Horses Might Be Smarter Than You Think

horse-in-a-field

Ask any horse-lover if horses can communicate, and they will tell you “Of course!”  Horses have many ways of doing this.  They have various sounds, body language, and movement patterns.  Their ears are especially expressive.

However, what most horse-owners don’t know that horses can communicate with signs.

You heard me.  Horses can point to a sign and communicate their wants!

This incredible fact was reported by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in September of 2016.  (And it was brought to my attention by listening to the Brant Hansen show.)    The university had conducted a study involving 23 horses of all different types and ages, who were trained for 10-15 minutes a day, over a period of 2 weeks.

The researchers trained each horse to point at one of 3 signs: one was pure white, the next was white with a vertical, black line on it, and another was white with a horizontal, black line.

Horses were supposed to point to a sign depending on their wants: should the blanket be put on, removed, or should things stay the same? 

And they did!

Whenever it was warm out, the horses would point to the sign for the blanket to be removed.  When it was cold, they would ask for it to be put on.

In this way, after only 11 days, most of the horses understood the connection between the signs and the blankets.  The equines recognized not only the symbols, but also their affect on the horse’s world, which is a “form of higher learning”, according to Bob Yirka of Phys.org.

This is fascinating.  I wonder: what the implications of this will be?  Can horse owners use this to have a horse, say, choose the saddle which is the most comfortable for him?  Or perhaps indicate when he is in pain?  What do you think?

 

Reference

Phys.org.  “Horses found able to use symbols to convey their desire for a blanket” by Bob Yirka, published on September 26, 2016.  Link = http://phys.org/news/2016-09-horses-convey-desire-blanket.html.

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