Keith Hunt - Mighty Smart - Page Three   Restitution of All Things

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Mighty Smart!

Well some sure are!


     Horses vary in natural brightness to learn. Some just cannot
learn the art of whatever skill you are wanting, or hoping to use
that horse for. Then some breeds are basically good at certain
skills. The Quarter horse (that name was given because it is the
fastest horse over quarter of a mile) is the "cowboy horse" - the
breed has a natural feeling towards the work that a cowboy must
do on a cattle ranch. Hence most cowboys on the range and working
with cattle, will use a Quarter horse. 
     The Arab has natural stamina, and is a very fine horse to
use in the long distance of many days competitions.
     Many "warm-blood" of Europe make fine Show Jumping horses,
having good natural ability for jumping.
     The Thoroughbred is famous as the fast long distance race
horse, for races over a quarter of a mile. A quarter of a mile is
just the warm up distance for the Thoroughbred. My very first
horse was a good looking sorrel registered Thoroughbred mare, and
quarter of a mile was just the warm up distance to her.

     Yet within breeds there can be differences of natural
intelligence. Some horses no matter what the breed can have
remarkable minds for this or that.

     At the Ranch we have two large wagon-pulling Percheron
horses. The large barn/arena has a gate at either end. To open
the gate there is a leaver that works on a spring. At the one end
of the barn we have a large corral. We bring the horses from the
range into this large corral when the day begins for public trail
riding. It would seem one of our black Percheron horses noticed
how we opened the gate to enter that side of the barn/arena from
the corral. One day when no one was looking and when there was no
activity in the barn, he pulled back the spring loaded leaver
with his nose; he and his buddy walked into the barn. But the
story does not end there. He walks to the other end of the barn
and promptly does the same with that gate, opens it with his
nose. By the time we saw the two of then, they were walking away
from the ranch, I guess they thought they would go visit the
local town nearby.
     No one had trained that horse to open the gate to the barn,
he just figured it out for himself.

     We also have two brother horses, mid-size, they are used to
pull small wagons and also used as saddle horses on the trail
rides. As brother horses we stand them side by side when in the
barn. We tied them up with our usual slip-knot to the hitching
rail. It was not long before they figured out how to pull the end
and untie themselves and wander around the barn. Well, we now had
to tie them back-to-themselves (rope around the hitching rail and
back to their halter). They now could not get their teeth onto
the end of the slip-knot rope to untie themselves. BUT.... we
mistakenly just left the ends FACING each horse. Yep, you guessed
it. In no time at all, the one horse would reach over and pull
the end of his brother's rope, un-tying him, and then that one
would reach over and untie the slip-knot of his brother. The two
horses were on their way again to walk around the barn.
     We then had to make sure the tie-back slip-knot was facing
OUT so neither horse could un-tie the other.

     No one had taught those two brother horses anything about
un-tying each other, they just figured it out for themselves. 

     We have a few others horse at the Ranch who figured out how
to pull the slip-knot and walk up and down looking in other
stalls for some left-over oats. We now have to put the end of the
slip-knot rope through the loop, which then makes it no longer a
slip-knot, or do a tie-back slip-knot to the halter.

     Are some horses naturally "smart"?  YOU BET THEY ARE!!

     Remember how I told you in a previous article under this
section, how that a once semi-pro bucking pony (back in the 1960s
at the Ranch in Saskatchewan) learned how to buck you off with
saddle and all, over its shoulders, head, and legs, just as slick
and as clean as a new minted coin. He would leave you there with
the saddle under you, cinch all still done up, and he'd be
running west while you'd be facing east.

     Some horses are naturally good at this, while others are
naturally good at that, so sometimes it take going through a
number of horses before you find the right horse for whatever
aptitude you are looking for, in whatever you are wanting this
horse or pony to be skilled at doing, for whatever purpose you
need that skill for.



To be continued

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