Do horses individually think in horse herd dynamics?
We are also curious about whether horses “thought” about anything other then a flake of hay. More than that, we were interested in what it means to think when you are a horse. Do they scheme, plan, organize, or engage in any of those more complex thinking & communication activities? Or, do horses act as individuals when it comes to horse herd dynamics.
We couldn’t really know. Horse herd dynamics are complicated. But we did see the strangest thing not too long ago when it started to rain after a long dry spell.
Our crazy horses, in a somewhat organized fashion, left the back pasture, wandered (en masse) down to the arena, and proceeded to let loose. Mind you, this is no straight forward effort. The entrance to the arena, though it adjoins the back pasture, does not benefit from a direct connection. The horses had to stop what they were doing (eating), group up, and rapidly wander down to the arena in order to cut loose as the pictures here show. Horse herd dynamics here indeed. Mind you, it had just began to rain when they all magically arrived within the arena. They showed up in the arena very rapidly.
We were so surprised by the size and location of this carefree exhibition that we pulled the camera out to capture it.
It is not uncommon for cooler temperatures and a little rain to spin the horses up. But they chose the arena for this playfulness. Why? Sure, the footing is softer. But it really seems they had to be premeditated and organized to do it the way they did. They came and let loose together.
They had to first “think” that they wanted to run about as the rain begun to fall. Then, it seems, one of the horses had to say to the others, “hey fellers, if we’re going to jump and kick about, it would make a lot more sense to do in the arena. The ground is much softer there. And Wally, you can use the mud there to make a filthy spectacle of your yourself. What do you think? Last one there is a rotten egg!”
Many horse owners will give their horses credit for being very perceptive. But thinking … that’s a stretch. We however, do see some of our horses do the strangest things. I do not want to get caught assuming these critters are “dumb” just because they don’t verbalize like people do. I mean really. They may return the favor to me and assume I’m dumb just because I won’t shut up and listen.
So, I listen and observe.