As horse people, we all know that horses communicate in many different ways. They have their own opinions about things and try to coax humans to do what they want regularly! We don’t just bark orders or whisper if that’s what you prefer at our robot horses and expect them to listen. Communication with a horse is a two-way street. We LISTEN to our horses!
In case you need proof, Japanese scientists Monamie Ringhofer and Shinya Yamamoto of Kobe University have published the results of their first research investigating how horses respond to their human companions in the journal Animal Cognition. They did their research on eight thoroughbreds. A research assistant put a carrot in a food bucket for each horse, but the bucket wasn’t accessible to the horses. The bucket was, however, accessible to the human caretaker. In one group of horses, the human caretaker was there to witness the carrot going into the bucket (knowledge state). The caretaker in the other group of horses did not witness the carrot being placed into the bucket (uniformed state). They videotaped the responses and compared them between both conditions.
The researchers found that the horses in the uninformed group used more visual and tactile signals. In their efforts to coax their caretakers to find the carrot, they increased how much they touched, looked at and/or lightly pushed on their ignorant caretaker.
“This study is the first to show that horses possess some cognitive basis for this ability of understanding others’ knowledge state in social communication with humans,” Ringhofer and Yamamoto write. “Most horses used visual and tactile signals to request the [attention of the] caretakers. However, two horses seemed to use extra behavior. They stood near the caretaker and located their face in front of the caretaker (very close to the caretaker’s face). Then, both of them finally hit the caretakers’ face with their face,” Ringhofer said.
While they couldn’t determine if the face hitting was accidental or purposeful, we all know it was on purpose! The bottom line is, HORSES ARE SMART! This is something we all knew, but for some reason, the rest of the world just doesn’t understand.
Source, NPR.org. Share this on Facebook if you love horses!