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Old 09-29-2011, 08:07 PM  
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Aes, I love your story too.

You know, all we can do as humans is try to explain horses in our language and so of course it'll sound anthropomorphic, what else can we do? I gotta figure horses think about us in equinomorphic terms and don't always get us right either. So we'll really never know, now will we?

And as far as that "alpha leader" stuff goes, I just don't know about that. Or maybe its like Mark Rashid explains, there are all kinds of different leaders, some are pushy and others aren't. I'm not a lead mare kinda guy, I'm more of kinda ofa "ask and wait" in a quiet way. Sometimes I worry that I'm not "leaderly" enough but I'm still in one piece so I guess that says something. Its funny, Peaches will do for me what she won't for Gerald and Gerald is far and away a better rider and leader than I could ever hope to be. So there has to be some kind of equine compassion going on I suppose.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:26 PM  
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I agree, EA, that horses react to yelling, but I don't consider that it produces any positive results
Nothing to me looks more un horsemanship like, then to see a frustrated owner yelling and waving their arms at a horse, rather than thinking what part of the horse is being resistant, and address that part/ action in a calm and clear manner, using the age old reward of release from pressure when the horse responds correctly
I don't think a horse pouts after being yelled at, but rather shuts down, refusing to interact with someone that isn't clear and concise in what they want, but rather resorts to yelling and meanlingless body language
My step dad had a terrible temper and would rant and rave at times. I didn't learn much during those episodes, except to stay out of his way and gage his moods.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:49 PM  
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My last gelding would whinny when he heard my car. He was boarded, so I only fed him when I covered the barn for the manager. Generally when I came it was to ride or mess with him. But everyone else in the barn commented on how he knew the sound of my car (couldn't see cars from his stall) and reacted to it differently then "feed coming".

I think horses may perceive us as "one of their buddies" especially if they are only ridden and "messed with" by one person. When we're alone with them riding or whatever, we are the "mate/buddy". Maybe not "love", but it IS an attachment.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:42 AM  
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I know that horses/mules experience emotions like excitement, fear, and anxiety. They can also be playful, calm, confused, impatient, and agressive. But getting "their feelings hurt" implies an assault to their own identity and a sense of personal rejection. I can say there has only been one time when I think I actually saw this emotion.

When we first got Buddy as a 4 year old (still with his mom, solo foal), he had absolutley no social/herd manners. The first thing he tried to do was nurse on the alpha mare! (Like THAT happened!) The two mares (1 horse, 1 mule) had to set him straight and teach him proper manners. They punished him mercilessly when he misbehaved. He was so bitten up that it looked like he had been abused. But they were 100% fair and he deserved every one (like when he snuck up and bit the alpha mare on the butt while she was sleeping.) Come on, you just don't DO that to the alpha mare.

Besides punishing him physically, the alpha would sometimes inflict the most horrible punishment of all - banishment. She would drive him away and make him go to "time out" until he was contrite. Buddy would stand apart, head down, with the most dejected, confused, hurt look in his eyes, like a whipped puppy who doesn't know what he did to deserve such treatment. I felt so sorry for him like this - he had been rejected by the most important individual in his life - the alpha mare. He was psychologically defeated, and THIS is when I would swear that his feelings were hurt.

But now for another question - do horses feel satisfaction in revenge????? One of Buddy's favorite tricks now is opening the alpha mare's pen. Of course she will go in, and then he fastens the latch and she can't get out. PLAY TIME!!!!! She falls for this EVERY time, and you can just see the look in Buddy's eyes, "Ha! Got her!" (But she can't think through it far enough to understand that he just put HER in timeout without her even knowing it.)
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:33 PM  
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You are trying to apply human type emotions to a horse. No, I do not believe horses get their feelings hurt
They can become resentful if the correction is not timed correctly, so that they have no idea why you gave them that reprimand.
Horses also don't like to be picked at. Correct them once, good enough to get the point across , and then leave them alone. This is esp. important when han dling studs
The horse that stands there, upset while hubby rides the other horse-is the horse then alone, thus missing his buddy? Is riding time associated with treat time? For instance, do you feed your horses some grain or other treats while tacking up?
Most times, if you stop applying those human type emotions to horses, and instead view what you are seeing, based on the nature of a horse, then often you will realize what you see might not be what is actually the motivation
We love to think that our horses 'love' us, and would rather be with us, just like adog, than their own kind
This is simply not so. Horses prefer the company of other horses.They can be trained to accept us as substitutes, when we interact with them, either riding or handling them, but truth be known that horses have two main motivations (three if they are intact ). Breeding, eating and stability in a herd of their own kind.
Good insight, Slim!
I have not gotten chance to read through whole thread yet, but this I think is a pretty good analogy.......often someone will think a horse is "protecting" them in certain dangerous situations, ( this is just one that comes to mind ) but it is usually self preservation, or instinct that they are acting on...and if a human happens to benefit the action then great, but horses are far from dog's, who will, and can put their own life on the line to protect a human, in certain situations,
I blame movies for a lot of these feelings/thoughts...( that horses protect/love/feel emotion...)
I really do not know if people that feel strongly that horses do these things, based on "love and/or loyalty" .....will ever see/feel differently, something that comes to mind is I had an owner send me her filly for 90 days, this filly had been bottle fed by her, and only her, she had not only bottle fed her, but played with her/stayed with her many hours, in her field/stall....she did not believe in discipline what so ever, so this filly was major out of control/spoiled, she, and I had some really big battles for a while, she was not sensitive, or kind.....I had to be quite firm, in correcting some of her problems.....she came around pretty well....and I will lavish lots of kind treatment on a horse when they are trying, and willing...which is how she became for the most part....her owner did not come see her for first 3 weeks, when she did come, we both went into her stall ( with filly loose ) she visited with us, but when I moved around in stall, the filly stayed with me....following me around on her own accord, her owner said "oh you like her now" ...I tried to explain that there is not a loyality to a certain person......there is just respect, and acceptance/expectations, for who feeds them, or gives them treats, or takes them outside, or pats them on the neck, and makes them respect........I think this owner kinda finally saw that.....as it was so obvious.....but sometimes people do not have situations like this to see what happens....
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:03 PM  
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K here is another story. My horse and I are learning to jump. Picture chubby cowhorse throwing herself over fences with mid-thirties wannabe flailing about on top. Pretty picture, right? So last night I cantered her into a fence that was bigger than either of us have ever jumped.....she doesn't know what she's doing and neither do I so she jumped WAY bigger than she needed to, I wasn't expecting it and didn't release on time so I got dragged out of the saddle and landed on her neck. I have seen other people do this and the horse usually kind of freaks out or at least keeps running and the person falls off because the horse is upset and you have no reins or leg or control.

My horse put her head way up in the air, held me on her neck, stopped and froze in place, and let me get off her. Then I got back on with no fanfare, no snorts, and we tried again.

And that's the second time she's done that. (Yeah I know, quit jumping you big wannabe). But THAT really seems as though she was trying to preserve MY hide and not hers. HER instinct should be, 'crazy lady on my neck! RUN FOR THE HILLS!'
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:20 PM  
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@ smilie - funny you should mention that horse's don't quite understand yelling. Just the other day, I watched someone get their foot stomped by their horse. They screamed and yelled at the horse calling it every name and quaint Anglo-Saxon anatomical reference in the book. Rather than being surprised, scared or offended, the horse just stood there, raised an eyebrow in Spoc like fashion (literally) and looked at the screaming human as if to say, "Fascinating".

A fun thing to do with a horse is to say absolutely nothing at all when you ride. IOW, don't talk to the horse - it usually results in the horse getting highly suspicious and extraordinarily obedient.
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:35 PM  
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K here is another story. My horse and I are learning to jump. Picture chubby cowhorse throwing herself over fences with mid-thirties wannabe flailing about on top. Pretty picture, right? So last night I cantered her into a fence that was bigger than either of us have ever jumped.....she doesn't know what she's doing and neither do I so she jumped WAY bigger than she needed to, I wasn't expecting it and didn't release on time so I got dragged out of the saddle and landed on her neck. I have seen other people do this and the horse usually kind of freaks out or at least keeps running and the person falls off because the horse is upset and you have no reins or leg or control.

My horse put her head way up in the air, held me on her neck, stopped and froze in place, and let me get off her. Then I got back on with no fanfare, no snorts, and we tried again.

And that's the second time she's done that. (Yeah I know, quit jumping you big wannabe). But THAT really seems as though she was trying to preserve MY hide and not hers. HER instinct should be, 'crazy lady on my neck! RUN FOR THE HILLS!'
Stories like this do make a person think...."what are they thinking" or what are they "aware" of...( like a person coming off....for us that can mean pain/maiming/death.........but can a horse ? ) Or does a horse ever realize, or connect the danger for human on top factor/hitting ground.....I do not think they can....as this is not something their brain would be able to comphrehend.....now of course you've got an extremely strong prey instinct, for something being on top of them.....i.e. saddle/person/etc. of course that is what makes the job of breaking/training interesting sometimes.......or if they have not been really,really desensitized, and/or are not the quiet type, then no doubt someone coming off/hanging on/etc. can be very scary for them......

I think that different personality types, and how "broke" they are sometimes, is the big factor in whether a horse freaks out when their rider is in trouble, or if they freeze/remain calm...etc. you see a lot of what "type" you have when breaking/training one....but sometimes other things can let you know....little things like if a horse gets it's leg caught in a fence, some will seriously hurt themselves flailing/panicking, where others will freeze....and even stand there 3 legged waiting to be rescued.......I think they obviously know when something is wrong.....like a person hanging on their neck.....but they all have different mind sets...about what they do, when something "wrong" happens.

P.S. the leg in the fence thing is just one...I've seen horses get into accidents with tack issues, or people issues, and they'll sometimes freeze, and sometimes flip out completely...and the ones that flip out can be the most kind/gentle horse otherwise...the type that seem to "love" people .......( Arabs included in this category...lol...)

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Old 09-30-2011, 06:32 PM  
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I don't know. I think horses have a better grasp of 'cause and effect' than we give them credit for. Horses, and I can say this from a lot of observation of horses, have a concept of their own mortality (there's along story to that one).

I suspect that horses contemplate the past and plan for the future beyond just the few seconds that comprise the 'present'. Of course, I only say that because I spend more time around horses that I spend around humans. I've concluded that humans are quite simple and horses are complex. I suspect horses understand us better than we understand them.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:27 AM  
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I don't know. I think horses have a better grasp of 'cause and effect' than we give them credit for. Horses, and I can say this from a lot of observation of horses, have a concept of their own mortality (there's along story to that one).

I suspect that horses contemplate the past and plan for the future beyond just the few seconds that comprise the 'present'. Of course, I only say that because I spend more time around horses that I spend around humans. I've concluded that humans are quite simple and horses are complex. I suspect horses understand us better than we understand them.

I like that.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:51 AM  
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I think their really, really strong "emotion" is jealously. They get jealous when they're not the center of attention, when they aren't fed first, when they don't go out with the other horses. Being a herd animal makes the "me first" instinct very strong.

I think they have their favorite herd (horse and human) members based solely on their interaction with those members. I can tell when they are content with their world but I don't think that is the same as happy.

As far as grieving death, perhaps they stay over a downed/dead horse simply trying to understand what's happening. The same way some people gawk at a car accident.
I have seen jealousy, even though I am not much of a believer in other "thoughts and emotions" that people sometimes put on their horses, when it is actually just programming/instinct/personality/training/etc.

I had an Arab mare, that was just a total pet, she was bonded to me very closely....I had bought her from her breeder, and she had very little human interaction before I bought her, so she became mostly a one handler/owner horse ( me ) .....
well I had an Arab gelding come in for training, and my personal, and training horses I tried to turn out together if possible, she and this gelding were fine together....until she was in her stall one day when I was grooming him, and getting him ready to work....her stall was a little bit down the aisle, and stalls were solid fronted ( wood/bars ) but she stood sideways with her eye pressed into bars, to try and watch/see...it put her in a very awkward spot, as it was a strain to see.....she watched intently the whole time, and nickered, every so often, when I would glance her way.....she did this every time she was in her stall, and I was messing with him......she could care less about any other people/horses around, or coming/going, and she was not attached to this gelding at all.......when I put them out together first time after her watching our interaction ( she had been turned out with him before this, with no problems ) she attacked him, almost running him through a couple fences, I immediately had to rescue him, and remove him......she could not be turned out anymore with horses, that she saw me working with.....( but she was fine with horses that I did not do much with )
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:30 PM  
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I have a couple of stories about loyal horses. First of all, I have had about 3 horses that made darn sure I never fell off. I really love those kinds of horses. You have that feeling that you are past the point of no return and you are coming off . . . and suddenly your wonderful beloved horse is back under you . . . and all is well. One time my good good mare that I broke and trained myself from a youngster did that when I was riding her bareback in the woods. I was petting her and telling her how great she was . . . and she leaped sideways, dropped her shoulder and tossed me off! Just to show me she could! She never did that again. I kept her all her life and she always (except for that one time) made sure I stayed "rider on top" no matter what.

I owned another remarkable horse that I broke and trained as a colt. He was 6 years old and I had never come off him. One day I let my brother ride him, he spooked, and my brother came off. My mother heard him galloping down the street toward our house. When he got to our gate, he hesitated, spun around and galloped back to my brother. My mother saw it. Just when he got to the main road where my brother was walking home, a car came and hit him . . . killed him. We'll never know why he went back for my brother, who had only ridden him a few times in his life. But he was a very special horse.

A few years later I bought a yearling mare to replace him. When I started riding her as a young foxhunter, she made an error in judgement navigating a ditch, fell badly, and injured me. I didn't know the way back to the trailers, so the rich young daughter of the estate escorted me back. On the way, she lectured me about how I should not be training a young horse in the hunt field. I should BUY a seasoned hunter if I was going to foxhunt. I already felt horrible--it was a bad injury, my mare had made a stupid mistake, and her name was Magic Fox because she was meant to be my foxhunting horse. When we got back to the trailers, I asked the teenager to hold my mare a minute while I limped and fumbled my way to get my stuff to go home. I heard a loud whinny, my mare jerked away from the girl and ran to me to put her head on my shoulder, hugging me tightly. I looked at the girl and said coldly, "Money can't BUY that." I rode her all her life and only came off of her one time (she was surprised as I was about that), but several times she put herself back under me on foxhunts and rides.
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:53 PM  
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These are SUCH interesting aspects and stories! I love them and I'm glad I asked.
Here's my take...

After reading and thinking about it, I don't think horses get their feelings "hurt" necessarily. They don't think back and think "Wow, it made me sad that they rode that other horse instead of me..etc."
However, I do think they feel very in the moment! And I think maybe the DO get a little jealous if you are petting another horse first or that type of thing!

My only experience...Twister knows very well she is mine, no one else ever messes with her! In the pasture, she used to never come to me. However, if I would start petting another horse, you can bet your money she was heading my way!
Also, she used to be very difficult to catch, but the other day she came to me in the pasture and followed me around as I visited the other horses. Made me a happy girl!
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:43 PM  
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Perhaps the take away message here is; its good to be able to know your own horse(s) and be able to predict their behavior.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:53 AM  
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I have to disagree that horses 'just live in the moment'. If horses can call out to their babies for days, when separated....grieve for a lost companion.....for months....that is NOT living in the 'moment'.

A lot of folks would like to deny the existance of emotions in horses, but they DO experience the same emotions that a person does...they also have all the same sensations a person does. They're just not people!

I really wish people would stop denying these animals emotions, to justify their interactions with them.
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Old 10-02-2011, 10:00 AM  
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Horses have horse memories and emotions not human ones. Human beings have a tough enough time understanding their own thoughts and emotions let alone another human being. I can't imagine anyone having the audacity to say that they are an expert in the complex of emotions and cognition of another species. I'm also pretty certain no one here denied horses memory or emotion. This has been a discussion on the interpretation of the behaviors horses exhibit not the denial of the expression. Just tryin' to clarify the discussion.
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Old 10-02-2011, 06:30 PM  
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I think they can have most human feelings. I would also say love but more of a mother child or best friend kind of love.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:04 PM  
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Well my awesome horse took off at a dead gallop with some bucks thrown in there when I rode her in the warm up ring before a show today, the little jerk. So who knows.

I had my husband hold her near the tack room while I unsaddled her after the show and he remarked how intently she watches my every move, he said she just stared at me wherever I went. So there is some kind of bond I'm pretty sure....
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:47 AM  
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On the idea of a prey/predator instinct.... the first time I went over a jump and fell forward onto my horse's neck she was scared and dropped her head to get me off. She then calmly trotted away. Since that had never happened before, she probably had no idea what was going on and her "fight or flight" instinct kicked in. I got back on and finished the course. The second time it happened (tried jumping a little bigger, with scaaaaaaary bushes and boxes under the jump) was when she decided to jump it from a dead stop and I came out of my tack and was literally riding on the base of her neck. She reacted more the way that AES' does, and slowed right down and kept her neck up to keep me on. So at some level she had to have remembered what happened last time and realized that a) the arena doesn't have bears in it and b) it was just me on her neck. And that making me fall off will definitely not get her any treats
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:01 AM  
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On the idea of a prey/predator instinct.... the first time I went over a jump and fell forward onto my horse's neck she was scared and dropped her head to get me off. She then calmly trotted away. Since that had never happened before, she probably had no idea what was going on and her "fight or flight" instinct kicked in. I got back on and finished the course. The second time it happened (tried jumping a little bigger, with scaaaaaaary bushes and boxes under the jump) was when she decided to jump it from a dead stop and I came out of my tack and was literally riding on the base of her neck. She reacted more the way that AES' does, and slowed right down and kept her neck up to keep me on. So at some level she had to have remembered what happened last time and realized that a) the arena doesn't have bears in it and b) it was just me on her neck. And that making me fall off will definitely not get her any treats
You probably freaked her out the first time yes......but I think she loves you quite honestly. I'm thinking she didn't have the best life before coming to our barn!
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