Horse intelligence: what do you look for? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Horse intelligence: what do you look for?

Many people tell us that their horses are intelligent. Yet, how can this be assumed? It is pertinent to look at a horse as a horse and not as a human. However, I still believe one can guess that a horse is of above average equine intelligence by observing a few factors, such as:

-comprehends lessons/training easily. The horse learns at a faster rate.

-horse is more sensitive to the cues of its handler. If the handler is angry, the horse will be angry. If the handler is willing, the horse will be willing. Even if the handler was previously deemed the leader, the horse will begin to question that role quickly if the handler isn't up to par.

-when in turn out, the horse walks around exploring by sniffing, touching, and looking. The horse is not running around nervously or standing quietly and napping, the horse is interested in its environment.

-horse is playful, enjoys toys.

-horse gets bored easily and requires more variety in work than an average horse.

Your thoughts?

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are certain and the intelligent are full of doubt"
-Bertrand Russel
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:36 PM
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You pretty much just described Zeus, ha ha.

Especially this part:
Quote:
-horse is more sensitive to the cues of its handler. If the handler is angry, the horse will be angry. If the handler is willing, the horse will be willing. Even if the handler was previously deemed the leader, the horse will begin to question that role quickly if the handler isn't up to par.
I was actually just talking about this today with my BO. Zu is so so so sensitive to what mood you're in, and is always fine being handled by people who know what they're doing, but will sense immediately when someone is not and will walk all over them. I always say he has amazing ground manners, because for me, that's always to way he is. But when you haven't earned his trust or respect yet he will test and test, to see if you're up to par.He tests me too every day, but once you establish who's in charge he's wonderful. (And that can be as simple as a small verbal reprimand.)

Just interesting. I tend to think Zeus is a pretty smart animal. And I'm not "blinded" because he's my horse either. I've had some pretty thick horses, and was fine with admitting it. It's a blessing and a curse when they're smart, ha ha.

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
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post #3 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:38 PM
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Hmm i think that is very interesting and i agree. I'm interested to see what other ideas people have. But when you said about the exploring its environment it made me think of my one gelding and mare. He learned if he stands on his hind legs he can get the leaves higher up and then daisey my mare learned that if you grab the leaves when sonny pulls the branch down, you get the leaves without the work! Haha : P
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:39 PM
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I have heard a lot of people call horses stupid, i have seen a lot of stupid horses, but i dont get how people can compare humans to horses, or human feelings to horses. my definition of a smart horse is one that remembers, if one thing hurt them, they dont do that again because it hurt, they dont jump and shy at things theyve been around their whole lives. and most of all, you can SEE them thinking, or at least notice that SOMETHING is going on in their head! lol there was a horse at the barn that one second nothing would be going on in his head, and then all of a sudden he would rear up, THATS what i call stupid, or crazy, either way to put it ;)

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:40 PM
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Personally an intelligent horse to me is a horse that reacts appropriately to new situations and is aware of their surroundings. Horses that when they see a new obstacle on a trail ride or lesson, they investigate. Another sign I think makes a horse intelligent is that they are aware of what is going on and ready to confront anything, but they are still listening to their rider/handler.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 10:49 PM
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I've always heard a horse doesn't even grow a brain till they're 12 years old
Beside that, I like a horse that will look at me, stays aware of its surroundings and doesn't space off. One that can learn a few simple verbal cues.
Pretty much everything Gidji said.
My dog will always be smarter than my horse but my horse will always be smarter than my chickens. I will always be the dumb one who feeds them


"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-13-2010, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vidaloco View Post
I've always heard a horse doesn't even grow a brain till they're 12 years old

My dog will always be smarter than my horse but my horse will always be smarter than my chickens. I will always be the dumb one who feeds them
hahaha i love that! exceot my horse is ten...... haha i think theyre brains dont come in until 8 XD

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
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post #8 of 12 Old 03-15-2010, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roro View Post
Many people tell us that their horses are intelligent. Yet, how can this be assumed? It is pertinent to look at a horse as a horse and not as a human. However, I still believe one can guess that a horse is of above average equine intelligence by observing a few factors, such as:

-comprehends lessons/training easily. The horse learns at a faster rate.

-horse is more sensitive to the cues of its handler. If the handler is angry, the horse will be angry. If the handler is willing, the horse will be willing. Even if the handler was previously deemed the leader, the horse will begin to question that role quickly if the handler isn't up to par.

-when in turn out, the horse walks around exploring by sniffing, touching, and looking. The horse is not running around nervously or standing quietly and napping, the horse is interested in its environment.

-horse is playful, enjoys toys.

-horse gets bored easily and requires more variety in work than an average horse.

Your thoughts?
There is a 5 y/o Anglo-Arab gelding where I board my mare at, and he's everything you've described as an intelligent horse. He has a very unique personality. Always interested in what you're doing. It's nearly impossible for him to be in a stall for more than a few hours. He actually figured out that if he paws at the door long enough, the stall door latch will eventually flip up and he can use his nose to push the stall door open. We actually hid in a stall across from him once to watch him do this! I think he's very smart, and this causes him to get bored easily. While his friends are busy finding hay scraps, he's busy trying to unlatch the gate. lol He loves toys of any kind. He's also a pro at taking every other horses halter off.

A 'stupid' horse to me, is one that seems to always have his head in the clouds. There's a horse that I know that every time you feed him he flips his bucket over, and all his grain scatters in the dirt. And if you're not careful where you place his bucket, he'll flip it in a pile of mud, a puddle of water, etc. Soon I begin to wonder if he realizes that he's been eating mud for the last few minutes.


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post #9 of 12 Old 03-16-2010, 01:44 AM
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One day, my trainer unintentionally gave an intelligence test to her horse, Lex, and the horse she trains, Griffin. They were stalls next to each other at a horse show and had their head sticking out of their stall doors while she went to get their hay. She opened the feeder doors, which were on the opposite side of the stall and throws in the hay.
Lex backs up, pets his head back in the stall and walks over to his hay.
Griffin spends the next five minutes trying to reach around the stall to get to the feeder. Eventually my trainer realizes that he is not going to figure it out anytime soon, pushes Griffin back and shows him how to get the hay.

Although all of us at the barn agree that Griffin is "not all there" in the head, he matches at least three or four of the points roro listed.

Just something to think about. ;)
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-16-2010, 03:57 AM
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Totally agree with the list you posted..can't really add much to that!
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