What breeds are the most intelligent & most stupid?

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Aug 22, 2005
Wouldn't like to say he's typical but i have an incredibly bright TB.

I sometimes wish he wasn't and lie awake at night trying to stay one step ahead.
Doesn't play up vets, farriers, dentists because he rather likes the attention but when it comes to escaping or tracking down food he puts his brain to work.

He has a wooden bar across the door of this stable which he kept opening so it now has a hole and a pin on a piece of string.
Pin get's pulled out of the hole then he uses the the string to pull the bar across.
Unties himself all the time.
When he was on box rest I though I'd give him an apple in a bucket.
He made a few attempts to get the apple, sized up the situation. Drank all the water from the bucket and picked up the apple from the bottom.

He's not particularly spooky unless he's bored.

My friend's warmblood on the other hand - if he's going to spook it's in slow motion. You are virtually see the idea moving slowly from his brain to his legs and have plenty of time to react before he does. Bless.


New Member
Aug 1, 2007
That all depends on what you believe intelligence to be. You can't judge intelligence when it has no definitive meaning; it is a very subjective thing to believe in :)

I also think we tend to judge animal intelligence by human standards, when really the intelligence an animal needs may be completely different than what we perceive intelligence to be.


Hell's Granny
May 6, 2008
Hampshire, soon to be West Sussex
I'm not sure that one can definitely say that one breed or type is more intelligent than another, as they have all been developed for different duties. I feel that temperament has a great deal to add to the mix.

Ponies, especially the smaller ones often get treated like pets or small children, and so they act like it! Bigger horses have been bred often for a more laid back temperament, also being bigger, a more equable temperament is necessary to be able to handle them safely.

Some of the 'hottest' breeds by repute, can be 'dopes on a rope' when given sympathetic handling, whilst more 'chilled' breeds if handled badly can be monsters.

I feel individual horse's upbringing has a lot to do with apparent intelligence. let's not forget they are a 'prey' species, and therefore naturally distrustful of the unknown. Many Native Ponies have been brought up with little human interaction, especially the Moorland breeds, and consequently they are likely to be 'sharper', especially when first brought into contact with people for breaking in.

Cheers, Midori


New Member
Mar 30, 2006
Renfrewshire, Scotland
I don't know if my shetland is MUCH cleverer than my big horse, or whether he is just MUCH braver! His response to something strange and/or unusal is to go and give it a nip (if it screams it is a lifeform and might feed him, if it is tasty it is eaten, if it can be thrown around it provides entertainment). My big horse is scared of his own shadow. They are like different species sometimes!:confused:


New Member
Aug 12, 2009
My tb is a bit dim :rolleyes: it takes him ages to pick things up in the school and we have to simplify everything for him! it just takes him a while to get his head around things and needs to be shown/guided... bless him


New Member
Mar 24, 2009
Lucyad - a friend of mine tells me that the bigger horses are more prone to running because of their ancestory and where they came from, i.e for Arabs their predators would have been big cats etc.... whereas the welshies and shetlands had fewer predators to contend with, so they are more likely to hang around and investigate the danger than flee straight away...... apparently!:eek:


New Member
Jan 8, 2008
Yup ponies do seem very clever compared to horses

Spanish horses must be quite intelligent for what they do and how well they pick up on things, saying that we have a spanish 3 year old and he's one of the stupidest clumsiest horses I have ever met, perhaps with age he will change!!


New Forests Rule!
Nov 26, 2004
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I would say the closer a horse or pony is to their wild ancestors the clever they tend to be because wild horses need to adapt to their environment to survive. So the native ponies especially exmoor and other old breeds tend to be clever. I think arabs are meant to be clever too.

I have a NF who ran on the forest for a couple of years as a stallion - he is very clever. He is very brave and does not have a tendency to spookiness - he is not going to waste energy running away from something unless it is really scary and then he will tend to turn round and try and run home.

However if I get off and walk past scary thing then he will follow as he can see nothing bad has happened to me so he will be ok too.

He has trained me well! He does not like being in the stable and once he had learnt that if he jumped out he got taken straight back to the field he jumped out all the time. I moved yards so he can live out all the time and he now accept the stable though he gets restless if he see other horse coming in as then thinks he is staying in for the night.

A horse in the wild would need to conserve energy for escaping from predators and would learn from experience.

My pony also has a very good homing instinct - I only need to do a ride once and then he knows the way home!


New Member
Feb 18, 2008
Cheshire..but London right now
My instructor told me that Arabs are very intelligent, and will pick things up very quickly when taught. But she also said that because they're a bit temperamental if people don't ask them in the correct way, some people have the misconception that they aren't very bright.


New Member
Sep 19, 2005
That's more to do with the way horses see the world than how intelligent they are. I also think we need to be careful not to confuse trust or tolerance for stupidity either. Horses are wired very differently to us, sometimes the horse we might think is a bit dim may actually have got us very well trained to do things his way :D
That's very true!

How do you define a horse as "stupid" then? Is it their speed at learning new things? But you could also argue that a horse who takes ages learning new things is actually clever, as they're not letting themselves be "controlled" by humans, and the horse that learns new things really quickly and is very easy train is "dim" as they're going against their natural instincts and letting us "control" them!


Active Member
Mar 8, 2007
Knee deep in muck
Someone called my cob 'not very bright' the other day! Sob! He strikes me as quite intelligent! Scared of lots of non-scary things (like Shetlands/dogs he's not seen before). I don't really think being scared of things is stupid, tho, more life-preserving.

I always heard that TBs are a bit thick and my loan was always injuring herself in the field-thick or just clumsy-dunno.

Ponies defintely strike me as cunning little devils!


Warmbloods are reputed to be a bit dim...... but Lexi (1/2 warmblood) is very inteligent and quick to learn new things.... so, I think it may depend on the individual.
I like to think if Darcy as a 'dumbblood' rather than a warmblood ;)


New Member
Aug 19, 2009
Arabs are known for being extremely intelligent.
I don't think any breed of horse is dim, they all act like horses there from different area's of the world and bred/ used for different things so have adapted to that.


Pacific Northwest
May 26, 2006
The most smart breeds I have ever worked with...

Icelandic's, Miniature horses(aka Shetlands) and Donkey... smart enough infact, people can get themselves in trouble or have a hard time with these breeds.
Think most pony breeds can be smart and a bit cheeky. LOL

Think animals are just like people... some are smarter than others, some have issues... just depends on breeding, enviroment and so on.


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
Collies have a bad reputaion for being sharp and mad.....generally due to owner error.
Icelandics can be seen as challenging...again more likely owner error.
Shetlands have a terrible reputation for being nippy and grotty......owner error?
Arabs have a reputation for being sharp and scatty........owner error?

and what they do say about Donks and mules. All down to incompetence perhaps?

I think the horses that you hear things about are maybe more intelligent or clever than the ones you don't.

The test that is supposed to work out how clever a dog is, is you put a towel over their head and time them to see how long it takes for them to get out from under it. When my son tried this on our old collie she jumped up, put her paws under the towel and shoved it over son's head........never have an animal more intelligent than you are :D :D :D