The peanut butter story is not true. The fishing line story is true. I've been researching "Mr. Ed" & the people in the show, the way the horse was trained, etc, for over a year. I've interviewed a woman there when Ed was trained, & during the period Ed was on set, as well as other folks.
The horse was NEVER hurt. It's certain that Les Hilton, Mr. Ed's trainer, would have never hurt him, or allowed him to be hurt. And Allan Lane (voice of Mr. Ed), was more attuned to horses than he was to people. He would not have taken part in any effort which allowed a horse to be in any danger. He was not only the voice, but also a horse owner (from way back in his days as an onscreen actor in "Red Ryder" & "Rocky Lane") as well as a trainer & racer of professional horses.
Mr. Ed was a talented horse. People don't always give horses--or other animals, for that matter--credit for intuition. They're easily trainable. Ed got to the point where he knew when Allan Lane was on set (Allan wasn't often on the set, only when the horse speaking parts were req'd). Ed would be required to respond to commands. Ed came to know Allan's voice--Allan was involved w/Ed off the set as well as on, since he & Les Hilton were very good friends & spent time together @ Les' stable & home--& understood that if Allan's voice was in play, he, Ed, would be required to "work."
All this, & a heckuva lot more, to be included in my upcoming book, "I Am Mr. Ed ... Allan 'Rocky' Lane Revealed." To be published later this year.
Linda J. Alexander
author, "I Am Mr. Ed ... Allan 'Rocky' Lane Revealed"
Horses are very smart animals.... its easy you could train one to respond by raising his lips like that on cue.
My Arabian does the same lip movement on his own, its all in finding how to get the horse to do it on command then the reward to follow.
To gauge the intelligence of a horse think of an average 7 or 8 year old child as far as mental capacity.
to further see this look up Beautiful Jim Key a horse from the mid to late 1800's that could read and write.