BOB HIRSHON (host):
Happy horses. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
(Horse snort sound)
Horses snort when they’re in a good mood, according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE. Rennes-1 University researcher Mathilde Stomp says it can be difficult to assess how an animal is feeling. But her team found that horses often hold their ears in a forward position when they snort.
MATHILDE STOMP (Université de Rennes-1):
We know that their ear position is related to the internal state. The forward position is linked to positive perception of the environment, whereas the backwards position is more related to negative affective state.
What’s more, the horses in the study snorted more when they were put out to pasture than when stuck in indoor stalls.
We think that this acoustic indicator could be a good tool to use to test whether horses positively perceive their environment.
Which, she says, could help improve their welfare. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Susanne Bard