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Horse Facts and Tips
First Posted: Feb 26, 2009
Dec 7, 2012

Horse Memory

The article, "Perfect Recall," written by Evelyn B. Hanggi, M.S., Ph.D., president and co-founder of the nonprofit Equine Research Foundation (ERF), located in Aptos, California is an excellent article that can be read in its entirety by following the above link.

The following are a few quoted snippets from the article. It should be read in its entirety. There is a wealth of information about equine memory in this study. Enjoy.

Remarkable Memory
  • Because horses have good short-term memory, a mistaken cue on our part can't quickly be erased.
  • Bad timing in rewarding effort can confuse your horse and lead him to make the wrong associations in his memory.
  • Horses remember things they've learned for weeks, months, or even years after the last training session...
The Horse also has an article on Dr. Hanggi's findings regarding horse memory.

Long-term memory for categories and concepts in horses (Equus caballus)
Evelyn B. Hanggi1 and Jerry F. Ingersoll1
(1) Equine Research Foundation, P.O. Box 1900, Aptos, CA 95001, USA

Received: 7 September 2008 Revised: 5 November 2008 Accepted: 14 December 2008 Published online: 16 January 2009

Abstract Three horses (Equus caballus) with a history of performing cognitive tasks including discrimination learning, categorization, and concept use were tested to evaluate their long-term memory (LTM) in three experiments. In addition, use of LCD multi-displays for stimulus presentation was incorporated into cognition testing protocol for the first time with horses. Experiment 1 tested LTM for discrimination learning that originally occurred 6 years earlier. Five sets of stimuli were used and the two horses tested showed no decrement in performance on four of the sets; however, both horses did score below chance on one set. Experiment 2 examined long-term categorization recall 10 years after horses had demonstrated the ability to make stimulus selections based on shared characteristics within a given category. The horse tested for LTM after the decade-long interval immediately and consistently applied the previously learned categorization rule to not only familiar but also novel sets of stimuli. Experiment 3 tested another horse for LTM for a relative size concept. This horse had originally demonstrated concept rule use in order to select stimuli based on their relative size to one another. More than 7 years later and without further training, this horse reliably applied the previously established size concept to both familiar and novel sets of stimuli. These findings are the first reports of long-term categorical and conceptual memory in horses and are consistent with observations of domestic and wild horses, which indicate that behavioral and ecological events may be remembered for long periods of time. These studies also demonstrate the adaptive nature of horses with regard to their ability to generalize over several different testing conditions.

For More Information:

Horses Never Forget Human Friends/Discovery News

Horse Facts and Tips