Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watching Horses Isn't Half as Fun as Riding Them

So on Sunday I sat in my parents' house for 3 hours watching our 5 geldings stuff their faces with hay for my "social behaviour during feeding ethogram" for my animal behaviour course. I love my horse and I enjoy watching him, but after about 20 minutes I started to get stir crazy. There's only so long you can sit on chair, staring out the window and occasionally writing notes such as "4 approaches 5, 5 moves away" or "5 walks past 1, 1 pins ears" without starting to wonder how people can possibly do this for a living. I just had to keep remembering the people going even more boring things, like resting behaviour in dairy cattle.

On the bright side, after watching the horses eat all morning, my dad and I then trailered over to our neighbour's indoor arena to go for a ride. Scarface was fairly good, but he is out of shape from all the time off. He was pretty good while we worked on serpentines and figure 8s. The biggest problem we had was that he was being very dead-sided when I was asking for sidepasses or turns on the forehand. I think next time I will put on my spurs so that he can understand the aid better. I used to always ride with spurs, but since last summer I've been trying to stop using them, since they cause me to bring my heels up quite a bit, but I think he will recognize the aids more clearly with them, so we can establish what I want before going back to asking without spurs.

Once again, Scarfie was pretty good about being in the indoor arena, although we did have one little incident. I was too hot, so I was trying to go to the end of the arena near the viewing area to hang my coat on the fence. Scarface was being scared of the manure tub, so I was letting him have a look at it before asking him to go closer to the fence. While he was looking at the tub trying to decide if a goblin lived in it or not, the arena owner's wife walked into the viewing area and let the door slam closed behind her. This was too much for poor Scarfie and he did one of the fastest 180s of his life! I think he tries to be a reiner when he is scared, either doing a fast spin or backing up halfway across the arena. The arena owner then proceeded to call him "Scare-face" for the rest of the afternoon.


  1. I remember watching Shy and her paddock mate when I first got her. i was trying to get her used to the idea of me. It was quite boring!

  2. I LOLed at this. I studied Animal Behavior in school, and worked as a Behaviorist for a University. It was every bit as exciting as you have described, but I found it fascinating. Because I am the Biggest Nerd In The World.

    Remember that spurs are a more refined form of communication. They are not made to shout at the horse, but to whisper. The spurs extend the reach of your leg so that you can use a smaller movement to achieve the same goal.

  3. Allison: I love watching horses when they first are introduced to a new group, but these guys have know each other for ages, so they all know who they can bossy around and who they should stay away from, so no exciting arguments or anything!

    Shannon: I don't think I have the patience to be a behaviourist. I'm the kind of person who likes to be always doing something, not watching, especially when all they did was stuff their faces with hay!

    As far as spurs go, I used to ride with spurs all the time, so Scarface is used to them. However, now that I'm trying to ride without them, he seems to think he doesn't need to listen as much, so I'm thinking of bringing them in for a ride or two, then taking them away for a few so he knows he needs to listen either way. Or I may just use a crop, but he tends to buck a little because he doesn't like the crop very much yet.

  4. (I had to put this as a reply because as a normal comment the character check wouldn't load... )

    Lol about the long three hours ;) And poor Scarface! I can't blame him, that door slamming was bad timing! And lol, Daisy also showcases some great reining talent when she spooks ;)

  5. Ha, yeah I can see how that would be boring. I love going out in the field and watching them...but that involves getting mobbed by them and giving them attention. Just strictly watching them would be boring.

    Poor Scarface, he just can't seem to win.