This morning before it got hot I opened up a new small section of pasture for Bella and Scout. I moved the temporary fence in plain sight, and they were interested at one point but then went back to grazing.
A little background: every night I call them in with their vitamin supplement from near the round pen and lock them in there for the night.
So at first when I called them from the tall grass on the other side of the round pen they were like, "Nah." It was the wrong time of day and there was no sign of food.
I persisted and they became intrigued and came down. Their different responses were really interesting and got me thinking about intelligence and our perception of it.
Scout charged down the hill and ran through where the fence had been, excited to eat the new grass.
Bella came down more carefully, following her usual path, and put herself in the round pen as per her daily habit. She nickered at us on the other side, not quite sure how to join the party, but she wasn't terribly upset.
At first I was shocked and thought Scout was smarter than his mama! No way! But then I got to thinking maybe it's not smarter to charge into a new situation. Maybe for a horse it's smarter (safer) to stick with routine, not try new things without checking them out first. She and Scout have completely different formative backgrounds, with her growing up wild and him growing up here in a very safe, controlled environment. And of course, their personalities are totally different. He loves to explore (destroy) new things (anything he can get his mouth on). She is content just being a horse.
Interesting. Who is smarter? How do you gauge it? By human expectations or horse expectations? Wouldn't it be fun to study?
I've heard people say they hate sheep or chickens because they're "So Stupid!" but I never saw them that way. They're not people. They're smart enough to be what they are, and that's just fine. Stick together, keep out of the way of predators, and eat. And have little squabbles and relationships and cute little lives that are actually quite interesting if you slow down and watch them and don't expect them to be "smart" in some way that they're not. Probably the humans who were complaining about them were trying to work with them in a way that didn't fit their nature (couldn't get them to cooperate) and so perhaps it wasn't the animals who were stupid after all? :) I admit I've fit in the stupid bracket more than once working with different types of animals. It's a journey...