Horses can communicate with us - scientists
|bbc.com 24 Sep 2016 at 06:31|
Scientists trained horses, by offering slices of carrot as an incentive, to touch a board with their muzzle to indicate if they wanted to wear a rug.
The horses requests matched the weather, suggesting it wasn t a random choice.
A few other animals, including apes and dolphins, appear, like us, to express preferences by pointing at things.
Dr Cecilie Mejdell of the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, who led the research, said they wanted to find a way to ask the horse whether or not it liked wearing a blanket.
In Nordic countries, it is common for horses to wear a blanket in all weathers.
"I think our study adds to the knowledge on horse cognition - about what horses are able to learn and how they think," she told BBC News.
"Horses are often considered to be not very intelligent but this shows that using the right methods they can actually communicate and express their opinions and they can take choices that seem sensible to us even."
The scientists worked with a horse trainer to teach 23 horses of various breeds how to communicate with humans.
Horses requested a blanket in wet, windy and cold weather, but went without when the weather was sunny, say the researchers.