LOS ANGELES - Horses can officially be taught to communicate with symbols. Or as humans call it: to read.
He’s your partner and most trusted confidant. But now, he can finally tell you what he’s thinking. Or at least you won’t have to guess whether or not he wants his blanket, thanks to a group of researchers from The Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
The researchers came up with 3 signs (plain white, a white sign with a horizontal black stripe, and a white sign with a vertical black stripe) and over the course of just 2 weeks, trained 12 horses to use the symbols to indicate whether they wanted a blanket put on, taken off, or to be left where it was.
And it worked. According to the results published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, by the end of the training, all of the horses were on board. They weren’t randomly picking symbols, either. They’d ask for a blanket when it got colder or ask to have it removed when they were sweating.
What’s more, the horses were enthusiastic students- and often responded before they were even asked- like they’ve only been waiting over 5,000 year of domestication for the ones with opposable thumbs to come up with a couple symbols.
It’s amazing. Turns out “you can lead a horse to water, but” you could also just ask him if he’s thirsty in the first place.