Clifford and Horse Cognition

Clifford wanted off his picket line in the back yard, because it was hot out. I was leaving for errands. I took his halter off, freeing him, and walked away toward the barn. But instead of following me to the barn he stopped in the shade under the maple tree.

He knew a) Trudy was in the barn and b) her presence meant that in the barn, he wouldn’t get any grain.

“if you don’t want to go in the barn, you will have to stay in the dog yard,” I said.

clifford eye

He immediately went to the gate of the dog yard and put his head over it, waiting to go in.

“I will go get you some grain.” I headed for the pole barn. As I did, he hurried over to the barn door and peeked in. Upon seeing Trudy, he turned away and ambled back to the gate of the dog yard.

I took this to mean that for comfort’s sake, he preferred the one-stall barn over the dog yard. So he was just making sure Trudy was still in there, but he didn’t want to give up his grain! The grain won.

His comprehension of language startles me. I am starting to say things to him just as an experiment to see how much he knows.

Tonight, as the bugs were getting vicious, he was resolved to go to the barn, grain or no grain. So when I opened the gate to the dog yard, he ran up there. I had to go let him in the stall. He was excited to see a big pile of shavings and started flinging them around, circling and preparing to roll.

“Can I have that halter first?” I said. He looked at me, hesitating, still up on all fours.

“Can I have that halter?” I said again.

He came over and stretched out his neck so I could unsnap the halter.

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About Nancy J. Bailey

Artist, author, bad karaoke singer. Woodsy ragamuffin. Mom of a horse named Clifford who plays fetch and paints with watercolors. He visits libraries and schools with me, to promote literacy and making the world a better place. Yes, he is house trained, no, he doesn't live in my house! I have written three books about Clifford. But my newest book, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, is co-written by my awesome sister Amanda, who has Down syndrome. Her unexpected one-liner wisecracks can always make me laugh. If you make me laugh, you've made my day!
This entry was posted in Clifford, empathy, horse, horses and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Clifford and Horse Cognition

  1. Fran Feldstein says:

    I had conversations with my Morgan gelding too. The horses know a lot more words than dogs know. My boy was a very clear communicator. Clifford is too.

    Liked by 1 person

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