Morning feeding: Dan said Phil was very agitated this morning. He reported Phil was very respectful and polite, but tossed his head and danced around at the furthest end of his pen. As long as Phil was having a mini meltdown in his own space and showed no disrespectful behavior towards Dan there wasn’t a need for a correction. Dan said Phil was very submissive when he asked him to come to his food dish. Phil spent the night in the rain and is having a rough time learning how to be a horse.
Does Phil know how to be a horse completely? Since I do not know how much time Phil spent in a herd situation before weaning or after, I can only make some assumptions based on Phil’s current “horse knowledge.” Phil’s previous owner reported that Phil was repeatedly kicked by the other horse he was pastured with. The owner reported that “Phil wanted to play and the other horse did not.” What I really think was going on was that Phil lacks some horse social skills and he did not respect the other horse’s space or Alpha position. In a herd situation it only takes one good kick to send the message to a lower subordinate because the one receiving the message knows what will come next. Phil did not seem to get this message. This behavior is often seen in orphan, nurse maid colts, colts that weren’t raised with other colts and colts hand raised by humans. From observing Phil I note that he doesn’t know how to face his back to the wind and tuck his head. He is the only horse out in the rain that is standing face into the storm while all my horses are hunkered down into back towards wind position (no wonder why he had such an awful night). I hope that my herd can teach him. If you think about it for a minute our OTTBs have lived a unique life away from a herd for the most part. As far as horse behavior, we cannot rehabilitate our horses if they have never been habilitated in the first place.
Evening feeding: I saw what Dan saw this morning with Phil tossing his head in an agitated manner. At first I was puzzled because it had stopped raining and there weren’t any gnats or flies. I watched Phil for a few minutes and noticed the breeze carried off the water on the leaves and a brief shower hit Phil on the head. I put Phil’s fly mask back on (previously taken off due to rain) and Phil was content.
Take the time to really observe your horse in his environment without the human directing his actions and you’ll learn so much about your horse.