Horse Behavior and Intelligence, Examples of and Articles about

I tried starting this topic with an explanatory post, but it wouldn't post. This is a new try.


  • VA_in_CAVA_in_CA Member
    edited October 2014
    Okay. Here's another attempt at explaining what this is all about. Wish I hadn't lost the original. The draft was saved, but it disappeared.

    I thought it would be good to have this topic to share experiences we have had or read about of examples of behaviors by horses that illustrate their intelligence. Links to articles on this topic can be included.

    Here is an article I came across in The Horse that illustrates just this thing, but it wasn't intended as such. Horses were trained to show preferential choices and they were able to do just that, a behavior which when shown in apes and chimpanzees was greeted with amazement. I think the horses displayed the same sophistication in thinking and being able to express their personal preferences. Fascinating reading.

    Wish my original post hadn't gotten lost; it was expressed much better. Sigh.
  • Interesting article! Thank you for finding and sharing it. To many people horses stand right in line with being thought of as dumb animals, merely beasts of burden, but I believe they are much, much smarter than we give them credit for. I tend to get carried away to anthropomorphizing too much, but we are the ones who need to learn how to communicate and understand them. I would love to see a study done on how horses communicate with one another in their herds because it is so fascinating when I get to have time to watch the horses at the barn where we board. Thanks for starting this topic!
  • Thanks for this wonderful article about horse intelligence! Others might have missed the article that I posted in Amazing True Horse Stories that somewhat provided an example of horse intelligence in terms of "Compassion" entitled: A DAUGHTER'S BID GOODBYE TO HER MOTHER":
    You have to scroll down towards the lower half of the page to see this article.
  • Hopefully this is what you had in mind with this thread (if not I apologize!) My favorite lesson horse from back in the day would love to have his gums rubbed - he would greet people by flipping his lip up - most people took this as an attempt to bite but the silly horse didn't have a mean bone in his body - just wanted them to rub his gums! He would literally fall asleep with his head in your hands if you did it for long enough :)
  • Well, I guess it shows that he was a lot smarter than the people who thought he was going to bite--LOL--so it's okay. What a weird horse. Sorry, it just seems weird to me to enjoy gum rubbing. hahaha
  • edited October 2014
    Some horses like their tongues held or stroked, too.

    Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'll post it anyway. This is a video showing the progress of an OTTB as he becomes a four-star eventer. His rider/trainer talks a lot about his intelligence and awareness of his surroundings.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited October 2014
    Didn't Casadaly, who got a chance to visit Galileo at Coolmore in Ireland last year say that she was allowed the opportunity to stroke Galileo's gums(?). She said that Galileo loved having his gums rubbed. I believe she mentioned that in the blog side of this website. I maybe wrong...but I did remember she got to rub one of the stallion's gums while at Coolmore.

    Sorry, slightly off topic but on topic with parts that horses love to have us humans touch.
  • LOL. That's funny. I don't have such a good short-term memory any more, so had forgotten that.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited January 2015
    I thought I'd pull up this earlier thread if anyone has an interesting discussion about horse behavior. Recently, I liked Rachel's posting about Kudos, the next door neighbor buddy of Silver Charm at Old Friends who "figured out that being near Silver Charm meant more carrots from the fans." (from the thread Silver Charm on 1/24/15 refer to image link of Silver Charm & Kudos by Laura Battles on page 2).
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited February 2016
    In the discussion, General Interest News Items on 2/12/16 (page 169): There was mention that horses are able to recognize human emotions and in particular, used their left eye to decipher the visual expression for anger in humans...I thought this thread was the most appropriate to post and archive the study and its related videos. :oD

    Inset Video by Victoria Gill
    Science reporter, BBC News

    If you have problems watching the video inset from the above link,
    then this is a shorter version posted by ODN
    Video from ODN uploaded on 2/10/2016 via YouTube.

    On the other side of the spectrum...An in-depth scientific abstract from a CCN link "Why The Long Face?" with anatomical overviews of the horse's facial and other anatomical muscles used in equine expressions along with short video clip examples, etc.:

    A list of related articles from other sources from
  • Horses are cool.
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