Items

Forums
How Do Horses Think
 By Saferaphus   •   1st Apr 2017   •   464 views   •   0 comments
How Do Horses Think

I once had a non-horse person ask me if horses could think. The question surprised me because Iíve never considered that they couldnít. Do they think like humans? Probably not. They donít need to. The canít read, their eyes canít focus on print and they canít tap on a keyboard because the one finger on each Ďhandí is too big to hit a key. But, they do think like horses and for about the last 6 million years, theyíve been very good at figuring out how to survive - and they did it I might add, without destroying their environment, which is something humans apparently canít figure out how to do.

Humans think in different ways. We think creatively, analytically, critically, abstractly, concretely to name just a few ways we actively use our brains. We can think in words and pictures. This is all due to the fact that we have a pretty big prefrontal cortex for all that thinking to contain all that thinking. Emotion governs much of our thinking. We canít be completely rational and analytical like a Dr. Spock from Star Trek, But we can use our thoughts to harness our emotions. Horses may have a more difficult time with this.

As a survival-driven prey animal, quick transitioning from feeling the emotion of fear to physical action is essential. In the face of a predator, a horse doesnít have time for analysis. If they smell a cougar, they donít take the time to consider how far away it might be, whether itís already eaten or if it might be behind a fence in a nearby zoo. They instinctively put as much space between themselves and that smell as quickly as possible. Itís this quick emotion to action characteristic that we have to work with and sometimes around when we handle and train our horses.

It could be that we donít respond as quickly to signs of danger that get us into trouble. We might see evidence of a cougar when weíre out walking, but instead of putting some distance between ourselves and the cougar, we choose to go looking for it. We rationalize that the tracks we see are old, itís not the right time of day for a cougar to eat and itís probably more afraid of us than we are of it. We are rationalizing prey animals, free to roam through our pre-frontal cortex.

We are also more likely to think in words. Horses may be more likely to think in pictures. This is why you canít talk a horse out of anything. To a horse, the water hose lying beside the trough may look like a snake, and it will take showing them itís a water hose and perfectly safe to make them think otherwise. And, if theyíve been hurt by the water hose/snake, itís possible you may never convince them itís safe to go near. They donít spend any time reasoning that their human picked up the snake, water came out of the snake and the snake has no visible teeth. Their instinct for survival overrides everything else.

A horseís memory may, in some ways, be better than ours. This is important because it will always need to know that snakes and cougars are dangerous, what they look and sound like and the places where both are likely to be (the front of horse trailers). The downside for us is that if it has a bad experience in a trailer with a blue interior, it will probably not want to load on that trailer, but be fine getting on a trailer with a white interior and weíll wonder why. That attention to detail can get in the way of what we want them to do.

Humans do things for approval. We rationalize that this is the way to be accepted by others. It takes some thinking to figure out what will get someone elseís approval and attention. Horses are very social, but they donít vie for attention like humans do.

Weíre learning more about how horses think and emote. Iíve certainly only scratched the surface here. But the answer to my friendís question is simply yes, horses think but they think like horses.
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Saferaphus
 More News by Saferaphus
Why Does My Horse Stumble
24th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
We all stumble sometimes, and thatís perfectly normal. So it follows that our horses are going to take a misstep now and then. They have twice as many legs as we do after all. The occasional trip up isnít something to be worried a ...
Trotters and Pacers Racing Under Saddle
22nd Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Itís known as RUS or racing under saddle. In Europe, itís known as Montť racing or trot Montť. And in recent years, there have been a number of events held in North America, and associations formed for those who want to take part. ...
Donkey Facts
17th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
There are lots of donkey breeds, each with their own characteristics. Of the over 150 different breeds, we here in North America are probably most familiar with the American Mammoth Jack, often crossed with horses to produce a lar ...
Should Kids Ride Stallions
14th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Should youth riders ride stallions? I think it depends on the situation. There are probably situations where it will work, and many where it definitely will not. ...
Horse Blanket Hazards
11th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Most of us try our hardest to look after our horses well. That can include putting some sort of blanket on them to protect them from the elements. Unfortunately our best efforts can occasionally backfire, and the very thing that s ...
Horse DNA Testing
9th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Up until the availability of DNA testing and a discovery of speed genes, breeding for the track has been a bit like a combination of gut feeling and practiced eye combined with mathematics. But now, DNA analysis can help breeders ...
City Horse Riding
6th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
Do you want to go riding? Do you think that you have to travel out to the countryside? Maybe not. Depending on where you live, you may be able to hop on the subway to get to a stable. Many cities have riding academies or stables w ...
Stolen Horse Tack Insurance Claim
4th Nov 2017   |   General   |   Saferaphus
We should all, at minimum have liability insurance on our horses. That way, if our horse causes injury to anyone, we are protected. Many of us also have insurance against the loss of our horse, and against the loss of our horse st ...
  View All News by Saferaphus
 
©2002 - 2017   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
382 Members Online 238,173 Registered Members 2,357 News Articles 9,567,665 Unique News Article Views 206,942,531 Website Views