Horses Communicate With Their Ears
We assume that animals communicate like humans do. We assume they use verbal communication and body language, but that’s not always the case.
Tarsiers speak in ultrasound, and horses communicate with their ears.
Horses “Speak” With Their Ears
A Ph.D. student at the University of Sussex, Jennifer Watham, decided to view the world like a horse would to understand how these social animals communicate.
Wathan theorized that horses can use their ears to give other horses information about food or predators.
To test her theory, she and her advisor Karen McComb took pictures of horses in a pasture looking at one of two food buckets.
In one group of pictures, the horses’ ears were covered. In the second group, their eyes were covered. In the third group of pictures, the horses’ eyes and ears were uncovered.
The pictures were turned into life-sized pictures, so a horse could look at it to determine which bucket to choose.
When the horses looked at a picture from group one or two, they looked at the picture less and chose the bucket randomly.
However, when they saw the picture in which the eyes and ears were uncovered, they chose the bucket the horse in the picture was looking at 75% of the time.
Horse Ear Interpretation
Horses’ ears are very mobile. They can point up, point forward, lie flat, and rotate almost 180 degrees.
When a horse is interested in something, it picks up its ears and swivels them toward whatever it is they are interested in.
If a horse is feeling relaxed, it’ll flatten its ears down. But if it’s alert, its ears will be pointing forward.
Beware when you see a horse with its ears pinned back, which means it is angry.
Horses aren’t the only ones who communicate with their ears. Donkeys do it, too.