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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?
 

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You pretty much just described Zeus, ha ha.

Especially this part:
-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.
 

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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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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 ;)
 

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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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I've always heard a horse doesn't even grow a brain till they're 12 years old :lol:
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 ;-)
 

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I've always heard a horse doesn't even grow a brain till they're 12 years old :lol:

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
 

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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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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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Totally agree with the list you posted..can't really add much to that!
 

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My instructor told me my horse has the shortest attention span of any horse he has trained in 40 years...if getting bored easily is intelligence, Hoove is a genius!

Actually, he is a pretty smart boy. He can unlatch his stall and untie himself from a quick release knot. His latest amusement is zipping the zipper on my carhart up and down. He also picked up the "give kiss" command from the other horses. I never taught him, but now I can tap my lips and say "give kiss", and he brings his nose to my face for kisses. If I tap my cheek, he presses his nose against it. If he could just pay attention longer than five minutes, I could take him Jay Leno for tricks!

I'm not sure about the playing, tho. Gunner pays attention well, in a few rides figured out how to respond to a loose rein, is inquisitive and sensitive to moods, will investigate before running...but he just doesn't play. Nothing really seems to get him excited, even out with the other horses. Stuff that Hoove would be throwing or running around with just seems to bore him.
 

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I think the main thing that separates out intelligent horses from less intelligent ones are problem solving skills. All the horses I have known who I'd rate as bright were capable of looking at a problem, like how to get feed they wanted, and working out a way to get to it. One "test" I did once with a couple horses was put a carrot underneath a traffic cone while they watched, making it as clear as I could to them that the carrot was going under the cone.** One horse knocked over the cone with her nose and found the carrot. The other horse continued to mug me for treats and ignored the cone. Don't know what those results signify, but there you go.


**There may have been some experimenter bias here, since the horse who knocked over the cone was the horse who I regarded as the smarter horse and also happened to be my horse. That actually makes for a pretty rubbish experiment. LOL. For all I know I was giving imperceptible cues to her to knock over cone, c.f. Clever Hans. A better way to do this test would be to get someone who doesn't know the horses and therefore has no presuppositions about them.
 
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