Are Horses Intelligent Animals

Bob Roberts
• Friday, 27 November, 2020
• 26 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.

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.

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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.

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. 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.

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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. In fact, until only fairly recently, “anyone who ascribed an underlying emotion to an animal’s behavior was simply being anthropomorphic, projecting human feelings onto what were merely ‘dumb animals,’” observes Dr. Nicholas H. Rodman, a veterinary behaviorist writing in Veterinary Practice News online.

“The extreme behaviorist’s view that animals behavior is to be observed and measured but not interpreted prevailed through much of the last century.” In September 2003, Horsehide published a feature titled, “Do Horses Have Emotions?” Experts quoted in the piece argued the proposition both ways, with one even suggesting a mare’s distress at having her foal taken away could be just a stimulus response rather than proof of an emotional bond.

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.

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In this 2016 study, Norwegian researchers trained 22 horses representing various breeds to understand symbols painted on white wooden boards. Then, under varying weather conditions, the horses were asked to select which action they wanted…and here’s where it got fascinating.

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.

• “Can Horses Read Our Minds?,” with science writer Stephen Budiansky at The Thinking Rider blog. 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.

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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. I am not saying that if they have a larger brain that doesn’t mean they are the most intelligent one but elephants are also one of the intelligent animals in the world.

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. 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. Squirrels are capable of locating food buried beneath a foot of snow.

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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. 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.

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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. Talking about the appearance, they have a large head with strong jaws and narrow waists.

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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.

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.

The bad news is that they both the species are critically endangered because of the poaching and loss of habitat. It can grow unto 3.5-4.5 feet tall and weighs approximately 110-200 pounds.

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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. 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.

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A horse may have qualities that make them more suitable for a certain sport but that doesn't mean it likes it more. 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. It may look like sitting but riders use their legs, arms, weight, hands, balance, and brains to ride.

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Humans are proven to be the most intelligent species of animals on Earth. Humans' colors vary from almost pepper black to milky white.

There are many “dumb” humans, and many animals who are genius for their species. If we are comparing the average intelligence of each specie, humans are smarter than all.

I am concerned for those who say that a dolphin could invent a car or nuclear bomb. We wouldn't have made so many scientific discoveries, developed so many weapons, and eliminated so many species and ecosystems. I agree that we have many problems and act stupid in places.

Ways humans are more intelligent than any other animals ; Capability to learn mathematics, language, built structures, create working systems of economies. We create innovations every day that further improve their race.

The extent of our power to modify the world around us shows how comparatively more meticulous and knowledgeable we are. I would go even farther to say more importantly, that no other animal has created systems of morality and ethics, developing philosophies based around our advanced enlightened perceptions possessed by no other.

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Even if you think that humans aren't number one, there are chimps which are way smarter than dolphins. They can understand numerical systems, have better short term memory than humans, and can even be taught to use a computer.

Did you know that somebody taught a dolphin how to count and speak English (Not very well but still.) If dolphins were land animals with and legs, they would make lots of stuff.

Billions of new car companies would be around, and humans would have roommates who are not their species. They have been known to open locks, understand numbers, have better short term memory than humans, use tools, and have the IQ of a 3-year-old human child.

DOGS are smart and the reason they are higher than many animals and not closely related to the human like chimps is because they are easy to train. People think they are so “clever” because they can learn tricks.

All the other animals on this list can learn tricks too and can do way more. A lady taught them sign language, so you could communicate with them.

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5 Parrot Parrots, also known as psittacosis, are birds of the roughly 393 species in 92 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The most intelligent and smart animal in Earth is Parrot...

They are way more intelligent than Dolphins, Chimpanzees, monkeys and dogs can ever be. Parrots know how to talk not only in their way but in any language you can throw.

I've seen a documentary where they say that cats are 10 times better in problem solving that dogs. I guess the haters going to hate.

Some random guy: Survive human attacks, poachers and our constant need to destroy their habitat... Me: Huh, sadly true, as they are endangered and poachers are still continuing to hunt it...

Guy; Uh, dogs, cats... HHH... blobfish? Elephants are the ONLY animals that can understand a human pointing without any training.

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Most of the animals here can't even compare to the intelligence of an elephant. Elephants strike the top spot in all intelligence: cunning, creativity, thinking, & emotion.

Few other animals hit all these categories & even fewer, maybe none at all, beat the elephant. It has two eyes and four pairs of arms and, like other cephalopods, it is bilaterally symmetric.

Pigs include the domestic pig and its ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar, along with other species; related creatures outside the genus include the peccary, the babies, and the warthog. They are actually pretty smart, but with all those insults about pigs going around it's hard to think that.

Pigs are actually smarter than dogs you can just look at the top 10 smartest animals there you go Estimated Average IQ: 82Koko is an extremely smart gorilla.

Yes Dogs are good loved pets and yes parrots are definitely smart but that monkey of mine put them all to shame... Monkey is smarter than dog, cat, dolphin, parrot put together and numerous experiments, researches and just real life proved that.

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I love dogs, cats and dolphins much more than monkeys but I'm not delusional person The way they figure out climbing trees is amazing.

Maybe one year they will be able to climb the Monkey Puzzle tree. 12 Whale If orcas were smarter than us they would see us as a threat in the wild.

Is this a joke, killer whales are by far the smartest creature in the sea, in my opinion. Incredibly intelligent, just like dolphins, only with much more brain capacity.

They are the smartest creature and are proven to be smarter than humans they so should be first These birds have been found sing tools to lure out food and solving puzzles that might involve their lives and these Birds have been found to be as smart as 7-Year-old human children making them the smartest animals on earth so think about seeing the world's the smartest animal every day and admire these beauties, the Crow.

Unbelievable smart, in science the number five most intelligent animal after Chimps, Dolphins, Elephants and Orange Outings, humans not included. Crows can remember peoples faces, and when they can't open a nut they put it on a road, wait for a car to drive over it, and break it, then they eat the nut.

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They recognize and remember faces, use cars to crack open nuts, and use tools to solve puzzles! It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equine, and can be tamed, bred, and trained, as a mount.

Not only do they have an AMAZING memory, but they can understand signals when are told. Honestly, I think in some ways horses are smarter than humans.

If they really wanted to hurt you they would do it, but they are smart enough to get in harmony with humans. They actually decide a leader in the herd by who is the smartest and wisest.

Ra coons are very smart they even use sticks and twigs as tools 16 Fox Foxes are small to medium-sized animals and belong to the Candidate family along with other animals such as jackals, wolves, and domestic dogs.

There are 37 species of fox but only 12 are considered true Rules. A foxes main prey are birds, fish, berries, insects, and rabbits.

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Their super smart even in real life not just books Estimated Average IQ: 70A fox is known to be a smart and cunning animal.

Rats are in almost every scientific top 10 about intelligence, so they are really among smartest animals. But scientists know they are way smarter than cats and dogs.

Estimated Average IQ: 65Is somewhat smart, and tends to be in the Top 20 smartest animals The two main groups are the Cervical, including the mental, the fallow deer and the coital, and the Carolina, including the elk, reindeer, the Western roe deer, and the Eurasian elk.

Estimated Average IQ: 15Dumbest animal on the list They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galápagos penguin, found north of the equator.

24 Mice A mouse is a small rodent characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail and a high breeding rate. Some people will find it hard to relate intelligence with animals, but that is a misconception and nothing else.

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Though scientifically there is hardly any match with human brain and animal brain and hardly there is match between the intelligence but for sure animals are also very intelligent and that can be easily proved by their activities. Even in some cases, animals are smarter in performing than the humans.

So don’t ever think that we humans are always in the top position in terms of intelligence. Their brain structure is completely different from the other invertebrates in the ocean and has some complex features almost similar to the humans.

Spiders: It is among one of the smallest creatures to have such an intelligence level. Especially the White-Mustached Portia Spiders are known to have special learning skills.

Ants: Though they are very small, but are known for their intelligence. Ants can withstand calamities that would wipe out another species.

Even studies show that baboons can feel their own stress, and they can create complex social systems and can think critically when confronted with difficult situations. They can easily learn complicated new skills and also can understand the surroundings in a better way than the other animals.

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Pigeons: Some of us have heard about the intelligence of pigeons but to say it frankly they are wonderful at geolocation features. That’s the probable reason they were used in the battlefields in ancient times.

They also have amazing ability to remember people and places throughout their life. They can solve complicated problems and easily adapt to tough situations.

You can easily understand by following the way they collect their food. For example, they can identify when a fellow sheep is missing in the flock.

Apart from these, they also have a wide range of emotions and response to various things going on around them. Raccoons are capable of forming complex social relationships and can also make use of complex tools while solving problems.

They can respond to complicated commands quickly even under stress. Rhesus Monkeys: They are known for displaying suicidal tendencies and well planned attacks in groups.

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It’s quite better to say that rhesus monkeys are resourceful and extremely smart. Their ability to follow commands and remember territory is really formidable.

They have a long term memories and are excellent when it comes to adapt with changing situations. Owls: Compared to other intelligent birds, they may be a bit less intelligent but actually from very ancient times, owls are seen as intelligent animals by the Greeks.

Though they are not as trainable as dogs, but they can easily learn new skills. They use their brains to create complex social interactions and even seem to model things such as empathy.

They are highly skilled hunters who use well-developed strategies while hunting. But in general they learn quick skills very easily and respond to human training.

Like others in this list, they also have the ability to solve out complex problems. Dolphins can be highly trained by the humans, and they also respond well to it.

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They know how to adapt with various environmental situations because they have the ability to learn new skills easily. They can easily manipulate their environment and can use various tools to help the community.

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