Trivia Challenge: Do Horses Know What to do During an Emergency?

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Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. True or false: Horses have a fight-or-flight instinct. 


2. During a big storm or hurricane, what will horses do to protect themselves? 

A) Lay down until the storm is over. 

B) Turn their butts into the wind and huddle with other horses. 

C) Run until they escape the storm. 

3. True or False: Horses will often try to run back into the barn during a fire.

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. T is correct. The fight-or-flight response involves nervous impulses which result in hormone secretions into the bloodstream. When a horse reacts to a threat, it may initially “freeze” in preparation to take flight. The fight-or-flight reaction begins in the amygdala, which triggers a neural response in the hypothalamus.

2. B is correct. The “butts to the wind” huddle works to stabilize the horses against the powerful storm gusts. As soon as horses begin to sense a change in air pressure with the approaching storm, they begin grouping together.

3. T is correct. Horses tend to run back into burning barns out of fear and confusion. Many horses will be confused by the “blindfold” of smoke so they will try to go back to a place they know as safe. 

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