Why yes, I do think horses are smart enough to come up with this sort of ploy.
My horse, Houdini, has been "lame" for 4 months. It only shows when I ride him. He can run and play with hiw buddies in the pasture no problem. The vet has checked his back and girth area and legs and he's been deemed sound. But he still limps.
This is the same horse who will lay down and roll UNDER the fence to escape or sit his 1800 pound ass down when tied to the trailer and break his halter.
This is so true, my horse was known to try these ploys and I know so many others who do the same to try and get out of work! Love it.
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