Are Horses Intelligent

Maria Johnson
• Monday, 26 October, 2020
• 19 min read

Horse lovers have long believed that their trusty steeds are the smartest animals in the world, but skeptics would be doubtful. Horses are prey animals who have an ingrained flight response and will react to situations differently to a dog.

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So those stories of horses being over cuddly when their owners are upset or refusing to come over to you when you’re grumpy aren’t just coincidence, after all. All of these show that horses learn via conditioning, and that through trial and error they can figure out the correct response to a question or situation.

Horses are extremely intelligent, and their extra vigilance is just one of the many indicators that they are smarter than many of us realize. While some horses may cause you to question their intelligence at times, it is important to know that they are smart creatures.

They are not only able to learn how to respond to commands, horses are also able to recognize familiar people just by looking at their faces. On the contrary, horses are often studied in their own barns and familiar settings to get more accurate results.

This lessens anxiety and keeps the horse in its natural atmosphere, making the studies and experiments more reliable. Your horses will realize it is about time for you to visit long before you even walk out the door and head their way.

By comparison, the adult human brain is significantly larger than that of a horse, around 3.3 pounds or 1496 grams (source). A horse’s brain is rather small when compared to the size of its body, which often weighs more than 1,000 pounds (source).

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They will whinny, kick, bite, run at, stomp their feet, or snort to talk to and alert other horses in their herd. It is part of how they work to establish a herd hierarchy, especially when new horses are added to the mix.

They also communicate to warn the rest of the herd of coming storms, new horses, and even that their owner is trying to catch them (source). Horses can whinny, kick, and pin their ears back to communicate with you as well as even biting or nudging us to convey a message.

They argue that dogs can clearly learn more tricks and behave better than horses and therefore must be smarter. It is important to remember that if a horse lived in your house and spent most of their day with you, it, they would probably learn more and behave better as well.

Horses use their various senses to help them recognize their owners including visual cues, smells, and the sound of their voice (source). Horses are quick learners and get used to daily routines, so much so, they know when feeding time comes around (source).

Horses connect memories to emotions, eliciting positive or negative reactions years later (source). Horses are intelligent animals, and they understand a lot more than many people give them credit for.

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In the fall of 2016, I was gobsmacked by research out of Norway indicating horses could be trained to use symbols to communicate to their handlers, “put blanket on” and “take blanket off.” This seemed to indicate horses may have cognitive processes considerably beyond what we normally ascribe to them. Intrigued, I began keeping track of other recent research into equine intelligence, and what I learned about how smart horses may be been astonishing.

Whereas just 15 years ago scientists were still questioning whether horses (and other mammals) even experience emotions, research now seems to indicate equines may in fact have some same cognitive abilities as we do, only at a different level. Here, I’m going to share the latest research into equine cognition, including details of that compelling blanket-on/-off study.

René Descartes, the 17th-century French philosopher, believed animals were mindless machines that could neither reason nor feel pain. The work of the Russian Ivan Pavlov in the 19th century and American B. F. Skinner in the early 20th portrayed animals as merely reacting reflexively to their environment, or behaving only in response to positive or negative reinforcement.

Rodman says secondary emotions “require greater cognitive ability and acceptance that animals have ‘theory of mind,’” a concept that “implies self-awareness and the ability to understand that other individuals may possess information and agendas that are different from one’s own.” Current research seems to point in that direction, and toward a surprising range of cognitive abilities in general.

• Touch-screen use: “A horse’s-eye view: size and shape discrimination compared with other mammals,” November 2015, Biology Letters. In this 2016 study, Norwegian researchers trained 22 horses representing various breeds to understand symbols painted on white wooden boards.

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In reality, he couldn’t, but he was marvelously perceptive in picking up subconscious body-language cues from his owner, which tipped him off to the correct answer. Use of the computer-monitor system will enable further looks into the mind of the horse that are free from potential human “interference,” offering results with the greatest possible validity.

A 2016 study at the University of Sussex in England showed that horses can distinguish between smiling and frowning human faces. Twenty-eight horses were shown large photographs of a man’s face expressing either a positive or negative emotion.

The researchers also noted that horses themselves have many facial expressions that are similar to those of humans, which may’ve aided them in deciphering the emotions. Working with 30 horses, researchers found that the horses were more likely to approach a person in a submissive posture (slouched, arms and legs close to the body, relaxed knees) than in a dominant one (erect, arms and legs apart, chest expanded).

Evelyn Hang, MS, PhD, of the Equine Research Foundation in Autos, California (equine research.org), sums it up well. Research to date has just grazed this subject and it will take many more studies to figure out what occurs within the thought processes of our equine partners,” she says.

Before Helen Keller’s teacher found the key to unlocking two-way communication, the deaf and blind girl seemed barely more than a wild animal. Dogs detect illness and lead the blind, and horses memorize difficult dressage patterns and can sense incoming weather.

horses smart cavallo cheval intelligence equine testing facts understanding language body communicating horse sospesa ubriaco ivrea patente loger wurmkur evolution
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By assessing these capabilities, we can start to compare our equine friends to our tail-wagging canine family members. While most domestic dogs aren't responsible for finding their own meals, they're still considered predators in the hierarchy of the animal kingdom.

It's a lot easier to munch on grass than it is to take down a rabbit, and behaviorists generally agree that predators have a kind of intelligence that prey animals lack. As herd animals, horses are able to protect themselves from harm, and living within that tight-knit community also gives them a strong sense of emotional and social intelligence.

They form relationships with other horses within the herd, and studies show those connections also extend to humans. A horse named Clever Hans, for example, is revered as one of the smartest domestic animals of his time.

It was once believed that Hans, an Orlon Trotter horse, could do complex math and word problems. Hans responded by tapping his hoof eleven times and delivering the correct answer.

Hans responded to a person's involuntary body language to give the correct answer every time. When Hans was blindfolded or otherwise unable to see the person who asked, he would simply keep tapping his foot with no clues to give him the right answer.

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While Hans couldn't actually do math, he did show that horses have a kind of emotional intelligence that is seen in few other animal species. Another facet of measuring animal intelligence is how quickly they can learn a new skill and remember that newfound knowledge.

From the basic “sit” to more complex behaviors, we all know dogs are capable of learning countless skills. How quickly a dog or horse learns is related more to the trainer's skill and not the individual animal's intelligence.

While horses possess strong emotional intelligence and an intuition that's hard to beat, dogs learn new skills quickly and adapt well to life with humans. Both animals are capable of impressive cognitive abilities, and evidence shows both horses and dogs have their strengths and weaknesses.

But at the same time, a dog's abilities as a predator give them natural instincts that relate to overall intelligence. Riders usually develop meaningful relationships with their horses, which leads them to compare their intelligence to that of another human, dog, cat, or other pet.

They can sense when you are frustrated, angry, happy, excited, and sad. If you spend a lot of time with a particular horse, then eventually they will learn your smell, voice, and face.

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Various studies prove that horses are able to show people what they want once they are shown the signals. An example would include a horse staring at their feed bucket that is out of reach.

Once a positive outcome is achieved, the horse is likely to remember how they did it and repeat the action. Although your horse might spend a majority of their time grazing and relaxing, they are actually much more in tune to their surroundings than you might have guessed.

Written by Katherine Blockader There's no doubt about the mystique of horses. They seem to capture our imagination and are a symbol of strength and freedom.

There are a lot of traditions and lore around horses, and some information we hold onto may no longer be true. It's fun to think that your horse or pony likes doing the same thing you do.

When have you ever seen a horse run barrels, jump a course of jumps, or execute a perfect 20-meter circle spontaneously with no human prompting? A horse may have qualities that make them more suitable for a certain sport but that doesn't mean it likes it more.

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You both like a warm bed, the same kinds of food (to an extent), humans and dogs can survive by hunting, and both humans and dogs live in 'packs'. Horses are prey that hunters might like to eat, but they are herbivores and their social structure is quite different from dogs (and humans).

Although many people believe their horses are companion animals, they are not the same as dogs. Horses quickly sense which riders are clear communicators and make their cues irresistible.

But they don't carry on a conversation the way you sometimes see in the movies, with the constant stream of screams, squeals, and nickers. But it is really a complex structure of different materials including keratin, blood-rich tissue, and bone.

Wonderful riders make riding look easy. Watch racers or dressage riders and it seems the horse is going through the patterns on its own accord.

But the connection between brain size and intellectual capacity is generally true. Some scientists have raised questions whether size is the only indicator, or whether brain efficiency also plays a role.

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Additionally, some have concluded that size comparisons are most accurate within the same species (i.e., one study between men and women showed that men scored slightly higher on tests, perhaps due to the fact the male brain is slightly larger). The bottom line is that the jury is still out regarding the minute details of the science, but overall brain size is a good indicator of intelligence.

Often when assessing the intelligence of an animal, we project our own logic upon them and compare their reactions against our perception of how they should react. Humans are predators, and as a result we tend to be bolder and stand our ground.

Before being quick to dismiss the importance of mindset, keep in mind that even humanity cannot fully relate with each other. Although different cultures can learn to coexist and understand one another, it does require effort by both parties.

It's not a mark of stupidity; their reactions are guided by their individual mindset and makeup. They are incapable of knowing “why” they perform a specific action; it's purely instinctual.

Not surprisingly, most people that spit out that theory have not, in fact, worked with horses themselves. When an unexpected loud noise such as a gunshot rings through the air, most of us will duck or flinch before reason kicks in.

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During the course of training, generally they perform an act because they are asked, but that doesn't disprove the ability to reason. Yet no one would claim that a child is stupid or unable to reason simply because he yields to his parent's authority.

Horses, like cats or dogs, can show genuine loyalty, emotion and ability to reason. This fundamental truth expands to all areas of our life: mindset will typically dictate final results, not only with ourselves, but with others too.

Your eyes will be closed to the nature of a horse, and the underlying intelligence and emotions that guide them. You'll fail to recognize the impish glint in a horse's eye when he's toying with you.

To put it bluntly, you will fail to see the individuality of horses because you are walking with predefined blinders on. That is the point where true relationships are created… where a horse may do silly things just to make you laugh, or find harmless ways get your goat much like a mischievous child might.

Horses will never be able to speak our language, but don't underestimate their ability to have fun, express loyalty and contentment, and learn our ways. All it takes is for you to meet them halfway, but unfortunately a closed mind is incapable of accomplishing that.

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But if you understand that animals are not people and cannot be expected to be, and you carry an open mind while observing and interacting with them over a length of time, you might just come away with a different outlook regarding the intelligence of horses. There are many animals in the apes' family namely chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos.

If properly trained, they can even learn human’s language and the different words that we speak in our daily life. The different pan-species are now coming into the endangered species because of the human activities like poaching and habitat destruction.

The elephant gestation period is 22 months, highest among the and animals in the world. The proboscis is very helpful for them in breathing, lifting water and grasping objects.

Elephants have forgetting memory is one of the most common animal stereotypes in the world. One of the most common domestic animals in the world, Pigs are native to the Eurasian and African continents.

They also come in the omnivorous family that can eat a large variety of food as humans do. There are many studies that prove that the pigs can be as smart as a 3-year-old human baby because they have faced many problems and difficult situation.

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Wild pigs are also very intelligent as they grow plants in the nearby areas of their home and also help in the transportation of seeds. The small baby is very much aware of what the mother is saying in different sounds that show their intelligence since birth.

They are very much helpful to humans in solving different mysterious related to the oceans. They are also very much capable of showing different emotions like happiness, joy, and sorrow.

They are fond of eating fish and squid but many of them also like killer whales and seals. The Whales comes under eight families namely Balaenopteridae, Balaenidae, Cetotheriidae, Eschrichtiidae, Monodontidae, Physeteridae, and Kogiidae.

They are known to humans as the heaviest animal that can interact very well in groups but uses very complex sounds in order to communicate with each other. The social behavior of the groups and communication techniques used make them one of the intelligent animals in the world.

They also are known as the creatures of the open ocean because they feed, live to give birth and raise their young in the sea. Oceans have many aquatic animals especially fishes that have mind-blowing superpowers which help them to protect themselves from predators.

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They are fond of eating seeds, nuts, fruit, buds, and other plant material. They are also very much capable of solving complex problems that exist within their social network.

The population of the Parrots is decreasing very rapidly because of the hunting, deforestation and habitat loss. All types of parrot species have two things in common a curved beak, and zygodactyl feet.

They are very social and are also capable of showing different emotions like happiness, joy, and sorrow. According to the research, the average dog is as intelligent as 2 years old human baby.

The smelling power of dogs is so strong that they can differentiate between the million types of scents. Octopus belongs to the family invertebrates and in that they are the smartest and intelligent animal.

Octopuses have three hearts, two of them work exclusively to move blood beyond the animal’s gills, however, third keeps circulation flowing for the organs. They also change their body shapes and uses a different type of shells. Glass Octopus is one of the transparent animals on planet Earth.

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Squirrels are capable of locating food buried beneath a foot of snow. According to the studies, they use many tricks with their mind when they are searching for food and making the nest.

They have also identified human faces and very efficiently hide their food from other animals. The intelligence of a cat can be defined as its ability to solve problems and adapt to its environment.

Now, it has been approximately 4000 years when cats have been domesticated because they were valued for their hunting capabilities, companionship and loving behavior. One of the most popular pet in the UK and in the US, cats have 30 teeth and most of us must be aware of how sharp they are!.

One of the the smartest animals can run at a speed of up to 30 km per hour and the largest known cat breed in Australia is known as the Maine Coon where males can weigh unto 12kgs. Today, we have around 200 species of owls that live in different kind of terrestrial habitats that includes deserts, mountain areas, open grasslands and forests, however, they can also be seen near farms and villages.

The carnivorous animals love to eat rodents, small mammals, fish, birds and insects, but they did not chew food because they don't have teeth instead, if the prey is large they use there beak to tear the prey apart. The bird species have an excellent of hearing because ears are located on both sides of the head and behind the eyes.

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It is believed that the bird species appeared on the planet 8 to 24 million years ago and managed to adapt life in all circumstances. Horses being one of the smartest animals in the world have been domesticated for about 5,000 years in Central Asia.

Horses have an excellent sense of hearing thanks to the erect ears that can move in all directions. Horses are a very intelligent animal with an excellent memory and use it ears, eyes and nostrils to express its mood.

The species is also used in therapy of various mental disorders because of its ability to improve the psychological state of people with its calm nature and beauty. Also, horses have the biggest eyes of all the land mammals and can view 360 degrees.

The smaller relatives of bears mostly seen in South and North America, but they can be found in Asia and Europe also. One of the intelligent and smartest animals can reach 2 to 5 feet in length and weighs between 12-16 pounds but is observed that the Raccoons that live in colder climates are larger and heavier.

The animal species is omnivorous and likes to eat insects, eggs, small mammals, fruit, berries, seed, garbage etc. They are not hibernating animals, however, they love to spend the coldest days of winters in their burrows.

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Talking about the appearance, they have a large head with strong jaws and narrow waists. Ants have poor eyesight, and they usually communicate by the three things namely, sound, touch and chemical signals known as pheromones.

They can also be considered as one of the strongest animals in the world because it can carry 50 times greater of their own weight. One of the smartest animals' species Queen ants can survive up to 30 years.

There are approximately seven different species of sea lions, and they belong to the group of animals called “pinnies.” The male species of sea lions grow pretty bigger as compared to female ones. The species has numerous ways to communicate with each other, and they openly seen in travelling in large groups that can have subgroups.

Because of human activities in the ocean, the species is endangered, however, international laws have been made on illegal hunting of sea lions. Squid can be called as cephalopod with a thin and soft body with 10 arms.

The marine species can grow unto 65 feet in length and mostly prey on fish and crustaceans. One of the largest apes in the world is also popular as one of the smartest animals because of their ability to use different resources of forests, however, there are two types of orangutans, one named by the island of Indonesia known as Sumatran and Korean orangutans.

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The bad news is that they both the species are critically endangered because of the poaching and loss of habitat. It prefers trees to protect themselves from predators such as tigers or leopards that hunt on the ground.

The unique feature is that they reproduce slowly, and they produce 3 offspring in a lifetime. The bird species love to remain close to humans for approximately thousands of years.

Currently, there are over 300 different species of pigeons that can be seen across the globe except for the Sahara desert, Antarctica and Arctic. Because of their intelligence and beauty, they are often prepared as pets, however, there are many smartest species that are endangered because of habitat loss, predation and diseases.

The size of the bird grows depending on the species where large pigeon can reach unto 19 inches in length and weighs approximately 8.8 pounds. One of the intelligent and smartest animals can recognize themselves in the mirror and also they can find the same two people on two different pictures.

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1 roll20.net - https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Draft%20Horse
2 www.dndbeyond.com - https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/draft-horse
3 www.aidedd.org - https://www.aidedd.org/dnd/monstres.php
4 dnd5echaractersheet.com - https://dnd5echaractersheet.com/monsters/draft-horse/
5 www.dndbeyond.com - https://www.dndbeyond.com/equipment/draft-horse
6 wvcovenanthouse.org - https://wvcovenanthouse.org/blog/viewtopic.php
7 www.reddit.com - https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/bckv0n/whats_the_difference_between_a_draft_and_riding/