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Why Do Horses Do These Things?

By Cindy Hale

Monday, October 19, 2009

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Despite having spent pretty much most of my life around horses, I have a lot of questions that I fear will never be answered to my satisfaction. I’d be really interested in what an equine psychologist (if there were such a professional) might have to say about these 8 horse behaviors I’ve observed:

1. Why will my freshly bathed, impeccably groomed horse locate the lone pile of manure in his entire paddock and then roll in it?

2. Speaking of manure, how come my three-year-old still can’t figure out how to back through a trail obstacle, yet he can manage to back up to his feeder and poop into it with precise aim?

3. What is it about my most expensive leather tack that is so appealing to a horse’s taste buds?

4. My horses have displayed incredibly acute hearing. They can hear me crinkle the wrapper on a horse cookie or snap a carrot in half from yards away. Yet if they happen to step on my foot they’re immediately struck completely deaf, unable to hear me wailing and cursing.

5. Why is it that my horse will plod across a fast moving, chest-deep river without hesitation, but if I ask him to step off a curb and there’s a trickle of water in the gutter, he acts as if I’m asking him to leap into an abyss?

6. Have you ever noticed that a horse who derives pleasure from rubbing his mane into oblivion is the very same horse that throws a total hissy fit if you try to clip, comb, braid, band or pull his mane?

7. My sister’s gelding came from the racetrack with an annoying habit. He dunks his hay in his water bucket. Every. Single. Meal. It’s like he’s making Hay Stew. He eats all of it, but then his water is yucky and he won’t drink it, forcing us to empty his water bucket. Every. Single. Meal. Why? Does he find this ritual amusing?

8. How do my horses know when I have planned a horse camping trip, a show, a trail trial or a clinic? Is it my body language? Are they eavesdropping on my conversations? I want to know, because my special occasions seem to coincide with their decisions to lose a shoe, break out in spontaneous hives or stick their leg through a fence.

I’m sure you have some questions about questionable horse behavior, too. Are the horses we love simply trying to drive us nuts? Or are their antics just misguided attempts to add humor and excitement to our lives? Perhaps none of us will ever truly know the answers.

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Reader Comments

Barb    Chana, IL

10/20/2009 11:35:24 AM

OMG that really made me laugh! How true to it all and thanks for the giggles.

Jamie    Lafe, AR

10/19/2009 8:48:46 PM

Oh my gosh! I dont feel so alone now! LOL. If you ever find out the answers, let me know! LOL. I have 2 grays, and 2 sorrel overos, rolling in "ahem" poo, is their specialty, especially if I have riding company over!!!! LOL. Love it.

Nancy Bourke    Flemington, NJ

10/19/2009 4:39:08 PM

My Saddlebred has been a hay dunker since I've owned him (8 years). I have wondered about this as well, and it certainly is a hassle having to change his water all the time. We even tried putting two water buckets in his stall, thinking he would keep one for dunking and one for drinking. Not! I have heard various theories on why they do this. Perhaps they are removing the dust from the hay, but most likely it is a matter of taste. Since he now has Cushings, its actually better for him to soak his hay because it removes some of the sugar.
Its just one of those things we will never really know for sure!

Katie    Clarington, OR

10/19/2009 9:51:28 AM

I have experienced one through four and eight repeadtedly

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