I think many of us expected the horse to panic or start running through the pastures. Well, fortunately, that didn’t happen. We can say that these horses caught the bait. Yes, they were confused at first but again, fortunately, nothing bad happened.
However, I wouldn’t recommend such “jokes” with any horse because sometimes, a confused horse will respond with aggression; this behavior cannot be overlooked and must be dealt with effectively. Horses can think and make simple informed decisions. They need to be encouraged to think because they rely mainly on their instincts to get through life. When they are thinking, they need to be positively reinforced, or they will stop thinking and continue to rely on instinct.
This is another reason why a horse needs a strong herd leader: The leader is the one that thinks and the rest just rely on her/his ability to do so. If we allow our horses to feel confused and encourage them to think their way through the confusion, we will develop a horse that feels good about trying to do what we want.
Encouraging a horse to work through the confusion is not difficult. There are a few things that we need to be prepared to do to help our horses. We need to be aware of their emotional state and some like to do this by watching and acknowledging their expressions, including the look in their eyes and their posture. Do they look confused, or angry, or scared? If we trust our own instinct about how the horses feel, we can adjust the way we are asking so that we help the horses to be right.
The confused horse will be indecisive about what to do; the mad horse will intentionally resist; the scared horse will instinctively react in a way that will ensure his escape. A horse will not stay confused for long before he turns his brain off and quits trying to be correct.