If you’ve been around horses, you’ve undoubtedly heard them snort - in their stalls, out in pasture or being ridden. And if you own a horse, you may even have had the lovely experience of being snorted on. But do horse shorts mean anything more than a horse clearing his nasal passage? Last year, a team of researchers at the University of Rennes in France conducted research to see if they could identify under what circumstances these “blowouts” in horse’s occurred.Researchers examined two groups of horses:
Group 1 - horses were kept in small stalls and ridden for 4-12 hours a week under the supervision of a riding instructor. Horses had some pasture turnout for varying and limited amounts of time.
Group 2 - horses were kept in more natural conditions, living outdoors in small groups with other horses on pasture. They were occasionally used for relaxed pleasure riding.
The researchers wanted to test whether snorting in horses occurred more often in positive situations for the horses than those in stressful situations. They looked at a variety of circumstances, including the horses’ living arrangement and workload. They discovered that horses living in the natural, relaxed environments that allowed them access to pasture to graze and to other horses to socialize produced far more snorts.
Their results were published in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science). They concluded that the number of times a horse snorts is a reliable indication of a horse’s positive or negative state-of-mind. A snorting horse is a happy horse.