Horses' facial expressions similar to those of humans


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Well, I dunno about horses, but just now I told my pupper that he wasn’t getting any of my chicken nuggets because dog toothpaste doesn’t grow on trees and he clearly, clearly looked at me like, “we’ll see, hooman.”


also eeeeeesh on that name… equifFACS…


Horses use 17 discrete facial movements in communication, compared to 27 for people, 16 for dogs, and 13 for chimpanzees.

I am still rather skeptical as to how such movements qualify as being “communication”. Most people I speak to aren’t even aware of most of these muscular fluctuations, so when I ask them what they meant, they can’t usually say. If there was no intent, then there was arguably no message. Sure, every movement is some indicator of the state of an organism. But the insistence on framing this as being a “language” which can be parsed to have specific reproducible meanings strikes me as obviously and deeply suspect.

By analogy, I can perform a spectrographic analysis of a star and learn a tremendous amount of vital information about it. But I cannot reasonably infer from this that it has a language, and is trying to communicate messages to me. There is no intentionality, nor semantic layer of meanings or concepts.


I understand the entire catalog was recently leaked.


Horses use 17 discrete facial movements in communication, compared to 27 for people, 16 for dogs, and 13 for chimpanzees.

Yes, but I’ve been adopted by cats!




Has anyone compared the facial expressions of domesticated horses to more wild equine cousins? I’d be interested to know if humans had managed to breed horses to be more like ourselves, just as we did with wolves/dogs.


So, why the long face?


If one were to discount unconscious communication, for some reason.



I’m going to assume that the fact that the list of examples includes one neutral-to-positive expression, “greeting”,(hopefully coincidentally the one that you would deploy very early in an encounter) and then a lot of…less happy…ones (fear, surprise, sadness, submission; and alarm) is not related to what methods may have been used in studying the musculature under the facial skin…

It seems so much less dark that way.


actions are louder anyways


Horses are definitely better at smiling than I am.


Clicked hoping to see Mr. Ed; was not disappointed.


Don’t anthropomorphisize animals, they really hate that.


I’m afraid you focused on the wrong end of the horse; let me fix that for you.




Oh, shit, these people are alarmed that my head doesn’t move.
I’ll try twitching these bits at about once per second.
Hmm… now they look confused. And their eyes and mouths are moving more.
I will try increasing the frequency of these bits to move at about every 0.2 seconds.
And for extra casualness, I will shift about half of my body weight here, and sway my arms around for about two seconds.
Dammit, they’re running away.

Sometimes I will make a mental record of the kinds of twitches and gestures people make, and try to combine them in different rhythms to help them to feel relate-able and at-ease. The effects tend to be anything but! I live in uncanny valley.

“We got more gongs than the breakdancing robot that caught on fire.”


It would be better if its name was equiFACTS and was a twitter account…

Did you know that horses build their nest with sticks and mud with an underwater entrance to protect themselves from wolves and wolverines? #equiFACTS

DISCLAIMER: I may or may not be an expert about horses or even know what horses are.