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Horses have a Memory for Emotion

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

Riding horses was much safer than walking places; you could escape from attackers if you had a horse (and they didn’t). If you could ride and fight at the same time, you had a strong cavalry that could win battles. Very soon horse-riding spread from Central Asia all across the rest of Asia, Europe, and North Africa.

Farmers didn’t usually use horses for plowing in the ancient world (they usually used oxen instead, or simply turned over the soil by hand). Horses were too expensive, and they needed better quality food than oxen. Also, no good harness arrangement for horses was invented until about 200 BC, when one was invented in China.

Near the beginning of the Iron Age, about 800 BC, people in Central Asia began riding horses more instead of just having them pull wagons. Once some people were riding horses, everybody wanted to do it. On horseback, you could go much faster than anybody had ever gone before. Riding horses was a lot of fun, but also you could carry messages much faster.

horses Have a Memory

Now as per the  study, published in the journal Current Biology, found that despite the humans being in a neutral state during the live meeting, the horses’ gaze direction revealed that they perceived the person more negatively if they had previously seen them looking angry in the photograph rather than happy.

Professor Karen McComb from University of Sussex, UK Horses can read and remember emotional expressions of humans, enabling the animals to use this information to identify people who could pose a potential threat. He narrated that The equines use this information to identify potential threats

Prof. McComb conducted controlled experiments in which domestic horses were presented with a photograph of an angry or happy human face and several hours later saw the actual person who had exhibited the expression, now in an emotionally neutral state. This short-term exposure to the photograph of a person’s facial expression was enough to generate clear differences in subsequent responses upon meeting that individual in the flesh later the same day.

Horses Have a Memory For Emotion

The Legend of Maharana Pratap is incomplete without understanding the loyalty of Chetak.

Chetak - Marwadi breed Horse. Chetak's coat had a blue tinge. That is why Rana Pratap is sometime referred as the Rider of the Blue Horse. Chetak was very aggressive and arrogant horse as shown in TV serial. In reality also many folklore stated that Chetak was not amongst other horses and he has choosen Maharana Pratap as his owner. But equally it was far superior than any of horses of Marwadi clan one of the best horse clan in India in terms of speed and quick response. It is to be noted that Chetak never allowed anyone except Maharana Pratap to take its incharge. He could only be controlled by Maharana Pratap only.

Mughals were of mightiest army in Haldighati consisting 2,00,000 soldiers and their leader Mansingh was at the centre of his army. Mewad had only 22,000 soldiers. The victory for Maharana was only possible through fall of Mansingh. So in order to reach Mansingh at earliest and to minimise heavy losses to Mewad Maharana Pratap opted Chetak who was supposed to find path through any difficulties and reach at Mansingh with speed of Air.

This strategy of Maharana worked at its full and within fraction of time Chetak reached the place where Mansingh was sitting with his best soldiers in hand.

Other possible reason is that many sources revealed that Mughals had tried to kill Chetak before final struggle at Haldighati began. In such attempt by Bhokal Singh (relative of Man Singh) Chetak was injured seriously at neck but still he survived. Maharana never want to lose his favorite horse and he chose to rode Chetak. Also to protect injuries of Chetak from eyes of Mughal army Pratap dressed him with fake tusk and trunk and was named as Hetak.

The current experiment the humans did not know which photographs the horses had previously seen, to avoid any risk of behaving differently themselves. Also the differences in reaction only applied to the person the horses had actually seen in the photograph and were not given to a different person.

 “What we’ve found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state when they meet them later that day - and, crucially, that they adapt their behaviour accordingly. Essentially horses have a memory for emotion,” said Karen McComb from University of Sussex.

“We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability. What’s very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with the person,” said Leanne Proops, of the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

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