We all learned from a young age that a horse goes neigh, but what we often don’t realize is that a horse neighing isn’t actually providing communication to another horse. For the longest time we actually haven’t been very sure on how horses communicate with each other. This is largely because we haven’t really done many studies on avenues of communication that humans can’t utilize. It was only until recently that we have finally done such a study on a unique one to animals, movable ears.
Obviously people don’t move their ears to communicate, but horses certainly do based on this recent study. In fact the ears can give away a lot of information about animals, which is something we’ve known for some time, but we never quite put it together that other animals were picking up on that as well. It seems like such an obvious thing to study but the majority of animal studies are done around animal communication with things like body language, which humans do use.
But horses, like humans, are social animals, and it was obvious they do use some forms of body language, but the movable ears are one of the biggest factors in their communication. A horse’s ears can signal to another horse anything from their mood to where they should be looking for food or predators.
The test that was used involved pictures of horses, which helped show that horses could identify another horse in a picture and led to the majority of horses being able to pick a correct bucket of feed that the horse in the picture had been looking at and directing to with their ears.
The study, although not seeming like much, is quite important for anyone who deals with horses as it shows that horses are capable of recognizing and sharing with others when one food is better than another or more importantly into how horses are social and how they think in particular. It could prove invaluable later on as ways of training horses or understanding and connecting with them better.