Horses can learn to communicate with humans and express opinions, say scientists
Norwegian scientists hope the research will encourage horse owners to ask their horses more questions
23 out of 23 horses were able to learn to tell their trainer whether or not they needed a rug to wear Getty
Horses can be trained to communicate with humans to express their feelings and opinions, scientists have discovered.
Past research has confirmed that some species of animals, including apes and dolphins, can learn to communicate preferences by pointing at symbols, much like humans.
Contrary to previous expert opinions, it is now believed that horses are intelligent enough to tell their riders whether or not they want to wear a rug.
Using slices of carrot as an incentive, scientists from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute worked with a horse trainer to teach 23 horses of various breeds how to signal if they were too hot or too cold.
First, each horse was trained to approach a board hung on a fence and touch it with its muzzle.
The horses were then shown how to tell the diference between different symbols marked on the board to indicate the notion of “blanket on” (a horizontal bar), “blanket off” (a vertical bar) and no change (blank).
Finally, each horse was traught to associate a particular action with each symbol.
Hot and cold temperature challenges were performed in order to help learning and determine the animals’ level of understanding.
To be continued on