The day started off just like any other day…
I finished my morning coffee, kissed hubby goodbye and headed out to the barn to see my boys.
Everything seemed perfectly normal and the horses were in the pasture happily eating the new grass that was starting to grow with all the rain we’ve been having.
Except something in the back of my mind was saying, “What’s wrong with this picture?”.
The barn hadn’t burnt down in the night, the gate was still locked and my 5 horses were busy grazing in the pasture.
So what was it that was bothering me…
But I only have 3!
“My husband must have made the coffee strong this morning”, I thought, so I counted them again.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Yep, there were definitely 5 horses out there in the pasture and they were all eating quietly together like they had been doing it for years.
Hmmm, something’s not quite right here, I’d better go investigate.
I went into the field and whistled for my boys. They immediately picked up their heads, looked at each other and then started running up the field to see me as normal.
As they came closer I recognized Jazz, Apollo and D’artagnan but who were the other 2 horses?
Suddenly the 2 mystery horses peeled off, ducked through an opening in the fence line, trotted down the narrow lane between the 2 pastures, went behind a big old tree and reappeared in the field next door.
AhhHa, they were two of my neighbors horses, a mare and a stallion, who had figured they’d come over for a visit because, well you know how it is, the grass is greener on the other side.
But I swear as they came towards me before veering off, they looked at me and said, “Thanks for the grass, but we’re headed home now!”
In my head, I was replaying the scene of the 5 of them together at the moment they heard me whistle. I could almost hear the stallion saying, “Sh*t, we’ve been spotted! Come on, Betsy, let’s get out of here. Thanks for the nosh and the chin-wag boys, see you later!”.
There was no question in my mind that the 2 of them knew they weren’t supposed to be there and were therefore heading home before I came to get them.
And the funny thing is, my 3 horses came up to me with these perfectly innocent looks on their faces as if to say, “What’s up, Mom? What’s going on?”
I’ve always thought that horses have emotions and intelligence. And just like people, some are more intelligent than others, and some have more common sense or street smarts than others.
There are horse trainers out there though who continue to treat horses like “dumb” animals and say that emotions are just our projections, but I disagree and it looks like equine science is beginning to share my point of view.
15 years or so ago scientists were still questioning whether horses even experience emotions but now Equine Ethology is indicating that they may in fact have some of the same cognitive abilities as we do, only at a different level.
Today, it’s generally accepted that animals do indeed experience primary emotions such as fear, anger, rage, surprise, joy, and disgust.
Now the controversy swirls around whether they can also have secondary emotions such as embarrassment, shame, guilt, and jealousy as these are more complicated and tend to arise less rapidly.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the topic and I am really liking what I’m reading. The studies are now saying that horses not only have emotional capabilities, but they also have stronger intellectual capabilities than they have traditionally been given credit for.
I have owned horses since I was 6 years old and all of them have been wonderfully creative creatures who have outsmarted me and my friends at some point or another.
How often do we hear of a horse unlocking his own paddock gate?
Mine did it all the time and I could tell you lots of other stories of things my horses have done that left me scratching my head.
They are amazing, intelligent creatures and I love them to death.
What has been your experience with your horse showing intelligence or emotion? Please write and tell me in the Comments below as I’d love to hear!
Before I go today, I’d like to make one more comment on the incident with my horse’s neigh-bors (pun intended).
When my horses arrived, D’artagnan had not long been a gelding and was still very full of himself so he and the stallion from across the way nearly broke their fences down trying to get at each other.
But here we are 18 months later and being in close proximity with each other all this time allowed them to act like a regular herd once they got in the same pasture together.
This showed me once again that proximity alone really does help you to bond and connect. Just taking the time to hang out with your horse can have such a beneficial impact and help develop a strong heart-to-heart connection with your horse. It never ceases to amaze me 🙂