Horses, Humans, and Trust

Do horses experience trust the same way humans do? A certified equine behaviorist shares her thoughts.

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Horses, Humans, and Trust
Harmonious communication and physical coordination between horse and humans relies on mutual trust and cooperation. | Photo: Thinkstock

Q: What does it mean to earn a horse’s “trust,” and is trust the same for horses as it is for humans?

—Via e-mail

A: Trust is essential to forming and maintaining social attachments, and when people are in trusting relationships, they are healthier, happier, and more productive.1 Cooperative horse-human partnerships also seem to be based on trust, and various games have been promoted for building trust in horses

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Written by:

Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, IAABC-Certified Horse Behavior Consultant, is a research professor at the University of Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington, and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington. She holds a doctorate in animal behavior and has taught courses in animal learning and behavior for more than 20 years. Her research looks at temperament, stress, and burn-out as they relate to the selection, retention, and welfare of therapy horses. She also provides private behavior consultations and training services in the Seattle area.

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