Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Do horses like dogs?

It depends - on the experiences they've had. No horse likes being chased by a dog, but I've seen plenty of situations where horses and dogs play together, and I've seen dogs hang out in the stalls of very territorial stallions.

So, very much depends on the individual dog and the individual horse.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Can horses jump from a standing start?

Not very well or very high. They can to a point, but horses generally find it much easier and smoother to take a good run at it, and anything high (in relation to the horse) they need to. Mules, on the other hand, can and do jump their own height from a standing start.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Do horses have favorite treats?

Absolutely. I knew one horse who wasn't so keen on apples, but would do pretty much anything for a carrot. Another only liked "natural" treats and wouldn't touch candy or horse biscuits.

Horses definitely have food preferences - although most of them do, indeed, like apples and carrots. Oh, and the supposedly universal sugar lump? I've met more than one horse that hated them.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why are some horses scared of some things and not others?

I know a horse who is terrified of thunderstorms. I know another horse who will completely ignore them as long as you don't actually ask her to go out in the rain - and she'd probably do that too, except I wouldn't be that mean.

Why are some horses afraid of a stimulus and others not? And what determines what each horse is afraid of?

Basic personality does enter into it. Some horses scare more easily than others, and some horses are actually anxious in the true sense. However, it's more often a result of training. A horse can be trained to not be afraid of specific things - a process called "bombproofing" - and the trainer will generally focus on things likely to be an issue in that particular horse's life. For example, a show horse might be taught to ignore applause (although some show horses will prance - they know it's for them, trust me), whilst it's more important for a trail horse not to be scared of passing trucks.

Sometimes horses may have had some kind of bad experience that makes them scared of an object, a situation, even a color. A horse that's afraid of dogs may well have been chased by one. And occasionally a horse seems to have a genuine phobia - something they've never encountered before eliciting not just a spook but absolute terror. I've heard of horses being randomly afraid of cows, pigs, and even miniature horses - like, really? It's another horse, just small...

So, it's about the animal's personality and it's past and training.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What is the origin of the unicorn legend?

We don't really know - the unicorn doesn't appear in actual mythology, because people genuinely believed they existed. In fact, the earliest unicorns weren't even horses with horns, but were more like large goats. Narwhal tusks supported the legend until people realized they came from a kind of dolphin.

Another version described unicorns as being akin to wild asses. Rhinos, of course, have central horns, and oryxes often look like they do unless seen from the front (many think the oryx is the actual creature that started the story). Marco Polo described the unicorns he saw on his travels - and he had clearly seen a rhino.

Unicorns in fantasy may be horned horses, but the unicorn of legend is definitely something else. No equine species has had horns as a routine thing, although they do show up as an extremely rare mutation. Most likely the original unicorns were, then, just antelopes.

But it's nice to envision a fantasy unicorn.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Can stallions be ridden/driven with mares?

Absolutely - but both need a bit of extra training (Mares, especially when coming into heat, can be quite intentionally distracting to males - and not just the intact ones either). Despite their high sex drive, stallions can be trained to completely ignore mares in heat around them. It just takes a bit more work.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Is "horse whispering" real?

The idea of the "horse whisperer" who has magical control over horses may date back to the Celts. In the 19th century the Secret Society of the Horseman's Word claimed to have a "secret word" that would give you power over horses. More likely, they were closely guarding their training secrets.

These days, "horse whisperer" is often used to refer to a talented trainer who appears to have better control over horses without doing anything different (and who never uses harsh methods). More likely, it has to do with subtle aspects of body language than "magic" - but controlling a horse with body language alone is possible and quite a lot of people aspire to learn the knack.