“The mind of the horse” – biopsychology of equine behavior
Biopsychology investigates how biological processes interact with behaviors, emotions, cognitions, and other mental processes, in other words, our thoughts, feelings, and what we do. This field of psychology is often referred to by a variety of names including physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and psychobiology.
Frauke Musial has acquired a Ph.D. in Biopsychology, is a dedicated equestrian and para-rider with a scientific and educational background in Biopsychology and Neuroscience as well as a strong research record in her field of expertise. She currently holds a position as a Professor for Healthcare research – alternative treatment at UiT, The Arctic University of Tromsø. Even though, she describes herself as a leisure rider and not a professional horsewoman, her scientific background has fostered a deep interest in the horses’ mind and the biopsychology of her equine friends.
Celina Skogan is an licensed Bent Branderup Trainer in Academic Art of Riding and an equine osteopath with decades of experience in both arenas. Consequently, she is an expert for the horses’ behavior in health and disease. She has authored and co-authored a number of publications in the field of horse training. Her fundamental interest in the scientific and evidence based foundations of her profession, has fostered a strong desire to base her work in scientific evidence. Thus, it was no surprise that when Frauke and Celina met in Tromsø, the “groundwork” for friendship and cooperation was in place.
In this webinar, we will discuss the physiological foundations of behavior, thinking (cognition), and feelings (emotion) of horses in health and disease. Taking an evolutionary perspective, we will take the difference between the human as a predator and social hunter, and the horse as a prey and flight animal as point of departure. The evolutionary adaptation to these fundamentally different ways of existence have led to substantial differences in the behavioral needs between us humans and our equine friends. Those different behavioral needs manifest themselves in our respective physiology. Nonetheless, despite all these differences, horses and humans have also many things in common: As social animals, they both share similarities in the limbic system (emotions) of the brain and exhibit similar emotional patterns in parenting behavior, socialization of the young, and social bonding. It is the things we share and have in common that are the neurophysiologic basis of connection. A social bond of love and trust between two species so different and yet so alike!