Can horses smell fear?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by MuckMuck, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. daisykristy

    daisykristy Senior Member+

    Apr 22, 2009
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    My horse can sense my car coming from miles away...

    My horse can hear the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper from 20 yards...

    My horse can tell the difference between bottles of MTG and fly spray and dances accordingly...

    If he senses fear in me, he hides it well. He can instantly sense a new rider though and plods along carefully for them, certainly that is from their own awkward seat.

    Interesting thread!
  2. PiaffePony0412

    PiaffePony0412 Senior Member

    Apr 21, 2005
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    FG, I didn't post in this thread to have a contest with you, however as long as you continue to engage me, I will respond.

    I listed three articles which I found had good info ON CONTENT--- not ones where I was trying to give you sources. The articles I posted weren't the ones I was talking about since they are not funded by the government... thought that was obvious, my mistake.

    I'm well aware the links I listed were about humans and mice- I read them. The first study was in an effort to see if humans have the same abilities to smell the alarm pheromone as animals do- since we have the same olfactory organ, but it is not attached to the brain. Turns out, we do even if we don't recognize it.

    The NPR article was in reference TO the olfactory organ in mice/alarm pheromone recognition in animals and predated the research done (and still being done) by the government (which also has shown that animals CAN detect pheromones of different species through their work with dogs and predator/prey relationships).
    The journalists who find subject matter for NPR and type them up in article form on the internet might not hold graduate degrees, (or they might just not list them), but when their interview subjects hold biologist jobs at Universities and work for NOAA, I think it's still credible, but maybe that is just me?

    Sorry, I posted such things for people who were interested in the content, not interested in a 'who has a PhD' war. :no: "Diehl's article" (which wasn't actually written by her) from 2005 isn't a study, it's an opinion piece where no research or study sources were listed.

    And yes, in the event that I get a response, I will gladly share the info!

    You make a good point Parkie- and I don't know the different levels of adrenaline released for different amounts of 'tension' vs actual 'fear'. Not to mention, such responses are definitely lowered in domestic animals and I don't know how that corresponds to humans.

    Personally, regardless of what PhD's have researched, (there are quite a few things which have been proven WITH modern science despite still being rejected by the scientific community) I believe that the actual fear 'energy' is what they pick up on. Outside of all of the regular senses, I believe every living being is able to sense energy of all different kinds. I have 'sensed' things before seeing/smelling/hearing them, and I know my horses have too.

    My favorite personal example is from a few years ago when I was riding Chase on a trail. I was on my way back to the barn as it was about to storm- suddenly, he stopped and got VERY tense, like he was spooking at something. His head was up and rigid, but his ears weren't up, so I wasn't sure what he was looking at. Not even 3 seconds later a lightning bolt struck a tree less than 100 ft from me and blasted it all over the place, it was very loud and scared the carp out of me and him! After that we go to the barn in record time and I knew that my horse knows what is going on way better than I do! hahaha

  3. Fox Glove

    Fox Glove Senior Member+

    Dec 9, 2005
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    Than your horse is a gem, and a keeper.

    PP you choose to take the University article to task, not me. You choose to dismiss Dielhs studies, and make remarks about her being out of date, when it was YOUR links that were.

    You also stated what you posted, had been written by PhD's, it was not, yet you stated that it was.

    You said " Um. These people have PhD's too... is one PhD worth more than another? " than tried to make it a non issue.

    You posted a letter of dissertation, than re posted it in the second link, revised , it was the SAME paper. It was not a scientific study.

    If you are going to answer me ,at least have your ducks in a row, and your fact straight.

    You provide no soild proof whatsoever what you are saying is true, yet keep stating it as fact. Sorry that is not enough to make it so.

    Why not post the University studies you were refering to, I am not trying to split hairs, just wondering why you are trying so hard to make your point more valid than it is. You stated there was all of this " ample research " but then took it off track under the guise of " three articles which I found had good info ON CONTENT" yet none of them come close to stating that horses smell fear.

    For the record, I do belive they sense it, and fear does have a smell, but it is not the only resource horses have to read a person.
    daisykristy likes this.
  4. Fox Glove

    Fox Glove Senior Member+

    Dec 9, 2005
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    *I underlined them for you so you will be sure to see them this time, as I have already listed her resources, from the bottom of the article before.*

    I can not believe you even made this statement, can you not read for comprehension?

    The article was published in Penn States Research , The online magazine of Scholarship and Creativity.

    You know, the publish or perish thing. This is a scholarly article.

    Most Professors FTR do not " write" their own papers, papers are written about their studies and teachings.

    This is what she is teaching and studying, she is an equine scientist .

    This article written about her studies is published in a University Publication, that other academics use as a reference.

    Her research and study sources were listed at the bottom of the article, I will list them again for you.

    *Additional background information was provided by: Thomas Pritchard, Ph.D., associate professor of neural and behavioral sciences at Penn State University,; and Mimi Halpern, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology at Downstate Medical Center for The State University of New York, *

    Most scholarly articles list these sources when used, this shows that not only Nancy Deihl did research herself, that these other PhD's have a body of work relating to the subject matter and she used their studies to support hers.

    I don't have any idea why you keep trying to make something that is not so, so, it is not working.
  5. alaskahorse

    alaskahorse Senior Member+

    Jul 18, 2008
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    Horses not only have the ability to pickup on emotions from people they also reflect them.
    This is something that most all people who have worked around horses have noticed and learned, hence the saying they can smell fear, feel fear ect.
    I attended a certification course in Ohio in 2002 that used horses to assist with psychotherapy in treating people. It really opened my eyes even more to horses inheriant ability to feel, and react on peoples emotions.
    One of our instructors was a psychotherapist. We used many excersices, involving people and horses. Most of the time people were onthe ground, as this was not a horsemanship class .
    One of the excersices that impressed me the most was one where we had a volunteer mount on a horse bareback, not a horseperson at all, and another person (me) lunge the horse at a walk. It was called a lie detector test.
    The objective was to tell if the person was lying by watching the horse while the person was answering questions that I asked of them. My instructions were to watch the horse only not the rider. So I asked the person to tell me an story of an experience that they had had. To be truthful in all of the telling with the exception of one part of it. It didn't have to be a whopper of a lie, just a twisting of events so it was an untruth.
    She proceeded to relate to me a story of when she was riding in a car. She described the day, the company she was in. As she was talking I was observing the horse at a walk on the lunge line. He was walking, occasionally switching his tail, head relaxed, and a slow even gait. She continued talking. At one point I noticed his head elevate just a bit, his stride sort of shortened, he did not stop and his ears flipped forward, then they twitched back into a relaxed position. As his head elevated a bit he sort of chewed, just for a stride then he continued, never losing stride, back into his former position. When she finished up her story I was to tell her what part of the story was a lie. I was able to pinpoint the part of her story that was a lie. She had said that while she was in the car with her friends, they had gotten stopped by a traffic cop for a busted tail light. What they had actually gotten stopped for was speeding 40 mph in a 35mph zone. It was during the time that she was telling about being stopped by the cop that the horse changed his demeanor. I didn't not know what the lie was but I could tell what part of the story was not true. When I asked her if her lie involved the cop she said yes and told me which part.
    It truely amazed me that the horse could be a living lie detector. What a sensitivity.
    We did many other excersices and all of them showed me just how truely sensitive these animals are.
    So yes..they do know fear as well as all of our emotions..and I am truely blessed to be able to interact with these wonderful critters everyday..
    Like the old saying
    The best thing for a person on the the outside of a horse. :)
    daisykristy likes this.
  6. Bruce Wiley

    Bruce Wiley Senior Member+

    Jul 5, 2005
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    Hello MuckMuck.

    An inexperience indivdual may react to a horse just turning it head, looking directly in their direction.
    The human react- not wanting to do nothing with the animal, where it was the person emotion state along with their body language.
    Horses will sometimes put out an mild threat to see how we will react to their guestures, which is seeing and testing our position on where we stand with them. They want to know, whether we're a leader type that will direct and correct.

    Horses interpret our actions and relate certain things which translate and may be the triggers which put them on alert or at ease about our intentions.
    They are the experts observers of guestures, body language communications, where I even sometimes question and suspect, if theres an mental abiltiy they have.

    But we all have heard that same old saying.
  7. John

    John Senior Member+

    Mar 5, 2004
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    When I first started flying I flew for a company that flew loggers into bush strips. They had about a dozen planes and fifteen pilots. One of the pilots had a golden lab dog. He would put the dog in the back of his car with a window open and then climb into the plane that he was using for his trip which could be any one of the company machines. The dog would stay in the car until he heard the plane comming back in that his owner was flying and then he would hop out and stand by the fence. He never made a mistake and he could hear the plane before the owner had to call on the radio or anyone else could hear a thing. We had a lot of fun with it.
  8. MuckMuck

    MuckMuck Senior Member

    Dec 22, 2008
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    Well we certainly has some lively ideas on the subject!

    I am kind of scared and I can't even smell a thing tonight with this hay fever...Ha!

    Great feed back.
  9. Fadjurneeka

    Fadjurneeka Senior Member

    Jun 14, 2008
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    Can they smell it? I'm not so sure. Can they sense it? Oh yes. Every single time that I've seen a person afraid of a horse and express outward signs to prove it, the horse has walked all over them or also become afraid of the handler or rider due to the lack of confidence that therefore resulted in the loss of an established leader. We do not give horses enough credit, for they are far more intelligent than most believe. They know their people better than the person knows them self in some instances it seems. ;)

    My horses know I am coming outside before they can even see me. They sure know the sound of the car for they both line up and stand long before we even pull up to visit them.

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