Do Horses Remember Each Other?

The answer might surprise you.
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Do horses remember each other?
With so many stories describing enthusiastic reunions between horses that had been separated for years, it’s tempting to believe that they must remember past companions. But scientific evidence for long-term individual recognition in horses is lacking. | Photo: iStock

Q.I recently hauled my horse into a boarding stable to ride. He’d never been there before, but there was one horse he saw and cried to, and they both got very excited, whinnying and calling to each other. I could swear by how they acted they could be old friends, and it got me wondering if they had met in the past. Is it possible for a horse to remember old acquaintances and herdmates?

—Via e-mail

A.With so many stories describing enthusiastic reunions between horses that had been separated for years, it’s tempting to believe that they must remember past companions. But scientific evidence for long-term individual recognition in horses is lacking, so the answer to your question is “maybe

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Written by:

Robin Foster, PhD, CAAB, IAABC-Certified Horse Behavior Consultant, is a research professor at the University of Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington, and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington. She holds a doctorate in animal behavior and has taught courses in animal learning and behavior for more than 20 years. Her research looks at temperament, stress, and burn-out as they relate to the selection, retention, and welfare of therapy horses. She also provides private behavior consultations and training services in the Seattle area.

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