific evidence as to whether the horse can actually read our mind. But it is possible for them to anticipate what is asked of them and act accordingly without us even getting there in our consciousness.

Sources

Zschorlich, V. & Köhling, R. (2013) How thoughts give rise to action-conscious motor intention increases the excitability of target-specific motor circuits. PLOS One 18(12): e83845. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083845

Saslow, C.A. (2002) Understanding the perceptual world of horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 78, 209-224.

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