Saturday, 20 December 2008

Friend or foal?

The brain works in mysterious ways. Why is it that when you're at your most tired, your brain can sometimes decide it wants to stay switched on and run through all your thoughts and anxieties like a toddler rifling through a card-index system?

I woke up about ten past six this morning and put the radio on to see if I could drift off with a bit off background noise...Radio 2 was still tuned in from the God's Jukebox show but early morning Radio 2 has never been a favourite of mine, some bloke I can't even be bothered to Google wittering on about how dreadful the Christmas shopping crowds would be today. Really? Well there's a shocker...

Radio Scotland it was then for the ever-informative and strangely comforting Out of Doors. Always entertaining and, as I said, a great source of "well I never..." type items. Today's scoop: horses 'whinnies' are recognisable by other horses. Aside from the comedy use of the word 'whinnies,' this I suppose, should have been fairly self explanatory; horses - herd animals by nature - recognise their friend's voice. So far, so straightforward.

To the good bit: researchers at Sussex University have discovered, using the most incredibly complex scientific methods (leading horses behind a screen!) that horses expect to see a particular horse when they hear its 'voice'. When the Sussex team played Trigger (for want of a better horse name) a recording of Dobbin (ditto), Trigger's not insubstantial ears would prick up. When the men in white coats then led in - from behind that screen - Mister Ed, Trigger would look decidedly confused and stare, in the way humans do, for just a little bit longer than might be considered polite, before raising the equine equivalent of an eyebrow.

How much would people pay to see that? A confused cuddy, a discombobulated donkey. Brilliant. The researchers didn't say whether if it was a matching voice/horse pairing, the two would greet each other warmly by shaking their manes and scraping their hooves. There must be a paper in that. I think we should be told...

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