Study: Horses Can Smile … in Their Own Way

A brown horse walking through gate

Do horses smile? They sure do.

Recent study results suggest horses have specific facial expressions that reveal positive emotions akin to “happiness,” in a sense. And while those expressions might not be the cheesy cartoon grin or the human ear-to-ear, they do represent the “equine happy face.”

“What we’re seeing really is a kind of ‘smile,’” said Léa Lansade, PhD, of the French Horse and Riding Institute and the National Institute for Agricultural Research’s behavior science department, in Tours.

“And while in our scientific jargon, we don’t really use the adjective, ‘happy,’ the emotion we’re picking up from that ‘smile’ does strongly resemble a positive welfare state,” she said.

Many horse owners already recognize a sort of “smile” with their own horses, Lansade added. However, her research group picked up on particularly subtle expressions that owners might not always pick up on.

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POST DATE: 02/01/2019