Horses use Symbols to Communicate Preferences A study finds horses can use symbols to communicate their preferences with us.

Horses Use Symbols to Communicate Preferences

Horse Blanket On or Off?

Wish your horse could tell you if they want their horse blanket on or off on a cold, but sunny day, so they don’t end up a sweaty mess?

A study finds horses can use symbols to communicate their preferences with us.

The study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science explores the training of more than 20 horses in Norway. Researchers used three neutral symbols so the animals can communicate their blanketing preferences to their handlers.

The study cut-off was day 14 and all of the horses met the training deadline. In fact, the majority succeeded by day 11. Warmbloods took less time than the cold-blooded breeds.
Tests were conducted under different weather conditions. Results show the horses’ choices were not random but dependent on the weather. Horses chose to stay without a blanket in nice weather, and they chose to have a blanket on when the weather was wet, windy, and cold.
Researchers state the horses used their new insight to communicate their preferences regarding blanketing to stay comfortable.

The study states positive reinforcement training increases horses’ interest in humans and their motivation to participate. When the horses realized they could communicate regarding their blankets, many of the horses became eager and focused.