For horses, ears are a vital means of communication. Through its ears, a horse not only expresses a mood but manages to communicate a thought
- #equine science
We all know that ears for a horse are a means of communication but to what extent these can be important in equine language is perhaps a little more difficult to understand.
The researchers Wathan and McComb who work at the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research School of Psychology, University of Sussex, have tried to understand this.
To understand the importance of this means of communication the British researchers created a very particular experiment which involved more than 70 horses. These subjects were put in front of a picture depicting a horse's profile as such, or with ears or eyes obscured by a mask similar to the one used for insects. Below the photo printed in real size and hanging on the wall were two buckets containing delicious food; the attention of the horse in the photo was, however, directed at only one of the two buckets.
When the entire horse's nose in the photo was visible the horses went straight to the bucket indicated in fact by the subject in the photo. In practice, the horses had been guided by the horse in the photo despite the fact that naturally it was immobile. If, on the other hand, the ears or eyes had been covered by the mask and thus not visible, the horses appeared to be more undecided, turning their attention to the other bucket located close by. This was repeated especially when the ears were covered that seem in fact to function as a guide at the moment of choice.
This shows that horses have an ability to understand communication signals in a subtle and particular manner. Even a variation in the small details that to us may seem insignificant are fundamental for them. We must therefore be able to recognise their specialties. Masks and head wear can make it difficult to understand their language, both for us and their fellow horses, thus making communication difficult. The ears thanks to their movements are a communicative tool that is essential to be correctly interpreted in order to better understand the secret language of horses.
Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/28583944