Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

piedmontfields
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Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:00 am

Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you? In particular, I'm talking about non-horse to horse type gestures (not routine horsey language). Discuss.

I'll share my stories in the thread!

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby heddylamar » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:04 am

How do you mean? Maia head butts if she wants a scratch, Anzia stretches her neck around me. When I hit the right itchy spot, Anzia has her neck stretched around me, and the near side back leg lifted.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:18 pm

A typical example from Emi: She has a boo boo (scrape/bite/something else minor) and is not lame but it might be something that is uncomfortable or just not right. She wants me to check out the boo boo and take care of it. I would probably find it while grooming, but in those cases she usually waves a leg or walks sideways to me when I go to get her to show me "the thing." As soon as I recognize it, she goes back to normal behaviors.

Sometimes this is very dramatic ("I can't lift that leg!" "I can't walk!" "Only one eye works!"). I've learned that she is simply communicating with dumb me.

Last night was especially amusing: I show up to her paddock and she calls out "Thank goodness you're here" aka happy/anxious whinny. As I head into the paddock, I ask her what's up. She shakes her head dramatically, then stares at me. Repeats. I say (finally), oh, you've lost your fly mask and are unhappy! She then walks calmly up to me and places her head in my hands. No more head shaking since the problem has been identified. It's very funny! Luckily she has the kind of owner who has a back up fly mask in the tack room :-)

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby PhoenixRising » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:14 pm

We have one horse at the barn who flaps his bottom lip for cookies. We have another that makes silly "fart" noises with his mouth to get your attention. Phoenix will look directly at you and start pawing if she feels you're not paying her enough attention (you can actually see it in her face that she's not agitated or worried or bored, merely annoyed you're not currently catering to her).
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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Rockabilly » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:37 pm

Mine would come to me to smack horseflies off of them. They would even come galloping up from the pasture. They did lots of communicating about other things too.

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Rosie B
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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:56 pm

Bliss will point to his itchy spots with his nose. Princess will point with her nose the direction that she wants to go when I'm leading her. Bliss will also pick up the water bucket and carry it to the gate and stand there with it in his mouth if he wants more water.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:02 pm

My horse will stand statue-still and give me a soul-stealing stare to indicate a treat is required.

piedmontfields
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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:26 pm

Rosie B wrote: Bliss will also pick up the water bucket and carry it to the gate and stand there with it in his mouth if he wants more water.


This is adorable (and very smart!). My pointer dogs also use gestures when their water bowl is empty (lick lips, stare at human, stare at water bowl in the other room, repeat).

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Rosie B » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:57 pm

Piedmond - I am not sure how smart he is.... given that it's usually empty because he dumped it himself. :mrgreen:

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby demi » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:28 am

Rocky does a deep bow stretch for breakfast, and smiles pretty for dinner.
Image

piedmontfields
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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby piedmontfields » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:51 am

OMG, that makes me even more of a Rocky fan :-D What a mare.

Rosie, that is funny. Emi would probably sigh and turn her butt at Bliss for that behavior (her usual response to gelding silliness). Tonight Em had liberated herself of the new fly mask, but was unconcerned. Go figure.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Rockabilly » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:56 pm

demi wrote:Rocky does a deep bow stretch for breakfast, and smiles pretty for dinner.
Image


He has a beautiful smile and so photogenic!

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Sue B » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:13 pm

My mare, Erin, used to come up to the house and whinny for me if someone in her herd of 4 geldings was injured. She would also bang on the water trough if it needed refilled. (She died awhile ago now, so I'm probably forgetting other communications.) Rudy whinnies and gallops to the nearest gait if his ug spray has worn off and I'm outside. Both of them are also not shy about showing me where they need a good skritching.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby kande50 » Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:12 pm

I don't clicker train our Halflinger much, but I did capture the flapping lips and put it on cue. The grandkids love it, but they're still learning that they need to wait until she finishes chewing before she can do it again. :-)

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Koolkat » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:34 pm

KK (who always had a very itchy belly/sweet itch) would look at you, curl around, lift up her hind leg and point to her belly with her nose. She would also hug you when you stood under her neck, pulling you close to her.

Our nutty gelding, Woody, who was wicked smart (houdini at getting out of stall and then letting other horses loose), was very mouthy. He would stretch his head toward you, twist his neck, and make faces or loll his tongue. He would also shake his head very fast (up and down/yes gesture) when excited by his interaction with you, it was hilarious when he would also hang his tongue out and there would be loud pops as it hit his face. He was a true character and made us laugh often with his antics and the way he would trick the 2 mares he lived with to get his way.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Backyarder » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:40 pm

My older mare lifts her hind leg and looks at her belly if she wants her udder scratched...and she may be out in the pasture 20 feet away from me....she licks her lips when she wants fresh water...her's might be warm....or butts the water tub with her nose.

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Re: Does your horse use gestures to communicate with you?

Postby Literiding » Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:14 pm

I’ve been a bit scare because of a “significant, chronic sinus infection.” Right now I’m taking antibiotics at a small horse’s dose and have two weeks more to go.

One of the joys of owning stallions is that they are always trying to tell you something. Geldings tend to accept the world as it is. It is what it is. Mare watch how things develop and if the results do not meet their approval, the get grumpy(ier!). But a stallion is always trying to affect the world around himself and one of the first lessons that is so hard to learn is that “NO” is a valid answer. Horses occasionally also have a sense of humor though it tends toward the slapstick form.

I had a wonderful Andalusian grey stallion that I had taken from first backing and was working on stuff at fourth and Pre St. George when a “grey melanoma” took him away at 19. Being an IT executive meant when upgrading a computer system, you got lots of after hours in the office so your work on the mainframe didn’t interfere with production. One summer while managing a system upgrade, I engaged a young lady (young is a relative term, she had a five year old daughter in tow) to do my afternoon feed and clean stalls. One afternoon I got off a bit early and got home only slightly later than normal. The young lady had fed and was cleaning my stallion’s stall. Being a stallion, the poop was all in one pile on the other side of the stall from his hay pile so she had her back to his rump as she filled the wheel barrow. As we made small talk, I was admiring her legs, she was wearing what I believe are called “Hot Pants” and a lot of leg was showing. I wasn’t the only one who noticed either. My stallion pulled his face out of the hay pile and gave me a look that I couldn’t interpret. In retrospect, I think he was saying, “Watch this!”

He turned around in the stall, carefully examined the young lady’s back. Then his eyes got very soft and ran his muzzle whiskers down the back of her left leg. Of course this produced a piercing shriek, and the young lady leaped into the corner to face an 1100 lb stallion laughing at her. Since the muzzle whiskers down the leg had worked so well, he chased her all around the stall trying to get to her legs and she was defending her honor with the manure fork. He was so determined, that she had to start tying him to clean his stall. A couple weeks later, when I was cleaning his stall, felt a muzzle running down the back of my leg. Since I was wearing full length jeans, I just turn to him and asked, “Yes?”

I got the, “Never mind look,” and he went back to his hay. He lived a decade or more after this and he never did it again although in the local horse people community, he was known as a stallion that was a, “Leg man.”

His stall was developing the crater that is the reason stall mats were invented. So I had a dump truck load of clay in the farm yard and the new mats were in the back of the pick-up. Luck would have it, on the Friday, before the weekend that I was going to fill his stall and put in the mats, it poured rain and the stall flooded and he was splashing around in about two inches of water in the very center of his stall. When I came out for the Saturday morning feed, I found him with back feet firmly planted where they hay is normally thrown and he was facing the back corner of the stall. He started pointing to the slightly drier corner next to the poop pile and shaking his nose to indicate where I was to throw the hay. Since as soon as he was fed, I was going to strip the stall (with him in it) and fill the crater I didn’t want him in the way so I wanted the hay in the normal place. For the next 30 or 40 seconds, we argued about where to put the hay. He finally gave in, with the “stupid human” look on his face and cleared the hay corner.

By noon, the crater had been filled, leveled, new mats put down and re-bedded. I had taken him out of his stall for the few minutes to lay the mats and re-bedded the stall and the rest of his breakfast was in the normal corner for hay. He came in quite happy with the new DRY bedding but some how, he figured out that the hay was on a stall mat and he wouldn’t step on that mat. As I laughed at him, he uncovered another mat by the stall door just moving around in the stall. Spying the small patch of black showing through the bedding, he carefully pawed the bedding out of the way and exposed even more mat. About that time he figured out that the whole stall was now covered in stall mats. He reached out and bit the offending mat, “Not nice to fool Mother Nature.”


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