Start Research Social learning across species: horses (Equus caballus) learn from humans by observation (Scheutz 2017)
Social learning across species: horses (Equus caballus) learn from humans by observation (Scheutz 2017) PDF Print E-mail

Social learning across species: horses (Equus caballus) learn from humans by observation

Schuetz, A., Farmer, K., Krüger. K. Animal Cognition, May 2017, Volume 20

 

Brief summary and comments

 

Horses can identify individual humans and orientate on the focus of human attention, so do they also learn from humans? To find out, we tested 24 horses, which were split into two groups.

 

12 horses were tested on whether they would learn to open a feeding apparatus by observing a familiar person operating it. The other 12 were turned loose with the apparatus, did not have a demonstration of how to operate it. To open it, a switch had to be pressed that would then electronically open a box with feed in it.

 

 

 

More horses from the group with demonstration (8/12) learned to open the feeder than from the group with no demonstration (2/12), and younger horses seemed to learn more quickly. This shows that horses can learn by observing other species, in this case humans.

 

Most horse-people have had the experience of a horse appearing to learn something (often something you'd rather they didn't learn!) from another horse. However, it seems they can also learn by watching people. Your horse may be much smarter than you thought!

 

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