Tail end: Equine Intelligence


One warm August morning, my husband Norm walked into the kitchen, looking irritable. “You left the light on in the barn, and I had to go out and turn it off at two o’clock in the morning,” he said accusingly.

“I didn’t turn any lights on when I fed them their supper at three in the afternoon,” I replied. But the broom, shovel and fork had fallen over, and I thought one of them might have hit the light switch and turned it on accidentally as they fell.

The next night the same thing happened, although I had fed the horses at four that afternoon and made sure the switch was off at that time.

“You left the light on in the barn again,” Norm said angrily next morning. “Electricity costs money and I had to go out at three a.m. to turn the light off.”

“I did not leave any lights on,” I defended myself. “I think Saber might be turning on the light with his lips, because the switch is just outside his door.”

“That’s impossible,” Norm scoffed. “Well, if the light is on tonight, I’ll have to tape the switch, or something.”

We both checked to make sure the light was off the third night after I fed the horses. But sure enough, it was on again in the middle of the night.

“I guess you’re right,” Norm finally admitted. “Saber must be turning on the light.” Now we had to work out a solution to the problem. The inside sliding door could be closed, but that would cut off the air circulation. My husband went to the hardware store that day, and bought a new switch plate with a cover that opened and shut. That worked! The light did not come on anymore. I could turn the switch on and off, but Saber couldn’t.

Our “lights on” mystery gave us a few interesting nights – and insights. Interestingly, Saber never turned the switch on during the daytime or when anyone else was around. Who says horses are “dumb animals”?

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