Study: Horses Know Your Intentions

Researchers observed horses in three scenarios with unfamiliar humans armed with carrots. They found the horses reacted differently based on the humans’ intentions.

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Study: Horses Know Your Intentions
A French study found horses could tell if a person intended to feed or not feed them a carrot. | Photo: iStock
And just what, exactly, are your intentions with those carrot slices?

If you’re planning to give them to your horse, he knows. And if you’re not planning to, he also knows. He even knows when you’re planning to give him the carrots but, because of your own lack of grace or cleverness, you can’t seem to get them to him.

It’s evidence that, whether it involves carrots or something else, horses understand our goals—even when we fail to reach them, according to a study by French behavior scientists.

“When you’re with your horse, don’t lie to yourself, and don’t lie to him, because he knows what you’re planning to do,” said Léa Lansade, PhD, of the French Horse and Riding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Research’s behavior science department, in Tours, France

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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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