Hippoi Athanatoi

Observing Horses

Today was, unfortunately, a theory lesson. Not that I don’t enjoy theory, because I do, but its always frustrating not to get my weekly dose of riding. Still, we had made some pretty interesting plans for this lesson last week.

The idea was to take a group of horses and let them loose in the arena to study how they interact. Since the ponies had done their lessons for today, we picked out four of them; Inca, Dark Digidoo, Ricki and Lisa. Digidoo is the leader of the ponies, and Lisa is the little grey outcast, whereas Inca and Ricki are of medium high rank.

As expected, Digidoo started giving Lisa a really hard time almost right off. He chased her round and round the arena, since the arena apparently wasn’t large enough to chase her as far away from the others as he would have liked. Apparently she spends most of the time when out in the field some 200 metres or so away from the rest of the ponies. Eventually, however, he decided that having her stay in one of the corners was enough, and moved on to trying to charm Inca instead. She had been in season last week, and was still receptive enough that she allowed him to bite her flanks. He did try to mount her as well, but that earned him a swift kick.

It was, on the whole, quite interesting to observe the difference in behaviour between the two geldings. Although Ricki is lower in rank than Digidoo, he’s not particularly low-ranking overall, but he still didn’t display any of the posturing that Digidoo did. Apart from herding the other horses, often with his neck low and sort ofsnaky, he would also trot around all bouncy and almost at a passage with his neck arched and his tail up. Very stylish, and the instructor noted that she suspected he had been allowed to breed before he had been gelded. At one point, he spotted himself in the mirror, and stared at himself for a good long while before he decided that some fertilizing the ground was in order, just in case that was a rival.

After the horses had more or less settled their differences for the day, our instructor also showed us how the different horses reacted to demands from a human. Predictably, the lower ranking horses were quicker to obey, whereas Digidoo did his best not to have to do what he was told. I am hoping we’ll be able to do something more like this later on, perhaps focusing even more on how to make sure your own body language gives off the right signals.

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