Science & Equine

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Horses have more facial expressions than imagined

Facial Action Coding Systems (FACS) provide an objective systematic methodology of identifying and coding facial expressions on the basis of underlying facial musculature and muscle movement. FACS have the potential to assess and improve welfare for horses, as well as enhancing our understanding of communication and cognition.  FACS are anatomically based and document all possible facial movements. A wide range of facial movements were identified, including many that are also seen in primates and other domestic animals (dogs and cats). 

Fascial expression include brow raising, eyelid movement, blinking, visability of eye white, upper lip raising, lip corner pulling, nostril lifting, lip depression or relaxation, chin raising, lip curling, lips parting, jaw movement and a variaty of ear movements. A more extensive discription of al these movement including pictures is found in the full scientific artikel.

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Well-educated study. Using similar FACS that already existed for people and other animal species. On the basis of specific anatomy found in dissection, these Facs where adapted to the horse. The study includes a test about the user reliability of this FACS. The coding proved to be reliable also for non-horse experts.


> From: Wathan et al., PLoS ONE 10 (2015) . All rights reserved to 2015 Wathan et al. Click here for the online summary


Image by: Wathan et al