Why are horses curious? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Why are horses curious?

This is something I've wondered for a while: why are horses curious?

I can understand being curious about things that might be food (grass, weeds, shrubs, trees), and I can understand a sort of cautious curiosity about things that might be predators (large dogs, plastic bags, etc.), but I wonder why horses are curious about so many things. For instance, one time my Pony followed a turtle all the way across a pasture, just because he seemed to be curious about it. He will investigate anything new. I'm not seeing the evolutionary advantages of being curious about, e.g., a turtle -- once you determine that it can't eat you, and you can't eat it, then why waste energy on it?

I would like to be clear that I love how curious he is (all three of them are curious, but him more than the other two), and I think I once heard someone describe a horse's curiosity as "a gift," but ... why should a horse be like that? What advantage does this sort of curiosity give a horse?

Any thoughts? Or anyone want to share a story about their horse's curiosity?
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 03:50 PM
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I first saw this when one of my horses color reports came back. They do all sorts of testing and give you most of the results. I'll copy the link to the article and my horse's results. He approaches with caution and is always on his toes. His daughter I suspect got a double dose of Curiosity as she is always taking her time to explore and has no hesitation about close contact with NEW but her brother I think got a double of Vigilance as he is ready to run at the slightest provocation even if the NEW is a ways a way..
https://www.etalondx.com/temperament
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Last edited by QtrBel; 06-04-2020 at 04:00 PM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
I first saw this when one of my horses color reports came back. They do all sorts of testing and give you most of the results. I'll copy the link to the article and my horse's results.
https://www.etalondx.com/temperament
Am I reading that correctly? Gray horses are genetically more curious, and bay horses are genetically less curious?

It's hurting my brain to think of curiosity linked to color.

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post #4 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 04:07 PM
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No they just included it with his report. I had to supply a test that showed he was negative on the 6 panel as a stallion. The color report was a free add on and then they included this with everything else as a bonus I guess. They just have confusing letter attachments since they use the DNA 4 letter alphabet to mark locations. No relation to color at all. Though the stallion is bay (red body) the daughter is bay (darkest possible phenotype - seal) and the son is palomino.




Maybe this can help explain - (from Genetic Code)
Genetic Code is stored on one of the two strands of a DNA molecules as a linear, non-overlapping sequence of the nitrogenous bases Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C) and Thymine (T). These are the "alphabet" of letters that are used to write the "code words".
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 04:34 PM
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If you hind horses are curious - watch cows!
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 04:43 PM
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Humans are curious. Think that's an evolutionary advantage to us? I think curiosity is ubiquitous among the more intelligent animals, from dolphins and octopi to ravens and cows. It is how learning happens -- by engaging with one's environment.

Also remember that evolution has a very large component of luck to it. For example there were at one time some dozen species of horse in North America, but a rapidly changing environment eliminated all of them (along with many other species). There were no horses in North America again until they arrived from Europe in the 16th century. They were perfectly adapted until they weren't. Evolution is more complicated and strange than most laypeople think.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-04-2020, 07:07 PM
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I think more than color, it seems to run in families.

Anybody that has come from Goldie X Skippy = Curious as a cat, very friendly to humans,

Dolly X Skippy = Curious and super human friendly,

Boo X Skippy = HUGE, loving and friendly to humans but more vigilant.

Goldie & Mort are the horses I say were Siamese cats in another life, scared of NOTHING and want to stick their noses into everything. Mort especially liked to grab stuff most horses were terrified of (tarps, feed sacks) and flap them around and chase his pasture mates. Goldie (buckskin), Mort (cremello), Skippy (cremello).

Dolly (bay), Boudreaux (palomino), both are very lovey and curious. They love to meet you in the pasture for scratches and will follow you around just to see what's up.

Boo (Chestnut), Beaux (chestnut), Twoey (chestnut), Ducati (palomino), and Kokopelli (Joker) (palomino), very sweet natured but more vigilant.

I've got Boo, Goldie & Dolly all 3 back in foal to Skippy this year, be fun to see if it all holds true.

Oh and I did do Patti (HZ black Tobi) X Skippy and got Chippy (smokey Black tobi) who was very friendly and human oriented right from the minute she hit the ground. Lots of fun to work with as a baby. She left here when she was weaned, and went to the west coast, so haven't seen what she was like to get under saddle. I suspect pretty darn easy. Patti was and so was her previous foal, Harley by RA Hot Every Night. Super easy to handle, but Patti is my SUPER fave mare, so haven't used her as a broodie much.
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