[ExI] reasoning in beasts

spike spike66 at att.net
Mon Jun 16 04:46:18 UTC 2014

A few weeks ago someone posted a comment regarding reasoning in dogs; mighta
been BillW.  I have received a new insight please.


This weekend I attended the college graduation of my niece.  In the same
town lives her great grandparents, both aged 90 yrs.  They have been married
nearly 72 years.  We ended up spending most of the day with them.  Great
grandma is a volunteer docent at a local history museum, and took us there
for a tour.  Even at that age, she still gave a terrific lecture.  Her mind
is sharper than most people 15 years her junior.


One of the most interesting things that came out is from a display regarding
mule teams running harvesters and combines.  I asked why they always used
mules.  She offered this explanation.  


Horses are strong, smart beasts.  An example of their intelligence is
supplied by her grandfather, who was a doctor around the turn of the
century.  He could sit up late with a patient, then in the middle of the
night, he could get in his buggy and start the horse, then gently lay down
the reins.  Even in the middle of a moonless night, the horse would walk
right on home, several miles, from anywhere.  The exhausted doctor could
doze the whole way back; the horse knew the way home, even if he had never
been to that place before.  


Asses are stupid; generally they were not in charge of pulling a buggy, for
they couldn't find the way home even in the daylight.  Horses are smart and
strong, but they are generally unsuitable for pulling plows and combines
because they have horse sense.  After they pull the plow or combine across
the field, they are difficult to turn around.  That act makes no sense to
them; they just came from that direction.  They don't want to go back the
way they came.  The second time they are turned around, the horse concludes
that its human is crazy; they are being asked to do something which makes no
sense.  This is the origin of the term "horse sense."


Asses don't have horse sense; they don't reason, they can be turned about
arbitrarily many times.


According to my niece's 90 yr old great grandma, who was a firsthand witness
and tells the truth, mules are the choice for work beasts: they have most of
the horse's strength and most of the asses stupid; ideal combination.  


BillW, I see no clear explaination besides the notion that the horse is
using his version of reason but the ass is not.



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