Study: Some Horses can Learn by Watching Humans

Researchers confirmed that horses learn socially across species, in this case from familiar humans.

No account yet? Register


When you’re at the barn, do you ever feel you’re being watched? Watched, specifically, by a certain quadruped with eyes on the sides of his head? If so, better be careful how you latch that gate, open that feed bin, or untie that leadline. Researchers have confirmed what we’ve all suspected for years: Horses do, indeed, learn from watching their humans.

“(Our) results demonstrate that horses learn socially across species, in this case from humans,” said the research group, led by Konstanze Krueger, PhD, of the University of Regensburg, in Germany.

Specifically, the horses in their experiment learned that it’s possible to open a box of feed by watching humans opening the box, they said. However, the team isn’t certain the horses actually copied what the humans did. Rather, they might have been more determined to try different tasks to figure it out—as if to say, “Well if the human can do it, so can I.”

Krueger; Aurelia Schuetz, a PhD candidate at Nuertingen-Geislingen University, in Germany; and Kate Farmer, MA, of the University of St Andrews, in Scotland, employed 24 horses with at least three months of basic equitation training

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
231 votes · 458 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!