Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Keri Weed

Second Advisor

Jane Stafford

Third Advisor

Maureen Carrigan


A wealth of research has revealed psychological and physiological benefits of interactions with animals. As yet, research is limited to smaller animals such as dogs and cats and has not examined the benefits of human-horse interactions. The present study examined the effects of video-simulated human-horse interactions compared with simulated interactions with a car and a person on state mindfulness and physiological arousal. The relationship between trait mindfulness and horse experience was also examined. Undergraduate students with (n = 16) and without experience with horses (n = 26) were recruited with the exclusion criteria of a fear of horses. Results provided support for hypotheses in that participants with horse experience had significantly higher HRV, p = .01, ηp2 = .15, and higher mindful awareness, p = .01, d = 0.72, than participants without experience with horses. The current study suggests that the positive benefits of human-animal interactions may be extended to interactions with horses.