about 10 yrs ago we rehomed my hubby's horse b/c hubby did not have a lot of time to spend with him. After a time, about a year, we had to get him back. Immediately when we called his name, he started doing the tricks he did for my hubby. Lifting his leg and nickering. i KNOW they remember.
I know absolutely for certain that they do. My friend had a mare and gelding for several years together. The mare was an unremarkable sorrel with blaze face. The mare was sold to another friend. A couple of years later they wind up at the same horse show. From across the show grounds her gelding spotted the mare and started nickering and pulling towards her. The mare looked up and saw the gelding...there was not a dry eye in the house as they greeted each other. It about broke her heart the separate them again.
"My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."
I used to buy several british horse magazines every month. My favorite article from The Horse, I think that is the name of the british magazine, was when one of the queen's horses, who had been retired after being injured in a bombing in Ireland, was greeted by his brother who retired 2 yrs later. They recognized and remembered each other. Two grey gelding brothers enjoying retirement in the english country side.
Humans don't give animals credit for being smart. Or for having ESP, which humans have had bred of out humans.
A few years ago I hauled two OTTB's up from Maryland. Both mares were with the same trainer. I have no idea for how long, or if they were ever turned out together at the home farm.They trailered together well, and once we got to Ottawa, the mares were split up, going to different homes. A year or so later, the girls met up at show, and instantly knew each other. They had a good sniff of each other, no squealing, no foot stomping or striking out. It was pretty neat to see them greet each other in such a friendly manner.
This weekend when I bring the mare we have boarded out for winter, the whole group at home will probably come into heat, the gelding will be beside himself, but there won't be any antics. She'll settle in just fine, like she'd never been away.
"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
― Anna Sewell
I'm convinced they do. I obtained the adult daughter of my mare and when I introduced them to each other, the dam reacted to her daughter very differently than the way she normally reacts to other mares. She's the boss and when she saw her daughter, instead of squealing and striking like she was wont to do with other horses, she became very soft and nickery. The daughter did not have the same reaction, kind of ignored her mom, so I don't think the daughter recognized her mother.
I have them in together now and they get along really well and seem very happy.
Neither video seemed to show unusual behavior (ie different from how any horse would investigate a new horse, or respond to a human scratching their favorite itchy spots).
However, I do think it's possible. I moved my gelding off a farm where he had buddied up with a paint gelding for about 2 years. Large herd turnout, but those two were often grazing together and grooming each other. When it was time for the Paint to retire about 4-5 years later, I happily took him in. Who knows what's really going on in their heads, but I can say completely factually that they did not behave "normally." Zero squealing, pawing, or posturing-- they just sniffed noses intently, nickered, and started mutually grooming each others' neck. Within 10min of arrival, they were grazing side by side. (I would normally *never* turn out a new horse like that, but it was so obvious that these guys were still buddies that I went ahead.)
Unfortunately, though, the peace did not last because the Paint had not been within sight of a mare for 10+ years and he just could not handle being on the same farm with a mare. Instantly became like a jealous, dangerous stallion, couldn't be pastured with her, and if separated, he'd try to run through the fences to get with her. After about 6 weeks of trying various pasturing arrangements, it was just getting worse. In that short time he had lost a bunch of weight because he was in a near-constant galloping frenzy. So, he went to a new retirement home.
But anyway, I digress. Yes, I think they do remember (but also realize that it's one of those sentimental things where we see what we want to see).
I didn't see the video, but our old paint was loaned to our neighbor for his kids to learn to ride and do ranch work for some seven years.
When the last kid finished by winning the 4h all around buckle on him at 12 and him 25 and she needed more horse to move up, he came back home to retire.
Another ranch horse that had been his friend before went nuts, nuzzling and nickering low and huffing and puffing over him and would not let him out of his sight for a few days, before he was sure he was not going anywhere.
It was so sweet to watch, although the old paint didn't seem to care either way, if the other horse was around or not.
There is no question that they recognized each other and the one gelding was super happy to have him back.
Looks like a happy bunch of horses. Very sweet video.
Makes sense to me that horses would remember each other. I know they remember people - for good and bad - even after long periods of time. Surely other members of their own species would be even more important to them.
And anyway, it behooves a prey animal to have a good memory.
There was another boarder's horse that lived in the mare motel stall next to my mare from the time he was 1.5 years to around 4 years old, then his owners moved him home several months ago. They recently trailered him in for a lesson, and my mare was so thrilled to see him again.
We would have camp horses that went away for the winter, came back & always hooked up with their best bud in the herd like they never left.
We had a gelding that adored his trainer. He had not seen trainer in about 7 years, but one day we trailered him to a totally random spot, people were milling around outside of trailer before we unloaded, talking. Horse is chill & waiting to unload. Old trainer shows up, says two words and horse (who can't see anything, only hears) goes BEEZERK. Whinnying & carrying on, trying to twist around and get out/see his love.