Horses Can Differentiate Dominant, Submissive Human Postures

At this stage researchers can’t say whether one position is better or worse, however. That’s especially true when it comes to training, they said.
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Horse behavior
Proops said it's possible that horses see submissive individuals are less threatening and, thus, less risky to approach than a dominant individual. | Photo: iStock

Equitation scientists believe humans should not train horses through dominance. And recent study results suggest horses can—and do—distinguish between dominant and submissive postures in humans.

Guess which one they prefer?

Submissive postures, hands down, said Leanne Proops, PhD, who conducted a study on the topic with colleagues from the University of Sussex Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research group and the University of Portsmouth, both in the U.K

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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