Do horses learn from humans?
Horses can identify individual humans and orientate on the focus of human attention, so do they also learn from humans? To find out, we tested 24 horses, which were split into two groups.
12 horses were tested on whether they would learn to open a feeding apparatus by observing a familiar person operating it. The other 12 were turned loose with the apparatus, did not have a demonstration of how to operate it. To open it, a switch had to be pressed that would then electronically open a box with feed in it.
8 out of the 12 horses who had a human demonstration learned to open the feeder, while only 2 out of the 12 with no demonstration managed it. It also seemed to be the case that younger horses learned more quickly. This shows that horses can learn by observing other species, in this case humans.
Most horse-people have had the experience of a horse appearing to learn something (sometimes something you’d rather they didn’t learn!) from another horse, but it seems they can also learn by watching people. Your horse may be much smarter than you thought!