Horses are known to be gentle creatures, possessing an undeniable charm. Although equable, it is also typical for horses to show their power if fleeing for survival is not possible.
We have seen lots of horse owners giving great dedication to taking care of their horses and always ready to fight for them. However, the big question is whether these mystique animals will also defend their owners in return or not.
Are Horses Protective?
Horses are not protective by nature as they are prey animals, commonly adapting a flight response for survival.
A horse will usually protect its life by running away from dangers such as hunting predators. Running is the first option for horses because they know that they have a tiny chance to win a battle with a pack of wolves.
By being protective, we commonly expect that animals will have a bloody, head-to-head fight to win for their lives.
This assumes that horses are not protective since they will choose to escape rather than defend themselves or their homes.
This can make you wonder if your horse will leave you helplessly or protect you if you confront a dangerous situation together.
Can Horses Be Protective?
Horses can be protective if they are caught in situations requiring them to use their physical abilities.
You can view the fleeing strategy from a different perspective. By running away, we can also appreciate the desires of horses to defend their lives at all costs.
Aside from showing off their strengths, horses are protective of their babies and herds with their ways.
A mother horse will not leave its foal if they are both confined in a place where predators are ready to attack them. Since foals are still developing physically and mentally, their mother horses are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect their babies.
If surrounded by hunters or have nowhere else to go, horses understand that they need to use their power.
Biting is one tactic of horses to defend themselves. Aside from protection, horses also bite if they have health concerns, when they are playing or if they want to proclaim their supremacy over others.
Horses also protect by themselves through striking and kicking; likewise, through rearing up and backing.
Do Horses Care About Their Owners?
Horses care about their owners if they are getting sufficient love, attention, and warmth. A horse that cares is obedient, will lean on, nuzzle, and certainly, follow its owner.
Your horse will remember the way you treat it, good or bad, even after years of separation.
According to a study, horses have excellent memories facilitating them to recall humans they have tagged as friends even after ten years.
Horses are very affectionate animals. They show their fondness to their owners through their actions which are similar to how they demonstrate love to other horses.
Since they are not capable of talking, your horses can show their liking towards you by leaning on you gently. If they want cuddles, they will bring their nose closer to you, waiting for some rubs.
Body contact is a meaningful way for horses to tell you they adore you.
Your horse will also be submissive and respectful to you to show it cares.
Horses are very compassionate creatures that love to please their special ones. If your horse cares for you, it will do everything to achieve your expectations, giving its best always.
Signs of a Protective Horse
Your horse is being protective if its body language becomes unusually alert; commonly notice on its ears, head, eyes, legs, feet, and tail.
By being protective, your horse will most likely feel anger as it wants to secure the safety of its herd, you as its owner, and itself.
A horse that senses danger will usually pin its ears back, ready to kick or bite anytime. Pinning its ears forward means it is observant and alert of whatever is in front of it.
Your horse will elevate its head if it wants to look intently on something far from it, assessing if it needs to inspect, disregard or flee.
The muscles around the eyes of your horse will tighten; likewise, the whites on their eyes might show if it is angry and up for defense.
A protective horse will also stomp, kick and strike its legs and feet if it feels danger.
As for the tail, your protective horse will swish its tail rapidly if it is aggravated or angry.
Are Horses Loyal To Their Owners?
Horses can be loyal to their owners if a strong relationship and trust will be developed. They also perceive their owners as part of the herd where loyalty is significant for survival.
Horses are known to have manageable temperaments and great intelligence.
Despite the hardships of everyday work or training, your horse will still choose to stay with you and follow you. They appreciate the time and affection you give to them.
According to a study, horses are one of the animals that can offer you a loyal and long-term affiliation.
The bond that you and your horse will create is likely a broadening of its relationship with its relatives in the herd. It sees you as a family and welcomes you as long as it senses no threat from your presence.
If you spend more quality time with your horse, you can develop a stronger relationship and gain its trust.
It could be through regular riding, grooming, and interaction in a kind manner.
By rewarding your horse every time it follows your command, you are strengthening its sense of loyalty to you as its owner.
However, there is research discovering that horses do not form a deep attachment with their owners. It concludes that horses perceived humans as their safe refuge regardless of identity.
The result of the research showed that horses got tensed and stressed when their owners left them. But, they became calmer when humans accompanied them, even if they are not their owners.
Are Horses More Loyal Than Dogs?
Horses are loyal, but they cannot outdo the kind of devotion dogs give to their owners.
The social relationship is highly significant for horses which means that the more your horse gets attached to you, the greater the possibility it will show more loyalty.
However, the loyalty that dogs develop for their owners is incomparable.
Everyone can attest that dogs are willing to risk their lives to protect their owners without blinking an eye. Despite being abused, a dog will still wiggle its tail and barks loudly to welcome its human. Still, it would growl at strangers to protect its home.
Dogs are predators, making them very protective. They are part of packs that depend on each other for survival.
The common interests of humans and dogs make the latter more loyal to horses. Humans and dogs can communicate better that helps in building a stronger connection.
How to Get Your Horses to Protect You?
Your horse will protect you if it knows you cannot defend yourself; given that it is also feeling your love and care regularly.
Intelligent horses instinctively know if their owners need protection. Just like in their herd, strong horses are the ones protecting the weaker and smaller ones.
However, unlike other animals such as dogs, you cannot train your horse to protect you.
Horses are prey animals, which are simply not created to fight other animals. Rather than fighting aggressively, horses will always pick the flight strategy to ensure their safety.
Horses will surely use their strength and power to defend themselves and their owners if needed.
Still, they are not genetically born with that combat attitude that shall only make them refuse the protection training.
A Horse Protecting Its Owner Stories
Although not born to fight hostilely with other animals, horses are capable of protecting their owners if they want to. There have been a couple of stories about horses defending their humans against deadly predators like coyotes and snakes.
Horses Save Owner from Coyotes
One morning, Robert Bennington, Jr. was feeding the horses on their farm in Streator, Illinois when he saw five hungry coyotes ready to attack him.
Scottee, the 14-year-old bay horse, was the one who led other horses to protect their caretaker.
The calm and friendly horses of the farm formed in group and were ready for defense.
Robert was surprised as Scottee, who was so composed, gentle, and laid back, turned into a wild mare that was rearing, kicking, and ready to fight.
Horse Saves Owner from a Deadly Snake
In 2013, Jade Davies, a 14-year-old teen then, brought her mare’s feed outside the stall when she saw a brown snake gliding through the legs of her 16-year-old horse, T-Bone.
Jade jumped out of fear which caught the snake’s attention, making it slithered towards her.
T-Bone came to help her, attacked the horse, and stomped on it. T-Bone’s front left leg was confined by the snake’s body.
They fought each other; in the end, the snake struck the horse’s fetlock before escaping.
T-Bone was bit and was not able to walk, so they called the vet. If not for T-Bone, that snake would surely bite and poison Jade.
Barnes, A. (2014, November 23). Proof that horses loves their babies just as much as people do! Habitat For Horses. https://www.habitatforhorses.org/proof-that-horses-loves-their-babies-just-as-much-as-people-do/
Blocksdorf, K. (2019, October 13). The top 6 myths about horses you might still believe. The Spruce Pets. https://www.thesprucepets.com/top-horse-myths-1887402
Goodnight, J. G. (2007). Horse Psychology & the Language of Horses. UF/IFAS Extension Administration – University of Florida. https://extadmin.ifas.ufl.edu/media/extadminifasufledu/cflag/image/docs/fl-equine-institute/2007/HorsePsychLanguage.pdf
Michelson Found Animals Foundation. (2018, May 2). Why are dogs loyal? https://www.foundanimals.org/why-are-dogs-loyal/
Ryan, G. (2013, January 18). Hero horse T-bone saves teen from deadly Brown snake. Warwick Daily News. https://www.warwickdailynews.com.au/news/hero-horse-t-bone-saves-teen-deadly-snake-warwick/1721903/