Horses Can Tell If You Are Untrustworthy, New Study Finds
Horses can tell in you are untrustworthy, a new study finds.
The study looked at whether horses could assess the credibility of information given to them by humans. They were able to determine that by reading social cues horses were able to tell whether the information given was correct or not.
Two buckets were given to the horses; one with a hidden treat, and one without. Two people then pointed at the buckets, however only one knowing where the treat was hidden.
The study team observed that the horses who had sustained high attention levels could evaluate the credibility of the information given to them. Horses followed the person who knew where the food was hidden.
Previous studies in dogs have suggested similar. Dogs can respond to the pointing gestures of humans and comprehend the communicative nature of this cue. It is believed to not just be a simple mechanism of learning a stimulus, but a more complex response involving reading human body language.
This study found horses could recognise an object of interest from a human by using their “eye-object line”. As the trials weren’t repeated, the horse’s choice could not be attributed to learning. This further suggests that horses were in-tune to human attentional states during the task.
It was further suggested that horses may have advanced socio-cognitive abilities. These abilities are thought to of influenced their domestication. Lifetime interactions with humans may have helped to develop their ability to read human social cues.
The study adds the growing literature on horse’s and their ability to assess human-given information. A 2008 study has shown that horses ignore information given to them by ‘unreliable’ humans.
For the full research paper, visit www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-95727-8#Sec3
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Reporting on equestrian news stories, Abby also produces a variety of engaging content for the magazine.