I love horses, but I am not an equestrian, so I am fascinated by these tiny hats a lot of the Olympic horses are pictured wearing in Rio. I made it my mission to find out the reason behind the adorable headgear, and this is what I discovered.

No, the hats are not a fashion statement, they are called "ear bonnets" or "ear nets", and serve a very important purpose besides keeping flies off the horses' ears. They help to keep the horses calm by muffling sounds, and help keep cotton balls in place if extra sound muffling is needed for super sensitive horses.

 

JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

 

So, no. The teeny, tiny horse hats are not worn simply to fit in with the human equestrian fans who think fancy hats are a big deal when it comes to horse sports.

Impress your friends with that horse knowledge today, and go Team USA!