If you’re a horse owner, you probably know just how expressive horses can be…but you probably didn’t this! It was recently discovered in a study conducted by the University of Sussex that horses use 17 different facial movements to communicate. This makes horses even more expressive than dogs!
One of the most interesting findings in the study was the discovery of the similarities between horse and human facial movements, including raising inner eyebrows to show emotions like fear, surprise, and sadness.
It was with meticulous research that these findings were discovered, “The researchers analyzed video footage of a wide range of naturally occurring horse behaviors to identify all the different movements it is possible for horses to make with their face. They also carried out an anatomical investigation of the facial muscles that underpin these movements. Each individual facial movement that was identified was given a code.” – University of Sussex
Jennifer Wathan, the study’s lead author, is hoping that the findings allow a better understanding of the emotional lives of animals, “…we can now document the facial movements associated with different social and emotional contexts and thus gain insights into how horses are actually experiencing their social world. As well as enhancing our understanding of social cognition and comparative psychology, the findings should ultimately provide important information for veterinary and animal welfare practices.”
How exciting! We can’t wait to see how future studies further develop these findings.