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I believe the one about the dogs, the one about the horses seems odd to me. A horses vision is not great close up, and limited in front(where the girl was sitting) by eye placement so I have a hard time believing that a horse recognizes a photo. They are however very intuitive and highly sensitive to emotion, breathing patterns and scent. I would be interested in more details about environmental controls that were in place and how many horses they tested, and from where.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sorry, @Sabismom, I was rushing about yesterday and neglected to include a link to the study. With regard to your points: by human research standards, the sample was small. Though replication is clearly needed, the significance levels suggest that these findings aren't a fluke. (I didn't see effect sizes, though, which is a pity). I understand what you're saying about the limits of monocular vs. binocular vision, but that's a separate consideration which I don't think is critical here. Horses will shift their heads in order to get a 'fix' on the object/person with both eyes, separately, and that's not just a function of distance. They'll do it if you're standing right next to them. So, the question isn't so much whether/how horses see things, but what they can do with that information when they get it.

Here's what's striking to me about these findings:

1. Horses apparently can process emotionally valent information (positive vs. negative human facial expressions) even when it's shown in just two dimensions (photo); that's new -- well to me anyway.

2. Horses can recognize the person shown in the photo when that same person is presented IRL.

3. Emotionally valent information obtained from the photo (happy vs. mad) differentiates the horse's response when the person is presented IRL; viz, heart rate increases when presented with a 'mad' as opposed to a 'happy' person.

All of this makes sense when you think of the subtle cues by which boss mares control the herd (e.g., the angry mare face). What's striking is that horses apparently can do all of this with information shown only in two dimensions and in the absence of other supporting cues (e.g., breathing patterns and scent).

Here's the original study; I'd be interested in what you and others think after taking a look at it.

Functionally relevant responses to human facial expressions of emotion in the domestic horse: Horses discriminate facial expressions | Biology Letters

Aly
 

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Funny about the dog study, because I thought it was a Fact. :)

If I look over at Rumo and talk to him in a special happy voice, he looks backs, his mouth opens a bit, and he Smiles. There is no doubt in my mind that he is Smiling in response. In fact I remember saying out loud to husband, "I didn't know that dogs smiled like that?!"
 

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Yep Aly, data is interesting!

I tested the hypothesis today...
I got my phone ready and said, "Hi Rumo! Hi Rumo!"
And he responded with his usual pleasant doggy Smile. :)

I don't know any horses to test the other paper. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Wot a handsome boy! Love the expression in his eyes. :)

The first study reminds me of findings showing that you could elicit imitative behavior by yawning in front of your dog. One of the interesting aspects of that earlier study was that the closer the attachment, the more likely the dog was to yawn in response to the handler's yawns. Or, the more likely the dog was to imitate the handler's calming signals --- depending on your perspective. Anyway, I really enjoy studies that demonstrate (once again) that these are sentient beings we live with...

Aly
 
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