By Sarah Romero
Can horses communicate with us? Until now we thought it was not possible. However, a new study carried out by scientists (as well as veterinarians and animal behavior specialists) from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research among others, has shown how a group of equines is able to learn and use successfully a series of symbols.
For this, the Norwegian researchers selected a total of 23 horses of different breeds and taught them to look at a table with three different symbols: the first, represented the horse carrying a blanket, the second, the horse without a blanket and the last drawing without any change .
Horses could choose any of the three symbols by approaching them and touching them with their feet. After 14 days of learning, the equines were able to learn to use and recognize the meaning of each of the instructions in the table.
The researchers tested the experiment in different weather conditions. And so it was: if it was cold, damp and windy, the horses that did not have it touched the icon with the blanket and those that had it touched the icon of "no changes"; if it was sunny, the equines touched with their paw the symbol of the horse without a blanket or the symbol of "without changes" if they were not wearing it.
The results of the study show that horses are capable of understanding the consequences of their choices, which is a first step towards further research on the communication pathways between horses and humans.
The study has been published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science.