Fairfield County Edition

Heart Connection between Humans and Horses

Italian researchers are hot on the trail to understand the connection so many riders and horse owners claim to feel with their animals. Through high-tech research involving wearable monitoring systems and advanced algorithms, they’ve determined that horses and humans tend to align their physiological responses to emotional stimulation.

In Italy, University of Pisa’s Department of Veterinary Sciences, E. Piaggio Bioengineering and Robotics Research Center, and the Department of Information Engineering collaborated to investigate the heart connections between humans and horses. Nearly one dozen human participants wore cardiac monitoring systems as they individually interacted with one mare in three different ways: sitting in a neighboring stall to the horse, sitting in a stall so the horse could enter and interact, and brushing the mare. 

The heart rate and heart rate variability of both the horse and the human was recorded for each interaction. The preliminary study uncovered interesting results. In the second part where the horse had more control and choice over the interaction, the two aligned their heart rate variability. However, when the human controlled the contact with the mare with brushing, there was more heart rate variability between the two.

Although the research is in its early stages, it is notable to see that the heart connection is heightened when the horse can choose the timing and type of contact. If the trend is confirmed, it would indicate that the nervous systems of both can be positively influenced by the other.

For more information about equine-facilitated experiences in our area, visit PossibilitiesFarm.com or call 203-210-7484. Location: Possibilities Farm, Wilton. See listing, page 37.

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