The EquiFACS manual lists the identified facial movements of horses, accompanied by a description of the appearance changes and video illustrations. Each action is denoted by a numerical code. Where necessary, the proposed muscular basis of the movements are also given and there are also sections on subtle differences between similar actions.


The EquiFACS Manual (and the EquiFACS Test) are freely available for all to access and use. If you are interested in becoming a certified EquiFACS coder all of the information you should require for training is contained within the manual.


When training to use EquiFACS, begin by reviewing these descriptions and video examples. Initially, it might seem impossible to distinguish the facial movements, but just take time to review and reflect on the manual. When watching the video examples identify: the parts of the face that have moved and the direction of their movement; any wrinkles that have appeared or deepened; and the alterations in the shape and outline of the face. If you are struggling with particular actions or feel you need more video examples then please contact the EquiFACS team.



EquiFACS is a standardised system that requires certification to use. To gain this certification you need to take a test after training. This ensures that all users are coding in the same way, and so maintains the reliability of the system.

To access the EquiFACS Test clips please contact Jen Wathan. We keep a record of who is using the system so we can maintain standardisation.

Please note that you are encouraged to use the manual as a reference guide when coding the test clips (and when using EquiFACS in future). You are not expected to be able to code all the actions from memory. Also, you can attempt the EquiFACS Test several times.

How to use EquiFACS


After becoming EquiFACS certified, you will be able to reliably code facial movements in videos and photographs of horses. EquiFACS can be then applied to document behaviour and investigate questions about communication and emotion in horses, through the analyses of their facial behaviour. Depending on your questions, you may find that you only wish to look for a sub-section of the facial expressions, focus on the presence or absence of certain movements, or record in detail the exact number of times a facial action is performed. EquiFACS can be used in all these ways, and is designed to be a flexible tool to suit your specific needs.


When recording behaviour, high quality close-ups of the face are ideal, and should be compared with the neutral face of each horse to account for individual variation. Depending on the purpose of coding, two or more cameras may be used in synchrony (e.g. one camera zoomed in on the face and other camera recording body and context behaviours).


Department of Psychology

University of Sussex