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Who says horses aren't problem solvers?

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  • Who says horses aren't problem solvers?

    Just wanted to share something that my youngest mare started doing in the past two weeks.

    I feed a mixed hay, grass and alfalfa, and not heavy on the alfalfa.

    My mare will take the flake of hay, pick it up, dump it in her corner feeder, stir it about, and then toss out the grass, and eat all the bits of alfalfa that fell into the feeder.

    Pretty smart if you ask me.

    Any of you have stories of horses that have solved a problem on their own?
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

  • #2
    Pshaw--my horses do that all of the time.

    My filly that ended up being my GP dressage horse was SMART. When she was a young 'un I would pony her to an arena in a park and let her go while I rode. One day the gate blew open and she ran out, thinking she was all smart. The gate blew shut, so she couldn't get back in. I let her fuss with it, running back and forth all frustrated. Then she ran around the outside down to the end I was to get in that gate--it's a huge arena. That was closed, too. While there, the original gate blew back open, and she took off like a rocket down to the far end and back into the arena, triumphant. I think she was two. Pretty damn smart.

    My three year old apparently "escaped" the pasture the other day, and wandering loose, walked over to her usual tie place, and waited there to be fed. The barn manager finally noticed, and they took her back to the pasture, getting her to follow with a carrot. Before they could open the gate, she found her escape route, walked over the downed fence, and put herself away.

    She also is the one who has a habit of rolling close to the fence in the arena. A couple of weeks ago she did this, flipping over, and got wedgeg against the fence. She just lay there, waiting for me to fix it. I tried to flip her back over, standing between her back legs, her front, and grabbing her head, but couldn't do it. She never moved a muscle. She waited patiently while I went and got help to flip her front legs while I grabbed her back, and we got her turned over. She lay quietly for a moment, then got up and came up for her usual hug. Smart.


    • #3
      I have asthma. Sometimes the walk up the hill can be a bit of a challenge. My horse has taken all the challenge out of that. If he hears my breathing get out of snyc, he slows down. If he hears the wheeze, he stops first. If I stop too many times, he dances sideways, then gets behind me, puts his big draft forehead squarely against my behind and slowly and steadily pushes me up to the barn. This is the same horse that, while I was out searching for his 'brother's' halter, went down the hill a bit ahead of me (no lead line), picked it up, shook it up and down, stared right at me, then dropped it and walked away. It doesn't sound too spectacular until you realize he had been hanging with me while I searched through 75 acres of grass and brush to find the darn thing! My horse is a smarty pants, too!
      "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



      • #4
        I forgot to add, that most recently I got my foot stuck in some deep mud and tugging and trying to pull it out was getting me nowhere. So I grabbed both hands onto one side of his halter and said, "Sterl, help me out here!" He tested pulling up sideways, then danced around to the front of me, then ripped his head up and back. I popped out of that hole like a gopher! Then he came back around side and waited until I fished out my shoe, let me balance against him while I got it back on, and then we finished walking up to the barn. He definitely gets an "A" in problem solving!
        "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



        • #5
          My donkeys try to do that all the time. And they leave a mess for me to clean up. Even with everyone elses hay (if they can sneak in their stalls) It's like putting the broccoli aside to get to the ice cream. :P
          Sometimes I just think funny things - Dudley Moore in Arthur
          Come join us at - TheMuckBucket


          • #6
            This morning brought the first load of whiteshit and Wallkicker, all on his own, tramped down the snow for me to have an easier walking path (I walk with a cane, so it can be nasty in that stuff) and he walked slowly, looking back the whole time, and not taking a drink until I had made my way to the gate. He also walks or backs beside me in deep mud. I did NOT teach him this, but he watched Mr Fussy watch over me and play guide horse for several years and when Mr Fussy died. he just took over the guide horse duties, albeit awkwardly, for the first couple of months. He is all self taught, learning through watching, and paying attention to my body language - if I look stiff or sore, he walks beside me and will actually stop me if there are deep holes in mud; I had to learn his ways through this too, and figured out him stopping seems to mean look down where I am walking instead of watching him.

            Yes, some are damned smart critters, and I am still amazed that this guy has picked up the guide duties all on his own; I had thought, at one time, that he wasn't all that clever beyond learning normal horse stuff, but I was wrong.
            Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

            Member: Incredible Invisbles


            • #7
              Our pony was eating fallen leaves that had dropped into her paddock - she picked up each one and rubbed it on her fetlock to get the sawdust off it before eating.
              Thought that was pretty thoughtful.
              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


              • #8
                We got an old horse out of a bad situation, the owner didn't think to get his teeth floated and he was starving, not being able to eat enough.

                Once here, he was too weak to be in a stall, in case he went down, so we let him have the large sand floored aisle.
                He watched us go in the barn thru the people door to get the hay and one morning, he was in there, eating out of the stack.
                We thought, we didn't close the door good, he pushed it open, so were careful to close it well.
                Next feeding, he was there again.
                We left but kept watching and he would go to the door and turn the round door knob with his lips and let himself in.

                We had to lock that door and we took the key with us, afraid he would figure where it was and let himself back in.


                • #9
                  I was raking/shoveling up manure in the pasture one spring, and making small, managable piles along the fenceline where my 2 horses liked to poop. I was halfway up the line, picking up the piles and then moving my wheelbarrow along to the next pile, rinse, repeat with my horses watching me with great interest. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my geldings straddle a previously raked up pile, and veerrry carefully line himself up to pee on it, then small back-up to poop. I was amazed! ( I miss him very much - especially since I'm left with Gelding #2, who can't figure out that he needs to back up in order for me to open his dutch door in the morning to let him outside....and I've owned him for 12 years. He's just a tad slow.)


                  • #10
                    My older TB loves his blanket and he will tell you. If you don't put his blanket on when putting him back in the paddock, he will pull it off the bars for you. I have stood in his paddock in the afternoon during winter wondering-in my mind-if I should blanket him now or wait until later. He answers that question for me and others who have had the same experience.

                    He will also attempt to pull off his halter if he wants to go out and you are taking too long to get hime out. He communicates a lot to his people.


                    • #11
                      My trainer was riding my gelding in a dressage lesson with her trainer and the arena was incredibly muddy. Instead of picking carefully through a treacherous area, my gelding just jumped over it. Both of my TBs put their hay in their corner feeder and rub it around to sop up any bits of grain/pellets left there, like people use bread to sop up bits of remaining sauce on their plates.


                      • Original Poster

                        I love these stories! Especially those that show a bond between the horse and owner.
                        There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                        • #13
                          My cousin was handicapped from a very young age (cancer in her spine as an infant). She was extremely small (never over 80 lbs as an adult), had nerve damage and muscle weakness in her left leg, and walked with a crutch.

                          She was given a shetland pony as a gift from the neighbors when she was 9 years old. If she fell off or fell down while leading the pony, the pony would drop her head and allow my cousin to wrap her arms around her poll. The pony would then lift her up until my cousin was standing.

                          That pony was UBER special. She gave my cousin a sense of independence and a whopping amount of self esteem, because my cousin could ride and ride well when many of her friends could not.


                          • #14
                            There is a run off from a corn field through the pasture so when it rains there will be a small river running through the middle.

                            One day I threw down a 2 X 6 so I could walk across it to go get my horse. I was leading him to the barn, walking across my plank bridge when it wobbled. Then I fell off it and into 4 inches of rain and 12 inches of mud.

                            My horse had tried to follow me and keep his own feet dry and got two front feet on the plank before he pitched me into the mud.


                            • #15
                              My horses spend the winter in a pasture that is joined to the barn by a 15' (fenced) alley. I just open the gate & let them walk the short distance into the barn. Our aisle has rubber mats, which can be slippery if they have snow balled up in their shoes. The big chestnut horse HATES to slip, and his first winter with us he came up with his own solution. If it's snowy, he will stop outside the barn entrance & wait patiently for me to pick the snowballs out of his feet.
                              ~ A true friend knows all there is to know about you and still likes you. -E. Hubbard


                              • #16
                                This isn't so much a problem-solver issue as a trust issue. My mare can be a bit spunky and routinely runs from her pasture into her paddock 'like a wild animal'. Occasionally, she'll strike out with her front foot as well. And a few times, she's gotten her foot caught in the fence and hasn't been able to extract it. I have come home a few times over the last many years to find her waiting patiently for me to come fix it for her. Once I get there, I tell her which foot to pick up and she holds it so I can free her.


                                • #17
                                  JoZ has a great story about one of her mares letting her know about another horse's injury. Hope she sees this thread!
                                  It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                                  • #18
                                    The horses have learned the difference between the sounds of my mom's dogs and mine. On weekends if I sleep in, my gelding stays down at the far end of his pen when my mom goes out to feed. On weekdays, when I'm the one feeding the early shift, he has his head over the stall door or over the fence watching for me by the time I get up, because he knows my dog means I'll be the one going out there soon.

                                    He does the same thing with our vehicles - comes running when my truck drives up so I'll give him pats before going in the house to change to ride.

                                    I don't know that there's any real problem solving going on, but he definitely communicates, too. When he was sore in his right quads/hamstring, he let me know by backing that side up to me, then turning and looking at me with ears forward. Like "It hurts, Mom! Fix it, please?" Twice he has had hoof problems he shared - once he stepped on a rock while running in turnout and was fine within five minutes, but he was startled when it happened and hobbled over to me and held up his hoof like a dog trying to shake. The other time he pulled a clip shoe sideways and impaled the bottom of his hoof with the shoe, and did the same thing to my mom.
                                    Originally posted by Silverbridge
                                    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


                                    • #19
                                      I bought one of those bright blue plastic three step mounting blocks. I videoed my horse's first sight of it because I knew it would be entertaining. First he ran around the arena looking at it from all angles as if the aliens had landed. Then he explored it as if he were trying to figure out some good use for it. He even thought about pawing it, but then realised that might be naughty, stopped mid strike and looked at me sheepishly.

                                      When he got done with his examination, he looked at me and started towards me as if to say "*shrug* I give up, what's it for?"

                                      I turned off the camera and stood on it. First, that suprised him, and he kind of reared up and startled away. I had a mounting block, but it was much much lower. When he got used to my new height, it was if a light bulb went off. He came around and stood in proper mounting block position as if to say "OK, swing up. We go now."

                                      Video is in this blog entry:
                                      Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                                      • #20
                                        When my 2yr. old ASB first came to me he was at a large boarding barn and pasture boarded. Four women including me, had small white 4 door cars. When one of the white cars came up the long, long driveway he would study the car for 30 seconds then go back to munching grass UNLESS it was me, then he came galloping up to the barn/gate area and waited for me. None of us could ever figure out how he knew my car as they were all quiet, similar white cars.
                                        "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin