A Stinky Situation: Horses Can Smell Human Fear

A study from Poland has shown that horses are able to smell human emotions – including fear.

Dr. Agnieszka Sabiniewicza and her research team collected body odor samples from 10 people who were either happy or fearful to see if the emotional states elicited different responses in horses exposed to them.

The researchers asked the people involved in the study to avoid smoking, smelly foods, exercise, and alcohol for multiple days. They also asked them to wash their clothes in a perfume-free detergent. The scientists then showed the people a cartoon or a horror video while they were wearing sterile pads in their armpits. The pads were collected and frozen to preserve their odor.

The team exposed 21 adult horses to the pads that the fearful or happy humans had worn; the horses were also exposed to pads that were not worn at all, which served as the control.

For the test, two people stood in different corners of the stall while each horse was shown the pads. One person was familiar to the horse and the other was unknown. Neither person interacted with the horse. A pole with four odor pads (either all fearful, all happy or all control) was shown to the horse.

The team found that the horses exposed to the fearful odor raised their heads more frequently and for longer periods of time. These horses also touched the familiar person in their stall more frequently and for longer than they did when exposed to the control or happiness odors.

The team concluded that human body odor alone can serve as an indicator of human emotion and can cause horses to behave differently.

Read more at Equine Science Update.

The post A Stinky Situation: Horses Can Smell Human Fear appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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