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Image by skeeze on Pixabay
Image by skeeze on Pixabay

by Denise Steffanus

Think back to your first encounter with a horse. Were you warned that if you were afraid, the horse could smell your fear? It turns out that was good advice.

People emit a particular chemosignal while experiencing a specific emotion that induces the same emotion in another person who smells that odor. Chemosignals are chemical signals the human body gives off, primarily through sweat. Now researchers have found that horses also can smell human emotions.

Dr. Antonio Lanatá and his colleagues at the University of Pisa, Italy, have found that horses can smell fear and happiness. While these are just two emotions the researchers identified, further studies may reveal horses can pick up additional emotions from the body odors humans emit.

The researchers theorized, “We know that horses perform unexpected reactions when being ridden by a nervous person. This research background led us to suspect that the olfactory system of horses is likely to enable them to read human emotional states by means of the axial chemosignals humans emit.”

Human participants in the horse study watched scary movies or happy movies while wearing armpit pads to collect their sweat. The research team asked the subjects to observe a strict protocol for two days prior to the sweat collection that eliminated exposure to odorous foods, alcohol, tobacco, or external odors that could compromise the results. They also were asked not to exercise excessively.

Image by skeeze on Pixabay

This article originally appeared in it's entirety on The Paulick Report and this excerpt is published here with permission.

Find more interesting stories in our section on Health & Education.

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