If you’ve ever considered your horse to be your “better half,” you’re not alone. Norwegian and American researchers recently found that riders and horses can enter into a unique state of interspecies “co-being” with one other.

Co-being refers to a state of relationship in which each partner evolves to “fit” better with each other, both physically and mentally.

“As riders get to know their horses, they attune to them—they learn both mental and somatic (physical) ways of acting versus their partner,” said Anita Maurstad, PhD, professor and researcher in the Department of Cultural Sciences in the Tromsø University Museum at the University of Tromsø in Norway. “Horses, too, attune to their humans; thus, co-being is a good analytical concept for speaking about these aspects of the relationship.”

This is all consistent with what Maurstad calls “nature-culture”—the concept that nature and culture, for some individuals (such as humans and domesticated horses), cannot be viewed individually but as one unique, combined notion. Riders and their mounts exist in a state of co-being within the nature-culture of the equestrian world, Maurstad said.

The co-being theory goes beyond the recently described “mirror” theory that horses are “reflections” of their riders, Maurstad said. In co-being, riders “get to know their horses as personalities through ongoing processes of deep engagement,” she said. “They see hors