Who is more intelligent: Cow or horse?
For riders, the answer seems clear; after all, horses can even recognize their humans in photos and immediately sense the mood of their caregiver.
However, it is not so easy to answer the question of intelligence. There are many different definitions of intelligence.
In this article you will learn how horses and cows differ from each other and whether one animal species is smarter than the other. The result will surprise you.
Are horses smarter than cows?
That is not easy to answer. Both animal species are intelligent and social creatures.
The more you deal with the animals, the better you can understand them on the one hand and on the other hand they can learn how to deal with you.
This is exactly what makes you notice how intelligent both cows and horses are – and how small the differences between them are.
How is intelligence defined?
There is no precise definition for intelligence. Instead, there are various descriptions of it.
Among them, for example, the ability to think abstractly. However, emotional and social intelligence are also important factors.
This is the ability to put oneself in the shoes of other creatures, to deal with them and to interpret the communication of other species.
What intelligence do horses possess?
Horses can recognize their humans by their appearance, voice, smell and even gait.
They remember their caregiver even months without visiting them and respond even to photos of the humans.
In addition, they are loyal and faithful.
They can also:
overcome or walk around obstacles
solve arithmetic problems
perceive the mood of people
Due to their memory, it is possible for them to learn more difficult and complex procedures. They can recall these for a longer period of time.
Horses can be very people-oriented with the appropriate, positive experiences. They can make friends with other species and even learn some of their language.
But how do they compare to cows?
What intelligence do cows possess?
Cows are said to be almost as intelligent as dogs. They can learn by just watching from conspecifics or even from humans.
This includes, among other things, operating a watering trough or using brushes.
So just like horses, they are capable of learning and they too can overcome or avoid obstacles.
In addition, cows are very social and intelligent in this respect. Cattle that are confident, curious and courageous are chosen as leading animals.
The herd follows these leading animals and relies on them. Which can be quite dangerous for humans or attackers.
Cows can distinguish whether humans or other animals are well-disposed towards them just by observing them. If, on the other hand, their behavior poses a threat, it becomes dangerous.
Although cattle – like horses – are flight animals, bulls and leading cows defend their herd and especially their calves.
This applies to both humans and other animals.
Dogs, in particular, are quickly perceived as a threat because of their similarity to wolves.
Therefore, cows must be expected to attack in order to defend themselves.
With horses you have to expect this less often, unless they are attacked directly.
Why this is so, you will learn in the following.
What is the difference between horses and cows?
A significant difference between horses and cows is human interaction with them. Therefore, people often perceive the intelligence of animals differently.
Horses are usually ridden, trained and groomed. They are directly cared for and thus also encouraged as well as much more accustomed to dealing with other species.
Many riders have dogs and take them along for rides. Horses therefore often know dogs as companions rather than threats.
With cows, apart from the increasingly used herd protection dogs, contacts to them are much rarer. They are therefore more insecure in dealing with them and may react aggressively to fear.
Because of their size and weight, cows should not be underestimated and should not be considered less intelligent.
However, they react much faster against humans and other species than horses, although they are also flight animals.
This is not due to intelligence, but to the lack of bonding.
Anyone who spends a lot of time with cows quickly notices that they also have different personalities and traits. This is another important point about intelligence.
No animal is the same
Imprinting, employment with humans, and interaction with the particular animal play crucial roles in the expression of intelligence.
Therefore, horses often appear more intelligent. However, they are also significantly more encouraged, challenged and have more contact than cows.
Individual examples prove that even cows can be ridden or behave like dogs if they have been raised accordingly.
Unfortunately, this is neglected again and again in the currently existing studies. Moreover, both cows and horses can distinguish between known and unknown people.
The difference in terms of intelligence is therefore smaller than often thought and depends mainly on the attitude and the individual.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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