Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Horse intelligence

I just thought I would share this interesting article with my readers: Understanding Horse Intelligence. It's a few years old, but it's a great article.

For most of us who work with horses, none of this will come as a surprise. We all know that horses think and learn. It still surprises me, though, that some people believe horses have no cognitive abilities, that all they are capable of is instinct and conditioned responses. Like I said, anyone who has spent time with horses — and truly paid attention — knows that is not true!

Another part of the article that I found interesting is where it debunks the myth that horses "can't transfer information from one eye to the other." Research actually indicates otherwise. Most likely horses are just startled when an object looks different from another angle. We all know that they are easily startled by anything looking different, even something so simple as a trash can being in a different place, so this explanation actually makes perfect sense.

I personally think horses are incredibly smart creatures. They learn incredibly quickly, if you think about it; they are able to learn and respond to our language and our commands; and they can even learn to overcome some pretty powerful instincts that hundreds of years of evolution has instilled in them. Moreover, I've seen plenty that indicates they have a sense of self — they can imagine what they look like to someone else — which is generally considered to be a pretty advanced cognitive skill!

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