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Human-Equine Attachment Questionaire

Hi all - I am a student researcher from Colorado State University in the department of psychology. We are inviting participants who are over the age of 18 and who own or rent/lease a horse. Participation will take approximately 20-30 minutes. This is an anonymous online survey. Participation in this research is voluntary. We will not collect names or any other personal identifiers. While there are no direct benefits, we hope participants will learn more about the relationship they have with their horses. They will also be helping to inform the practices of Equine Assisted Services that use horses to promote human well-being.

Here is the link to participate in this research and to complete the online survey: https://colostate.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6nhvYWZEWoinj0i

The CSU IRB (FWA0000647) has completed its review of protocol 3619 The Human-Equine Attachment Questionnaire. In accordance with federal and state requirements, and policies established by the CSU IRB, the committee has approved this protocol under Exempt review. If you have any questions about the rights of participants in this research, please contact the CSU IRB at: CSU_IRB@colostate.edu or 970-491-1553

I did the survey but it’s rather flawed. It sounds like it’s written for 11 year olds but it’s 18+ to answer.

The questions are ambiguous. “I fully trust myself to be open and vulnerable to my horse.” WTF? Agree or disagree? My horse is not my lover. Get too open and vulnerable and you will be trampled. I trust my horse within parameters that I have trained and established over the past 12 years. She can keep us safe in the back country and doesn’t spook at bicycles and loads safely and calmly in a trailer. She is also capable of losing her ever loving mind in the winter and turning into a cyclone in hand. And once that led to me being trampled and seriously injured.

So when I say I strongly disagree that I trust my horse enough to be open and vulnerable with her, its because I think that’s a batshtcrazy concept that is going to get someone killed. It’s not that “I don’t trust her” and that’s a bad thing like it would be with a lover.

Or “I can work through life problems by talking to my horse.” Again WTAF? I’m not 11. I don’t tell my horse people were mean to me at work and cry in her mane.

The ways that real adult horse people feel.close to their horses is different.

The horse becomes an extension of your body when things are going right in riding. You think a cue and it happens.

You trust your horse to keep you safe and know his job in the discipline you have both trained for whether that’s jumping or back country trail riding or cattle penning or endurance. But as the partner with the frontal lobe, it’s up to you to train and also to keep him safe. The horse has to trust you have his best interests at heart and won’t put him in dangerous situations.

On the ground, the cues can be very subtle but you still need to have boundaries even in liberty work or you will get double barrelled.

The magic about horses is that it anchors you in the present moment and is very zen.

As far as the horse “loving” you, we all know that they need their own species and are usually most content in a compatible herd on a nice field.

In high school one of my friends bought a rank 2 year old that turned out to legitimately have a mean streak. One of our early experiments in drinking parties ended up with friend freaking out sobbing in the bushes that “Pookie doesn’t love me anymore.”

If you want that kind of response you need to interview 14 year olds.

Unless the point is to see if all us old lady returning riders have reverted back to our inner 11 year olds.


I also took the survey and agree with @Scribbler. This survey seems to ask if I’m treating my horse like a human being. My horse is a horse (who I love dearly) but I expect her to be a horse. A horse not being lovey-dovey is not an immediate “omg, they HATE ME”. My mare IS the lovey-dovey type but when given the chance, she much prefers being around other horses to me. While that means I don’t get a magikal-horse-girl bond like the movies, I’m glad she has buddies and doesn’t spend her days fretting where I am.

For the question asking if I tell my horse about my problems, nope because she does not understand English. I do seek her out for company when I’m upset, though! Spending time grooming and just hanging out with her does wonders for my mood.


Same issues as above with the survey :confused:

Gotta laugh about this though. The joke with my horse is that she’s fluent in 3 languages and can swear like a sailor in 8 :rofl: Funny story though which sort of does make me wonder just a bit, a while ago I told my horse I wouldn’t be there the next day and that the owner of her besties across the aisle would be looking after her.

My horse talks (ok, mostly yells at me for being late or not quick enough with dinner or whatever lol) to me. She doesn’t audibly talk to anyone else. She will communicate her needs to others (scratch inside my ear, gimme a candy because I’m making my best cute face, get my owner NOW because I am not feeling well, etc.) but generally only ‘talks’ to me.

The night I wasn’t going to be there, the moment her interim caretaker stepped in the barn, she started yelling audibly to be taken care of. Same thing happened a few months ago with a different person acting as interim caretaker. What. The. Heck.?

But back to the survey? It may be interesting to see what the researcher makes of the results. From an adult point of view, most of the questions were quite bizarre.


Count me as another one who thought the survey questions missed the mark. The questions seemed to target adolescent humans, and whoever designed the survey seemed to lack a basic understanding of horse psychology.

My horses and I have a bond. I love them and will do my very best to take care of them, but I don’t expect them to tend to my emotional needs. They aren’t capable of that kind of interaction. They are bonded to me and they like me, but although they always seem happy to see me I don’t think they miss me when I’m not around. What they need from me is leadership. They need to know they can trust me and I will keep them safe. A good relationship with a horse is never exactly equal. Yes, you may be partners, but one of you is always the boss (and it works better if the human is boss).



This is the difference between adults and horses interacting and children and horses interacting.


Ha! I’m pretty sure my one old lady mare considers me staff. It’s her herd, I just provide administrative support :joy: :joy:


After reading the above, I believe I’ll skip actually taking the survey :smirk:
I love my horses, my cats & even my chickens & the goldfish in my stock tank.
But each “love” is different & all differ from the human version of same.
Sounds like this survey is leaning towards anthropomorphism.
Always a mistake when dealing with a different species.

Okay, I checked out the survey & yeah, :ox::poop: on the touchy feely questions :unamused:


Yeah it reads like a therapist’s questionnaire for a “troubled kid” whose parents put them in therapy.

Horses aren’t people.


IF you are a multiple horse owner it says to base answers on the horse you have had the longest. That’s my surliest, testiest, crankiest, curmudgeon of a horse, so all the questions were even farther afield for me.

Definitely a bizarre list of questions. Like, I have never believed talking to my horses would solve my problems. . .


why not just go Back to last year to read the results of the survey asked for last year?


Good catch, lol!


Oh how bizarre. What’s going on here? Are these just first year students let loose on the world to try out a survey? Or is there some course on human/animal psychology and you get assigned a species? Or it’s 18 year olds trying to remember being 11 year old horse crazy tweens? In any case that’s two really oddly slanted surveys from the same school so I’m assuming it’s a repeat undergrad assignment rather than professor or graduate student work.

The same week too! Clearly an assignment.


Welp, the researcher named on the survey page is a PhD student, not a freshman…


(Her full name is listed on the survey page, so I think it’s okay to share her linked in?)

And she was seeking responses last year, too, so probably the same person as the other post. Here is the same request on Reddit from last year.



Haha. I was just looking at COTH user name and they were different :slight_smile:

Ok I see from the reddit that she’s trying to get answers that will fit some idea about Equine Assisted Services.

But those questions come from misunderstanding.

Equine Assisted Learning is likely totally useless as a therapy for horse people. It’s something you do with people who are totally new to horses to open them up to something fresh.


Yeah. This account was just created today, so probably forgot the login details for last year’s post/account?


Is this where I trot out my story about a vet student (not pre-vet, actually doing veterinary research) and how my eyes rolled so hard I about had to be hospitalized?

I worked in a dairy barn. It was often chosen/boss signed up to have researchers from the vet college come in to use the herd as part of whatever research project they were doing.

The year in question they were studying bedding depth’s correlation to lameness in dairy cattle. So I’m moving through the barn with them chatting and keeping them safe while they were bent over with their rulers, etc. and assessing soundness of the cows.

We came to a stall with my latest ‘pet’ cow who had had a claw amputated recently. Keep in mind I said claw, not dew claw, claw as in half of one foot was gone, bones and all. Buhbye coffin bone, gone. She had half a foot. Half.

“Why is she wearing a bandage.”

“I have to treat it daily and keep it wrapped until the stump gets a good callous on it.”

“What happened to her?”

Here I stupidly wasted far too much breath on telling them the entire tale from initial subsolar ulcer all the way to the signs I saw (flaming red coronet band) that told me that half of the foot had to go* or she had to be PTS immediately.

I concluded my story by telling them that the claw had been surgically amputated and she was recovering extremely well.

Now keep in mind, this is not Joe off the street. This is not a grade 6 child who has just learnt that lizards can regenerate parts.

“Will it grow back?”

“What?” (I was busy thinking what, the hair around the coronet band of her now non-existent claw? Why would they care?)

“Her foot.”


*cool thing about cows is that half of a foot can go and the cow might just fully recover to lead a normal life :slight_smile:


Did the survey, since you all said it was weird…yup, definitely weird. I am inordinately fond of my pony, and have been known to escape to the barn on a bad day, but I’ve never expected the undying loyalty on his side to last any longer than the supply of peppermints.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my ponies, and I get a big warm fuzzy when I call them over and they trot up making happy pony noises. I also realize I’m the food lady.

The only distress I feel when Mr O’Pony doesn’t understand me is frustration at myself in not giving a clear cue, and if he could talk, it would probably go a little like this:
Me: Hey, Buddy, I’m having a real existential crisis here and
Pony: peppermints?
Me: I’m really stressed out at work, my kids won’t
Pony: food time?
Me: do anything I ask and no one picks up anything around the house and
Pony: FOod TIME
ME: I just don’t have the energy to deal with my parents and that whole situation is
Pony: (CHOMP)
Me: dammit, Darby! That hurt!


I’ll give your student a break & suggest perhaps they thought - like a hoof capsule* - the part would regrow.

*I found this out when a subsolar abcess in my WB became an anaerobic infection that would cause the hoof to slough, but it could regrow.
Sadly, a long & painful process that I chose to not put him through @19yo.