Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When horses dislike people

Yesterday I was able to cram in a short visit with my horse. I went out to the barn in the early afternoon to take off his blanket (it took forever to get up above 15 degrees!), and stayed to groom and play with him a little.

Panama seemed to be glad for the attention, and approached me willingly when I arrived. Interestingly, though, when I had him tied up and was getting ready to take off his blanket, the barn owner walked over — and Panama immediately tensed up.

I've tried not to read too much into his resistance to being handled by the barn owner, but I wonder if I am missing something here. I've always assumed it was because the barn owner is so clumsy with the horses, and his bumbling movements scare Panama. Or because I'm generally the only one to handle Panama (which is why we've been practicing having Michael halter him).

However, I'm not so sure Panama's reactions to other people — such as my farrier — support the second theory. The first theory is still a possibility, but I am wondering now if there is a bit of a personality conflict going on here.

Don't get me wrong — I don't think the barn owner is doing anything to hurt or intentionally frighten Panama. I think it would be pretty obvious to me if he was. But I do think there's something about the owner that makes Panama wary.

Nuzzling Muzzles, another blog I follow, recently posted on whether horses are instinctive judges of people. I think it's a valid theory. The barn owner is a nice guy, but there are certain things I dislike about him (mainly some evidence here and there that he doesn't really know much about horses). Panama might be picking up on my feelings, but quite frankly I think he caught on first — he was running away from the owner before I even started noticing the things I disliked.

I don't think either Panama or I dislike the barn owner enough to justify moving him, especially since everything else about the place is great. However, it is definitely something to be aware of!



At January 28, 2009 at 6:10 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That's a good example.

At January 28, 2009 at 8:27 PM, Blogger Rising Rainbow said...

I think horses tell us when they are uncomfortable with certain people. Some of us pay attention to that and others don't even notice. Looks to me like Panama is a lucky horse since you're one of those who's noticed.


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