Blackmore, T. L., Foster, T. M., Sumpter, C. E., & Temple, W. (2008). An investigation of colour discrimination with horses (Equus caballus). Behavioural Processes, 78(3), 387-396.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8332
The ability of four horses (Equus caballus) to discriminate coloured (three shades of blue, green, red, and yellow) from grey (neutral density) stimuli, produced by back projected lighting filters, was investigated in a two response forced-choice procedure. Pushes of the lever in front of a coloured screen were occasionally reinforced, pushes of the lever in front of a grey screen were never reinforced. Each colour shade was randomly paired with a grey that was brighter, one that was dimmer, and one that approximately matched the colour in terms of brightness. Each horse experienced the colours in a different order, a new colour was started after 85% correct responses over five consecutive sessions or if accuracy showed no trend over sessions. All horses reached the 85% correct with blue versus grey, three horses did so with both yellow and green versus grey. All were above chance with red versus grey but none reached criterion. Further analysis showed the wavelengths of the green stimuli used overlapped with the yellow. The results are consistent with histological and behavioural studies that suggest that horses are dichromatic. They differ from some earlier data in that they indicate horses can discriminate yellow and blue, but that they may have deficiencies in discriminating red and green.