Horses Horses Horses! » Do horses think? http://equismarts.com For the love of horses Sat, 04 Aug 2012 03:29:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.1 Horse herd dynamics. Horses “decide” to play together during a sudden rainstorm. http://equismarts.com/2012/07/17/horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus http://equismarts.com/2012/07/17/horse-herd-dynamics-and-horse-consensus/#comments Tue, 17 Jul 2012 17:03:01 +0000 kennerranch http://equismarts.com/weblog/?p=115 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... Continue Reading »

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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.

, 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.

 

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Do horses remember you? Yes, I think they really do. http://equismarts.com/2012/07/02/do-horses-remember-you/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=do-horses-remember-you http://equismarts.com/2012/07/02/do-horses-remember-you/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 18:19:39 +0000 Heather http://equismarts.com/weblog/?p=24 Do horses remember you? Do horses think?  Do they remember us?  Just what do they think about and what do they remember?  I think that they remember more than we imagine they do. Horses have huge hearts. We ask them to do our bidding and expect them to participate in our own desires.  We establish relationships with... Continue Reading »

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Do horses remember you?  They often do.

The KENNER Ranch horse Tess peering around a tree as I photographed her.

Do horses remember you?

Do horses think?  Do they remember us?  Just what do they think about and what do they remember?  I think that they remember more than we imagine they do.

Horses have huge hearts. We ask them to do our bidding and expect them to participate in our own desires.  We establish relationships with them that can be dynamic and rewarding.  But do they last?  Do horses remember you?

Even after years off from work, a horse will still remember the cue to canter or the meaning of “whoa”.  They might need to be reminded, but the knowledge is there. But do they remember specific people after a long absence?

I had been back in horses for a year when a friend mentioned to me that she had seen my old horse for sale at a barn a few hours away.  Ziggy and I had formed quite a successful partnership in my teens.  He had been a best friend to me all through high school.  The bond had been there, but I did not know whether it had survived in the ensuing years.  My father and I set off the next day to visit our old buddy.

Walking down the barn aisle, I was disappointed not to see his familiar face looking out the barn door with eyes open and eager to greet a passerby.  Looking into the stall, I could see his dark, familiar shape in the dim light.  His head hung low like a three day old helium balloon.  When I softly called his name, he slowly turned his head and took a step towards the doorway.  He extended his head over the stall guard for a pat.  I reached out and petted his soft nose.  Although the shape was familiar, the vestiges of time had taken its toll. His body was skinny and his coat was greying and splotchy with a fungal infection, which left bare spots on a dull coat.

As I petted him, he raised his head to my shoulder and blew a warm breath across my neck.  Suddenly, he began to nuzzle his nose against my ear, twirling my hair against my cheek.  Amidst happy tears and laughter, he gave me a greeting like the old days.  Quick and deliberate he nipped me purposefully on the arm.  It was clear he was happy to see me, but I was chastened for being gone so long.

As I started to walk away down the barn aisle to talk to the trainer, we heard a loud snap.  Turning around, I saw Ziggy standing three feet out of his stall as though it had taken every ounce of energy to get there. His body looked spent, but the splintered wood was a testament to his determination.  He had broken through the stall gate with his shoulders in an attempt to follow us.

When I looked into his eyes, the message was clear: You had better take me with you.  You left me behind once before, you aren’t doing it again.  For me, the question whether Ziggy would remember me after so many years was answered. Horses do remember. The imprint they make upon our lives is returned in kind. As I put on his halter and went to talk to the man about a horse, I knew I would be bringing home an old friend.

 

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Are horses smart? Some horses think before they act! http://equismarts.com/2012/07/02/are-horses-smart-a-story-about-dancer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=are-horses-smart-a-story-about-dancer http://equismarts.com/2012/07/02/are-horses-smart-a-story-about-dancer/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 04:50:57 +0000 Kaki http://equismarts.com/weblog/?p=11 Are horses smart?  Maybe.  I think sometimes clever. Horses clearly think before they act.  Here is a recent example: It is summer now on the Ranch, and we have a bumper crop of rattlesnakes this year.  I was riding a young red roan quarter horse, Dancer, through the long dry grass of our meadow at a peaceful walk,... Continue Reading »

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Are horses smart?  Maybe.  I think sometimes clever.
Are horses Smart?  Dancer is one of the KENNER Ranch's cleverest.

Are horses Smart? Dancer is one of the KENNER Ranch’s cleverest.

Horses clearly think before they act.  Here is a recent example:

It is summer now on the , and we have a bumper crop of rattlesnakes this year.  I was riding a young red roan quarter horse, Dancer, through the long dry grass of our meadow at a peaceful walk, just the other day.   Suddenly, both he and I heard the faint but unmistakable rainstick sound of a rattlesnake.  It didn’t sound close, but rather a few dozen feet up the trail and off to the right.  I am not sure that the snake was even rattling at us.   It didn’t sound aggressive.  The sound came and went, as if the snake’s tail was simply rattling with its movement as it slithered along.  Nonetheless, Dancer’s head shot up and he stopped about as abruptly as a horse can plant its feet on the ground.   His ears zinged toward the rattling sound in the grass up ahead.  I couldn’t see the snake; it wasn’t on the trail itself.  I asked Dancer to walk forward, thinking that we could maybe walk along the trail and pass quietly by it, but his horse smarts warned him against moving anywhere near that rattling.  I then asked Dancer to turn off of the trail to the left, to walk around.  He nixed that idea too.  I sat on him, unable to move either forward or off to the left, listening to the on-again off-again rattle, and wondering just what I should do.  Finally,  I thought to myself, “Dang-it Dancer, I don’t want to put MY feet on the ground, but I guess now I’ve got too!”  I swung my leg over, and stepped down onto the trail next to my horse.  Slowly, carefully  I stepped off the trail and into the grass away from the direction of the snake. Tall grass.  Thick grass.  Ooooh, it was nerve wracking.  Are horses smart?  Hmmm.  Step by step, I started walking, making a big semi-circle around the rattling sound.  Each footfall was as carefully placed as you can imagine.  As soon as I stepped off of the trail, I felt something that made me smile, in spite of the tall grass and the hidden rattler.  A little warm breathe wafted onto my lower back, and I somehow felt the feather light presence of Dancer’s head.  It was so close behind me that sunlight probably couldn’t have sqeaked through.  He didn’t bump me at all, but as I took each wary step forward, he took a step right behind me.  I think that he was walking right in my footsteps.  He carefully shadowed me all through the long grass, until we re-connected with the dirt path, about a hundred feet up the trail.  Back on the path, and now downtrail from the rattler in the grass, I stopped and patted him on his neck for trusting me enough to walk through the grass behind me, and got back on.

Did Dancer think about the rattler in the grass, and where he should put his feet? I don”t know, but I do know that his reaction endeared him to me even more.  I will remember his warm presence at my back for a long time.  Are horses smart?  Oh what a smart  and endearing horse!

 

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