dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Heros

We're having the warmest February I remember. Which is good. But it keeps raining. So I still can't ride. The frost seems to be out of the ground so maybe that means things will firm up pretty soon and I will be riding soon.

In the meantime, let me tell you a story. I have been reading William Shatner's book "Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable". It's a fun read- one you can pick up and put down without losing anything. I was reading one story in it and he was talking about how horses are not naturally 'heroes'. That when scared a horse will run away and not try to defend the human.

I don't disagree with that but neither do I believe it to be completely true. Let me tell you a story about my first horse.

Woody was a small little bay QH. I bought him as a 2 year old. I had no business buying an unbroken horse (long story)  and I made a lot of mistakes with him. But he also worked out really well for me. Sometimes fortune favours the innocent. Woody was (still is) one of those horses that you could take anywhere and he was perfectly relaxed.
photographic evidence that I used to jump

He loved the trail and it was with him that I learned to love exploring.
You could put anyone on him and he would just take care of them.

Woody taking a friend for a ride
When Woody was about 4 I was pasture boarding him for the summer. He was turned out with another horse- an Egyptian Arab. I didn't know much about the Arab other then his owner had trouble with him under saddle and he was considered 'high strung'. I have a few theories about that now but back then I didn't know much and so just accepted that he was 'difficult'. 

One day I was riding late in the afternoon during feeding time so the barn owners asked me to feed both horses when I was done. After  my ride I cooled Woody out and led him back to his field carrying the buckets of feed. I put feed in Woody's bucket and then turned to go to the other horse's bucket. 

I heard a noise and looked up to see the Arab charging me. His ears were pinned, his head was snaking and his teeth were bared. I was too far from the fence to escape and I remember thinking 'oh shit'.  I tightened my hold on the bucket thinking I could throw it at him and hopefully make my escape.  

Suddenly Woody galloped up and came to a stop between me and the horse (honestly I can't remember his name!).  The Arab tried to circle around to get me and Woody just kept circling me and staying between us. I hurried to the feed bucket and dumped the food and backed away. The Arab dove into the food and forgot me. 

Woody walked with me to the gate and waited for me to latch the gate before returning to his feed. From that day on every time I brought Woody back to the pasture he escorted me to the gate. 

I know that this sounds made up but this story is 100% true.  I have no explanation for this other than Woody was trying to protect me. I honestly believe that I was in serious danger from that Arab and would have badly hurt. 

To be honest I am sorry that I sold him. At the time it seemed to be the right decision because he just didn't care for dressage. He's living a great life not far from me so I'm sure he's not pining for me. The people who bought him know that he will always have a stall if he needs it. 

What about you- have you ever had a horse that seemed to be protective of you or did something not considered 'normal' for horses? 



26 comments:

  1. Woody sounds like a very special horse. And they don’t forget who they loved, I’m sure he remembers you.

    I did have a horse who actually loved me. Erik was my heart horse. A 17.2 hand Dutch Warmblood from Holland who I had since he was an untrained three yr. old. We were at a show and the trainer was schooling him, he spooked at a blowing banner and dumped the trainer. “Loose Horse” was being yelled out. I was very far away under some trees talking with friends. Nobody could catch him with his head in the air, he somehow spotted me and galloped to me and came to a sliding stop in front of me and stuck his head into my chest and his nose under my arm asking me to protect him. My husband stopped asking me to sell him after that. I could actually call him to the fpaddock fence and ask for a kiss and he’d give me one. We always parted with a kiss goodbye. He was just a sweetheart.

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  2. What a wonderful story! Both Ginger and Bridget have done very similar things. Ginger once, when we were out fixing fences, she took it as her mission to keep all curious horses away from me, even though she was definitely not the boss of any of them. I always joke they were guarding their source of food, but I do think there's more to it...it definitely seems protective and it's certainly specific to me. There's a nasty "alpha mare" at EC's barn and Bridget will absolutely stand up to her and keep her out of my space. When I was a kid I had a pony that did something very similar to your story, when I innocently took a bucket of grain out in the pasture, thinking to give him a treat. I don't recall, but I sure hope I gave him a good treat after that!

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    1. It’s good that they are looking out for you.

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  3. In 1992 my sister was out with Baasha in the field and a young male cow was Baasha's pasture mate. The steer decided to attack her for some reason, and Baasha immediately came between them and chased the cow away. I wasn't there, but I believe her: )

    Baasha would also spook, dump us, and run off in the middle of the street, leaving us lying there. Repeatedly. If *he* was scared of something, he was no hero.

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  4. aww Woody <3 i love the old pictures too. i think horses definitely know sometimes tho. i've never had one literally protect me like that... but i have had times when i've been like, light headed and needing to sit down, and the horse just stands quietly with me rather than pulling away or anything. or horses when their riders fall who just stand like a statue over the rider.

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    1. That is interesting-when I was having bursitis Carmen would let me lean on her when cleaning her stall

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  5. That's a great story. I probably spend more time standing between an aggressive horse and one further down in the pecking order than vice versa, but I have seen my horses make choices to protect people from time to time.

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  6. That is a wonderful story!! The book sounds good, too. You definitely bring a different perspective to the table. I can’t think of a specific incident, like yours, but I do a lot of trail rides, and I’m always amazed at what they take me through safely. I consider it a two way street—we take care of each other. Their instinct isn’t to do half of what I ask of them, yet they do it for me anyway.

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    1. And that is probably the biggest thing

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  7. I'm a mess because I'm sitting here tearing up over this. I love those little bay QHs! I'll always have a soft spot for them.
    After my riding accident, the mare I had was SO careful with me looking back - it's like she knew my confidence was razor thin and anything would shatter it, probably permanently. She could be bratty with my mom or my trainer, but if it was me, she wouldn't put a foot out of place.

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    1. Irish will babysit depending on who’s on him

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  8. Aw I love that story! I absolutely believe it. He sounded like a cool horse.

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  9. What a wonderful horse and a beautiful story! I've recently had each of my horses attempt this behavior on a much smaller scale. Though since none of them are the herd leaders, they'll defer quicker, but I've appreciated the efforts they've put forth.

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    1. It's interesting to watch dynamics.

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  10. Oh what a wonderful horse Woody sounds like! :) How lucky to have had him and experienced that!

    People often tell me that horses can't reason and that we shouldn't attribute human emotions to them. But I have had some experiences that make me think that we don't give them enough credit.

    I had two horses living on thirty acres with a herd of twelve horses and I was feeding my two horses every day. Usually I would just feed them in the paddock, as the rest of the herd would be out of sight at the other end of the paddock and my two would be waiting near where I parked my car. This story came from my mum because on this particular night I'd talked her into feeding my horses for me. For some reason that night, someone nearby decided to let off some fireworks. The herd of horses came galloping into sight and my mum froze with fear, standing in the paddock, right on the path that the horses would come charging along. My horse, Diilun, stood calmly in front of her, with his body sideways to the approaching horses, right where he would be a physical barrier between my mum and the galloping herd. The herd galloped through to another part of the paddock but Diilun (and my other horse Ashton) stayed with my mum.

    My mum and I moved to a place we could keep the horses and the neighbour (after speaking with me) opened the gate into his paddock so that my horses could graze his grass down. My mum's horse somehow ended up falling into the creek and couldn't get out. Ashton ran away from the creek, through the boundary gate and back to our house, yelling / neighing loudly until someone came outside. (We had to winch the horse out of the creek, he was okay).

    Diilun had been colicky, the vet had been and given him drugs, and he was looking a lot better. I wanted to keep a close eye on him overnight though, so I shut him in a grassy yard with my mare for company. I decided to sleep in my swag next to the fence, so I could easily check him through the night. My mare lay down next to the fence and slept next me, so close she was nearly under the fence. (Diilun was fine).

    I've told this one before, so I'll copy and paste:
    "So I'm feeling pretty average when I arrive home last night, having spent the day bumping around in the bush for about 150km and trying not to share my lurgy (before driving 130km home). But I want to give my ponies cuddles, even if it is dark and I'm tired, so I head into the paddock - little mare sees me and yells out to say hi, comes over for her hug. Good mare. Head past where she's returned to grazing to start looking for the man, scout to the far end of the paddock, no little black duck. Come back to the little mare, wondering where he is. Start walking down to the dam and my mare cuts in front and trots along the dam wall and disappears behind a bush. I stumble along the same path, push past the bush and she's there waiting for me. Once I catch her up, she descends to the bottom of the wall and stops, watching again. I still haven't seen the man, so I slide down the slope to her. Soon as I'm at the bottom, off she trots again, so I follow on behind her. Come around the corner and she walks up to Diilun, gently touching him (to which he pins his ears), before turning back to face me, ears pricked. "Here he is!"

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  11. He sounds like a great horse! I always felt like Carlos knew when I wasn't 100% - whether sick or emotionally and he would always be so good when I wasn't 100%. When I was 100% is when he would act up and be spooky and buck a bunch lol

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    1. He is a great horse. I still miss him.

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  12. What a great story. Warms the heart. Horses are so amazing. I have heard of many stories like this and have a couple myself. Not quite as grand as this one though.

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    1. It was a different moment for sure. I'd love to hear your story.

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