'Loyal' horses remember kind-hearted human buddies

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Washington, March 18 (ANI): A new research has found that horses remember people who treat them well and understand words better than earlier believed.

Carol Sankey, an ethologist at the University of Rennes, who led the research, insists that horses have "excellent memories," and can recall their human friends even after being separated.

Moreover, they can even remember complex, problem-solving strategies for more than ten years.

"Horses maintain long-term bonds with several members of their family group, but they also interact temporarily with members of other groups when forming herds," Discover News quoted Sankey, as saying.

She added: "Equid social relationships are long-lasting and, in some cases, lifelong."

The researchers studied 20 Anglo-Arabian and three French Saddlebred horses stabled in Chamberet, France to reach the conclusion.

They tested if the horses remembered a female trainer and her instructions after she and the horses had been separated up to eight months.

As part of the study, the horses were made to remain immobile in response to the verbal command "reste!" which is French for "stay."

Also, the horses also had to lift their feet, tolerate a thermometer inserted into the rectum and more. When a horse did as it was instructed, the trainer rewarded it with food pellets.

According to the researchers, the horses "displayed more 'positive' behaviors toward the experimenter, such as sniffing and licking," which are apparently signs of affiliation with each other and not just a gesture for searching food.he scientists wrote: "Horses trained without reinforcement expressed four to six times more 'negative' behaviors, such as biting, kicking and 'falling down' on the experimenter."

After the eight months of separation, the horses trained with food rewards were found gravitated towards the same experimenter.

Also, they seemed to be more cordial to new people, suggesting they had developed a "positive memory of humans" in general.

The researchers added: "From our results, it appears that horses are no different than humans (in terms of positive reinforcement teachings). They behave, learn and memorize better when learning is associated with a positive situation."

The study will soon be published in the journal Animal Behavior. (ANI)

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