Background & Aims



The horse’s role in our lives has changed quite a bit over the years, from being used in agriculture and for transport to being used for sport and leisure. As such, the horse has become a cherished companion for many. As this shift has happened over the years, more focus has been put on the human-horse relationship with a growing interest in the relationship between horse and owner emerging.

With the growing interest in the human-horse relationship more and more studies have emerged investigating the possibility of an attachment bond between horse and owner, searching for similarities to the attachment bonds found between a dog and its owner. The studies investigating the human-dog relationship have found that dogs view their owner as an attachment figure who they actively sought out in stressful situations. Similar attachment bonds have also been observed between cats and their owner.

The question then is: Do horses have an attachment bond to their owner like cats and dogs do? The answer to that is not entirely clear, previous studies investigating the relationship between horse and owner have often focused on the owner’s perspective of the relationship. Which tells us very little about the horse’s perspective of the relationship. The studies that have investigated the relationship between horse and owner from the horse’s perspective have however not found any clear indication of an attachment bond between horse and owner like the ones observed between dogs (or cats) and their owner.

The aim of this study was to investigate if there is an attachment bond between a horse and its owner and if the horses preferred their owner over a stranger when given a choice of the two.