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Horses remember your mood

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The research follows previous work by the team from University of Sussex which compiled a directory of horse facial expressions, and revealed that Black Beauty can read your emotions a phenomenon also seen in dogs.

“We knew that horses could register emotional expressions, so we wanted to know if they could remember them, so that they can actually use those memories to guide their future interactions with specific individuals,” said Karen McComb, co-author of the study and professor of animal behaviour and cognition at the University of Sussex.

McComb and colleagues analysed data from 11 horses who had been shown a photograph of a human pulling an angry face and 10 horses shown a picture of a human smiling.

To see whether the results were a response to a particular person, the team showed 24 different horses a happy or angry photo of one of two participants and, later that day, brought them face-to-face with the other participant. “They treated the person the same irrespective of whether it was the negative [photograph] they had seen in the morning or the positive one,” said McComb, although she noted that in both cases the horses spent longer looking with their left eye, possibly indicating they weren’t keen on the experimental setup.

The team note that it is not clear whether horses can also read the expressions of other species, too, or if they are particularly tuned into humans possibly as a result of domestication either through an innate or learned ability.

Paul McGreevy, professor of animal behaviour and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study said the research highlights the importance of social bonding in horses.

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Horses can sense you face

 

 

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