MOSCOW, September 28 – RIA Novosti. Biologists from Norway found that horses have some beginnings of abstract thought and that they are able to use abstract symbols in order to ask the owner to close them with a blanket or, conversely, to remove it, according to a paper published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
The intelligence of horses a long time a matter of controversy among scientists and lovers of these animals. For example, 100 years ago in Germany, was a famous horse named “Clever Hans”, which “owned” the basics of simple arithmetic and watched the calendar. During his public appearances this horse gave correct answers to questions, tapping a hoof the right number of times.
Skeptics said that the horse actually did not think, and “reads” the secret signs that she unwittingly served the master, and deny her unique mental abilities. In subsequent years, similar abilities were found in African grey parrots and some chimpanzees, however, scientists are neither managed to refute or unequivocally prove their existence.
Meidell Cecilia (Cecilie Mejdell) from the Norwegian veterinary Institute in Oslo and her colleagues found that horses actually possess certain rudiments of abstract thinking and know how to use symbols in order to convey their desires to the people around them, observing the behavior of two dozen horses, which their masters were kept as Pets.
Scientists are interested in how horses react to the desire of their owners to cover them with blankets in cold and hot days, and if they can Express their dissatisfaction or ask the person to remove or put them on the blanket by other means, except by emotion.
To do this, scientists have prepared three small planks, painted white, on which was a picture or a horizontal line, denotes the desire to be covered with a blanket, or a vertical line, who signalized otherwise. The third card, which was nothing, was the signal omissions were necessary to assess if their horse is accidentally or that they make an informed choice.
For several weeks, the biologists were trained horses, showing them these cards and hiding or removing them with blankets. In order for scientists, or the owners have performed actions that were depicted on the cards, the horse had to approach one of them and touch her face.
As shown by this experiment, only two weeks of training was enough for all 23 horses have learned to use, and acquired the ability to force owners to cover them with a blanket if they were cold, or Vice versa, to take him out if they were hot. The actions of the horses, as the scientists, was not random, in cold days they are usually asked to close them with a blanket, and hot – remove it.
Interestingly, one of the horses was so pleased with this opportunity, she began to play with the scientists and forced them alternately to remove and return back the covers before they notice her.
Successful completion of these experiments speaks in favor of, according to Madell and her colleagues that the horse is really able to understand the relationship between symbols and the real world and use them to communicate with the person. Of course, it is not possible to say that the “clever Hans” really knew how to count, but this discovery shows that horses are actually smarter than generally believed, scientists conclude.
Horses communicate with hosts using symbols