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An Intuitive Connection: Can Your Horse Read Your Thoughts?

Do you also sometimes wonder if your horse can read your thoughts? Photo: Canva Pro.

Have you ever felt as though your horse can read your mind? That it performs actions you're merely thinking of without any visible cues from you? While it may seem like magic, research suggests that this almost telepathic connection stems more from shared experiences and the ability to sense each other in a harmonious and meaningful partnership.


The body is ingeniously designed. Your intentions are automatically transmitted to your muscles, which react without conscious thought. A rider's thoughts about changing pace or direction are automatically sent to the nervous system, which then prepares the muscles for what's about to happen.

Since a horse is highly aware of its surroundings, it picks up even the slightest changes in the rider. This could be a shift in the seat, tension in the rider's muscles, a change in rhythm, or even if the rider's breathing alters. All these nuances can prepare the horse for a specific action from the rider’s side.


There is evidence to suggest that a rider with a calm seat and steady hands can achieve a more intuitive connection with their horse. This is simply because the horse can more easily pick up on the rider's subtle movement cues. Thus, the horse will also automatically respond quicker when the rider does give conscious signals.

Conversely, if the rider is restless with their seat, legs, and hands, over time, the horse will become "deaf" to the rider’s signals. There will simply be too much noise.

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


Horses are so sensitive that they can feel a fly sitting on their fur. They possess extreme sensory capabilities, including receptors in the skin and fur that can detect pain and pressure. It is, therefore, no surprise that they can sense the slightest changes in the rider's body.

An experienced and attentive horse will immediately feel fine muscle movements based on the rider's intentions. Once the horse knows the rider and their patterns, it will become easy over time for it to respond to the rider's unconscious signals. This is precisely what gives us the impression that the horse can read our thoughts.

The horse quickly learns routines and the order of activities you do together. Photo: Canva Pro.


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

This enables the horse to respond faster to a given situation and act accordingly. For us, it might feel as though the horse has read our thoughts.

While there is no scientific evidence that horses can actually read our minds, they are indeed capable of anticipating what they need to do and act on it even before we are consciously aware of it.


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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