Now this sounds like a fun scientific study…an animal behaviorist in Italy watched a YouTube video of a horse and dog playing together and noticed how in sync their play behaviors were to each other.
She asked her students to search for more videos of horses and dogs playing together so she could further study their behavior. What she found was very intriguing. Not only was their body language in sync, it turns out that the animals were also practicing facial mimicry.
An article on the study in National Geographic explains that the dogs and horses mirrored each other’s play behaviors, such as pretend-biting, jumping, chasing, and rolling on the ground. They also mirrored the same play face: “relaxed open-mouth display”—something you have probably seen in your own animals.
Animal behaviorists find these dog-horse play sessions so interesting because they show that two different species of greatly varying sizes can find a common play language and interact comfortably and safely.
Here is one of the videos National Geographic shared as an example: