Interaction with a horse can be uncomfortably intimate for a species that likes to filter its real feelings through evasive spoken words. Studies have shown that horses respond to the changes in their human handlers’ heart rates, and react differently to experienced and inexperienced riders. Anecdotally, I’ve heard of horses knowing their owner was pregnant before the owner herself knew, or who detected incoming migraines, or distinguished between a disabled rider (who was carried carefully) and an able-bodied child (who got buckings and boltings and exuberance from the pony).
For the New York Times Online. (29th October 2014)