It’s not hard for horse people to believe, but science proves it: horses can read our expressions, body language, and sense changes in our moods.

Their level of perception of human emotion is quite sophisticated, sensing changes in facial expression, stiffness in the body, and tiny shifts in tone of voice.

From a summary of the study published by The Atlantic: “The horses’ heart rates also rose more quickly when they were presented with the angry face. Being able to tell a smiling handler from an angry one is a useful skill for a domestic horse—being approached by a frown rarely results in happy consequences.

This finding is amazing but also a responsibility. Remember – your horse knows when you show up to the barn angry at your husband/wife/significant other, or when you’re on edge because of a stressful day at work. They know you feel this way, but they don’t know why. It’s a good reminder to leave all that baggage at the barn door.

Consider this: your boss storms into your office, and you can tell he’s furious. He stomps around, throws a stack of paperwork on your desk, and barks at you to get to work. You haven’t done anything wrong and have no idea why he’s upset, just that you’re on the receiving end of it. Even though he’s angry about something that happened at home, you’re unfairly paying the price of it.

This is the exact position your horse is in when you show up to the barn and angrily throw a saddle over his back, drag him out to the ring and kick him around for half an hour.
We’re all human, but this study is a great reminder for us to check the emotions at the door, take a deep breath, and to treat horse like you’d want your boss to treat you.