When solving problems, your horse may look to you for the answer.
Do you ever feel like your horse is looking to you for help? According to a new study by researchers from Kobe University about how horses go about solving problems, you might be right.
The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, shows that when horses encounter problems, they will look to the humans around them for help. Even more impressively, they seem to be able to recognize the awareness level humans have about the problem.
During the study, the researchers hid carrots in a bucket that was extremely difficult to access. When humans who were unaware of the hidden carrots arrived on the scene, the horses lingered around them, looking at them and even nudging them. To the researchers, these looks and touches were seen as the horses sending signals to the humans.
A second experiment was set up to check whether the horses would alter their behavior based on whether or not the human knew about the hidden food. They did. With humans who were not aware of the carrots (had not observed the carrot's placement in view of the animals), the horses engaged in more signaling than they did with humans who they had seen observe the placement.
According to the researchers, this shows that, not only can horses communicate their needs to humans, they can change their behavior based upon what they think humans know about a situation. This, they say, indicates a high degree of cognitive skill.
Horse and humans have been partners for thousands of years, and there have been multiple studies that demonstrate the horse's intelligence, but this study actually makes us feel needed; it shows that our horses are not only smart, but look to us when in trouble.
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