It doesn’t make a lot of sense to ask if a horse is smart. But I think we all have a slightly different idea of what it means to be smart, so we should probably start by agreeing on a basic definition of the word “smart” before we talk about it.
So you don’t have to read too much more to find out the answer, I’ll tell you now: Yes, horses are very smart mammals, and we will look at some research and testing on the subject.
The smartest horse ever
I’m not saying you should try to teach your horse the multiplication tables, but the fact that old Clever Hans could is pretty amazing. Hans the Math Wiz would tap his hooves to show the right answer to math problems because he was very good at reading how people moved.
Hans was very good at math, but he was also very smart when it came to colors, music, and even spelling.
What is the intelligence of Animals?
This question has been asked for hundreds of years, and there isn’t a single answer that everyone agrees on. Intelligence is a personal trait that can’t be measured in a concrete way.
But we might as well look at some of the most common ways that intelligence is described. These include being able to solve problems, knowing yourself, being able to talk to others, and having social intelligence.
Different animals do well in different things, of course. For example, primates are known for how socially intelligent they are, while dolphins are known for how well they can talk to each other. In fact, it depends on what you mean by “smart” when you talk about intelligence.
In the end, each person has to decide for themselves what they think makes an animal smart. Some people might say it’s being able to use tools, while others might say it’s understanding complicated ideas. As we learn and discover more about the world around us, our idea of intelligence is also changing.
Some facts about how smart horses are
Horses are known for being smart and able to solve problems. For example, they can learn complicated tasks quickly and keep them in mind for a long time. They are also known to be social animals that can form strong bonds with both people and other horses.
Because of this, they can work together as a team and cooperate with each other. For example, if a person is usually calm and gentle with horses, the horses will be calmer around that person. But if a person is more excited or loud around horses, the horse may be more nervous around that person.
Horses are also very sensitive animals that can sense how their people feel. They can tell when their owner is sad or happy and often try to make them feel better. Because they are so sensitive, they can also react differently to different people based on how those people treat them.
They can read our body language and facial expressions, and they often react in ways that tell us what they’re thinking or feeling. For example, if a horse is scared, it may lower its head and move away from what is scaring it. This shows that the horse trusts the person who takes care of it enough to talk to them openly.
Overall, horses are great animals with many special traits. Their intelligence and sensitivity make them great companions for people, and their ability to work together makes them useful in many situations.
Is it true that horses are that smart?
People think horses are one of the smartest animals on earth because they can learn quickly and remember things for a long time. They can also figure out how to solve problems and get what they want. A horse may know how to open a gate to get out of a pen or field, for example.
Horses also have a reputation for being very gentle. They don’t usually attack people or other animals, and they try to stay out of fights when they can. In fact, because they are so calm, horses are sometimes used as therapy animals. People who spend a lot of time with horses say that being around these beautiful animals makes them feel calmer and more at ease.
If a horse wasn’t wise or smart, none of the things that horses have come to stand for could be true. And scientists from all over the world have worked together on studies that will show how smart horses are.
The following four studies will tell us what a horse’s IQ is like:
Study #1: Horses use different signs to talk to each other.
In their 2016 study, Monamie Ringhofer and Associate Professor Shinya Yamamoto tried to find more evidence that horses may be open to signals and sensitive to how focused a person is.
The study looked at several horses and how well they could ask a person for help to get a treat. The test sounds like something a preschooler would do, but the two scientists were very creative in how they did it.
The results of their study “suggest that horses change how they talk to people based on how much they know about them.” If you think that sounds interesting, that’s great, because it is.
The scientists did two tests with a horse, a treat, and a person who cared for the horse. First, an assistant experimenter put a carrot in a bucket and put it in the paddock with eight thoroughbred horses.
In the first step, the caretaker had no idea where the assistant had put the carrots. In phase two, however, the caretaker saw the assistant put the carrots in the bucket.
The goal of the study was to see how the horse would act around its caretaker, and the results were very interesting. For example, the horses showed different signs, such as a light nudge or a look at the caretaker, who knew where the assistant had hidden the treat.
The signals were much stronger for the caretaker who didn’t know what was going on. In other words, the horses’ intelligence made them send more urgent warnings to the person who didn’t know something. This means that these smart animals can “flexibly change their behavior toward humans based on the knowledge state of humans.”
Study#2: Horses Can Tell Patterns Apart
Remember when you were in school and you had to tell the difference between different patterns? Researchers who study horses did similar tests to find out more about how smart horses are.
When compared to other animals of the same species, like the zebra and the donkey, horses were the best at recognizing patterns. If you gave horses up to twenty designs, they could often pick the right ones and get a perfect score.
Study #3: Horses Can Remember Things
Evelyn Hanggi, an expert on horses, said, “What horses learn, they remember.”
“People remember things for a long time, and what happens during training stays with them long enough to help or hurt the process.”
Even though the expectations for a domesticated horse are different from those for a wild horse, horses use their memories to stay alive.
A horse needs to know all the different kinds of plants, especially in the wild, so it doesn’t eat something poisonous, prickly, or just plain gross by accident. There are even more studies that show how horses remember things in the short term.
Even though a horse’s long-term memory is interesting, Evelyn Hanggi’s research shows that a horse may also use its short-term memory well.
The results showed that a horse could remember something short-term even after being exposed to distractions if it gave the right answers to specific tests after delayed release.
Study #4: Body Language and Facial Expressions
Body language and facial expressions can have big effects on how people talk to each other. For example, people are more likely to get along with someone who seems calm and easygoing than with someone who seems angry or hard to approach.
Researchers have been trying to figure out the meaning of body language for years by doing similar tests with different kinds of animals.
In 2016, amazing research funded by the University of Sussex in sunny England looked carefully at how horses react to different things (joke there).
When given happy and angry posters to look at, the horses studied showed “lateralized responses to human emotion.” In other words, the horses didn’t like seeing the angry people’s posters.
Not only did the horses’ heart rates go up when they saw the annoying posters, but their preference for using their left eye is directly linked to the part of the brain that deals with unpleasant things.
Compared to other animals, how smart are horses?
Some scientists have said that horses are about as smart as a 3-year-old child when compared to humans. Also, most horses can see themselves in the mirror, understand how people feel, and learn tricks or commands that are hard to explain.
There is no simple answer to the question of whether some horses are smarter than other animals. In reality, you can’t compare the intelligence of different species directly because the standards for what is smart are different from one animal to the next.
For example, if you measure intelligence by how well an animal can climb a tree, the monkey will score very high, while the elephant will score very low. Because of this, it doesn’t make much sense to try to measure intelligence across species. So, there is no such thing as an IQ score for animals as there is for people.
What kind of horse is the smartest?
A group of us were leaning against a fence when a neighbor rode up on an Arabian and quickly told us all the good things about the breed, such as how smart they are. This made me want to learn more about how smart dogs are.
Many horse owners like to say that the breed of horse they own is the smartest. However, there is no proof that one breed is smarter than another. Shetland ponies are very smart animals, even though they are not horses.
People who own horses tell me about Arabians, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, and so on.
Do horses form bonds with people?
Yes, horses can develop feelings for people they spend a lot of time with. They are able to make positive connections with people that last for a long time.
Why do horses whinny when they see you?
When a horse sees you coming, it will nicker and look at you. This is how they say hello. Your horse is basically saying, “Hello, it’s good to see you!”
How do horses show how much they care?
Horses can show they like people in many ways, such as by nickering, walking up to greet them, resting their head on them, nudging them, or grooming them back.
Do Horses Know Who Owns Them?
Yes, horses can tell who owns them. Not only do they know their face, but they also know their voice.
How Long Will a Horse Keep Your Name in Mind?
Horses can go years or even more than 10 without seeing a person and still remember them when they see them again.
One Last Thought
Horses are smart, and their emotional and intellectual abilities shine brightly. Horse owners all over the world trot and canter with these beautiful animals, but we must remember to listen to them when they talk, and they will listen to us when we talk.