Yes, they do! Here at My Little Horse Listener, we never hesitate to show human affection to our miniature horses, donkey and mule. Everyone in the corral has become accustomed to spontaneous hugs and kisses, sometimes accoompanied by a sudden burst of very off-key singing with a playlist that runs the gamut from nursey rhymes to Frank Sinatra to oldies.
Why do we do hug, kiss and sing to our herd, especially when none of this is natural behavior to an equine? There are at least three reasons.
First - when it comes to communicating with each other, horses and humans are often like citizens of very different countries who do not speak the same language but very much want to get their point across. We constantly study each other's body language and we (the humans) have spent hours learning what subtle movements and vocaliations might mean. The equines are always watching us too! Communication is reciprocal and we want the entire herd to become familiar with human body movements and sounds because hugs, kisses and singing are positive, friendly and non-threatening.
Secondly - our equines are constantly meeting new children, some of whom want to immediately throw their arms around a cuddly little equine. We teach safe behavior around horses, but don't want to be a "DON"T TOUCH!" type of program
Third - hugging a receptive miniature horse, donkey or mule is truly indulging in one of life's greatest pleasures. We do it often and highly recommend it!