Discovery News posted this article written by Jennifer Viegas titled, "Horses Never Forget Human Friends" and I found it so fascinating, I had to share. We don't talk about horses enough, here. (please forgive the annoying pop-up – one wonders why brands think that is useful)
Interestingly, the article says horses not only remember people they like – people who have treated them well – they understand vocal commands better than previously thought.
"Human friends may come and go, but a horse could be one of your most loyal, long-term buddies if you treat it right, suggests a new study.
"Horses also understand words better than expected, according to the research, and possess "excellent memories," allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more."
Is it any surprise that horses, like most 'animals' respond to positive reinforcement and "tasty rewards"?
One difference noted in the article is that horses are more tactile. "…the majority of horse-riding training is based on tactile sensations — pressure from bits, movement of riders' legs, weight change in the saddle." All that makes sense and leads me to wonder if dogs (not sure about cats or other pets)
don't also respond to tactile experiences? Don't dogs love being petted, being played with, being groomed? Our dogs do.
This blog by Joe Camp where he talks 'horse' is an excellent resource: The Soul of a Horse. I read the book and it's fantastic! I recommend it to any and all animal lovers but especially to horse people
In the end, the conclusion of the article will make you stop and think:
"… horses are loyal, intelligent and have very long-lasting memories — of both good and bad experiences." Starr said, "Horses can be very forgiving, but they never forget."
So, what are your thoughts? If you're a horse person, does this article make you nod your head in agreement and leave you wondering why everyone doesn't already know this?
I own several horses, all of whom I train exclusively with positive reinforcement (as well as my dachshund).
It is very true that horses never forget. My very first trick pony, Minnow, was a wild-born Chincoteague pony who went through his fare share of bad homes before he found me. When I got him he was a mess, unable to trust anyone scared of any and everything. I spent several years retraining him with positive reinforcement and now he is my BEST trick horse. I love him to death and he would walk over fire if I asked him to. In fact he is so “reformed” and trustworthy now that I take him to elementary schools, as well as big crowded events and places any normal horse would be terrified of.
He’s a true testament to what can be accomplished with loving training methods.
For anyone interested I document his adventures and the training of all my ponies on our blog. http://www.paintingpony.com/blog
I only wish that clicker training was a more accepted training method within the horse community. It is still a fairly new concept in training and many professionals frown upon food based rewards for horses. As you can see I don’t follow this mentality and I’m happy to keep blazing the trail towards a better way to work with my animals. 🙂