What's in a horse's snort? Scientists clear up the debate
It is a question that has baffled even the most accomplished horsemen and women for millennia: what's in a snort?
Now, scientists in France claim to have come up with the answer - and it's a happy one.
In a new trial, researchers moved 48 horses between comfortable, fun environments and enclosed spaces with little stimulation, measuring the frequency of snorts as they went.
They found the animals emitted significantly more of the explosive exhalations in favourable contexts.
Indeed, the correlation was so striking that the team at Université de Rennes is now recommending equine owners listen out for snorts as a reliable indication of their horse's state of mind.
Published in the journal 'PLOS One', the study clears up long-standing confusion among experts, many of whom have argued the snort signified nothing more than a hygiene response to unclean nostrils. (© Daily Telegraph, London)