A tool for recording facial expressions in horses.
The Equine Facial Action Coding System (EquiFACS) is an observational tool for identifying and recording facial movements in horses. The system is based on the facial anatomy of horses and has been adapted from the original FACS system, which was developed to record human facial movements. EquiFACS provides a comprehensive list of all the facial movements that horses can produce, which can be used to document facial expressions across a wide range of contexts. The EquiFACS manual details how to use the system and code the facial movements of horses objectively and reliably. This has recently been published in the peer reviewed journal, PLOS One, and is freely available to all.
If you have any questions please contact Jen Wathan.
The original FACS was created for use with humans by Paul Ekman and his collegues in 1978, and then updated in 2002. Since then FACS has been successfully adapted for numerous other species, including chimpanzees, macaques, gibbons, and dogs. See publications page for details.
EquiFACS does not focus on expressions associated with a particular state or emotion but instead contains all the facial movements that horses can make (as established from the anatomy of the underlying facial muscles). This makes EquiFACS objective, reliable, and suitable for use in a wide range of settings. Additionally, the standardised nature of FACS means that direct comparisons can be made between any species for which FACS has been adapted. EquiFACS can therefore be used to investigate a range of research questions, or just to understand more about the facial expressions that horses can produce.
We love to hear about the ways in which people are using EquiFACS. So far we have heard of a huge variety applications, from veterinary research to art and film animation. Are you using EquiFACS? If so please contact us and tell us more!
Department of Psychology
University of Sussex