Understanding Your Horse's Emotions

Understanding Your Horse's Emotions

by Larry Bensusan


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What does a horse think, what does it see, hear, smell, and feel, and how do emotions affect the horse's existence? This book helps the reader take the first step on a journey of discovery. If we can understand the way horses see the world—in every sense of the word—we can unlock the key to their emotions and understand what prompts them to do certain things. By highlighting many characteristics of the horse that are often overlooked by owners and riders— for instance, that horses first see negativity using their left eye; or that they first smell objects using their right nostril— the book thus reveals many aspects of the horse that will be unknown to many and explains why and how this can help us with our training. It also explores how our own emotions and actions can affect the horse. The information is based on scientific research but presented in an easy-to-read format, and throughout the text there are practical tips for the rider and anecdotes of the author's experiences of working with both riders and horses.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780851319940
Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Publication date: 01/01/2013
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Larry Bensusan is a complementary health practitioner with both human and equine clients. He specializes in Shiatsu massage, nutrition, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and thought-field therapy. Over the past fifteen years, he has given over 11,000 treatments to horses, successfully helping to alleviate their many different problems. Bensusan lives in Suffolk, but travels the country treating equine and human clients and giving seminars and talks.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 10

1 Inside the Mind of Your Horse 11

The natural horse 13

2 The Difference Between the Emotions of a Horse and a Human 30

Non-associative learning 31

Associative learning 34

3 Understanding the Character Behind the Emotions 50

The right-side dominant horse 57

The left-side dominant horse 59

Supporting the right-sided brain horse

Supporting the left-sided brain horse

Common negative behaviour 68

4 Fight or Flight: the Survival Factor 70

Equine stress and tension 73

Pain and discomfort


Physiological signs of stress

Behavioural manifestations of stress

5 Looking at the World as the Horse Sees it 93

Sight 93

Sight and emotion

Types of vision

Distinguishing colour

Light intensity

Visual laterality


Body language 107

A 'psychic' ability? 107

6 Smell: the Horse's Sixth Sense? 112

There's more to the sense of smell than meets the eye! 112

Flehmen 118

The vomeronasal organ

Sensing emotions through scent 124

Nerves and tension

The influence of odours

You can't lie to your horse

7 What Horses Can Hear and How Sounds Affect Their Emotions 130

Exceptional hearing 131

Hearing and nervousness 136

Working with your horse's nervousness

Hearing distraction at shows

The human voice 139

The calming influence of the human voice

Vocal commands versus body language

Negative and positive sound reinforcement 142

Negative sound-conditioned behaviour

Positive sound-conditioned behaviour

Music can have a negative affect

Music therapy

The ears reflect emotions 146

Hearing impairment 148

Handling the hearing-impaired horse

Positive thinking - hearing differently 149

8 How Our Own Emotions Affect Our Horses 151

Maslow's hierarchy of needs 152

Physiological needs

Safety needs

Social needs

Esteem needs


How horses help and teach humans 155

Emotional conflict

Levels of communication


An important lesson

Our major failings

Conclusion 170

Bibliography 172

Index 182

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