Is this bad? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-28-2009, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Is this bad?

My horse is very curious with just about everything. The curiosity is genuine and she is cheerful and enthusiastic. She will watch you like a hawk if you leave her stall, she likes to check out what you're doing (even if you're mucking she will come and check it all out!), she likes to smell the brushes you're using, etc. She doesn't nicker when you come into the barn she neighs loudly! Today I was out in the pasture and the horses were playing like crazy, bucking and snorting and galloping a full speed, so I ran to get my camera and sure enough when I got back they saw me and quit playing to come over and say hello. Lily was fascinated with my camera. It's an older digital camera and makes lots of noises. She snorted and sniffed and snorted and sniffed. She was truly curious about it. Kind of like a kid checking out a new toy. I always enjoy seeing her mind work and wonder.

Someone told me that this isn't a good thing and that she doesn't NEED to be curious and that it is actually pre-nippy behaviour. I just have a hard time seeing it with her because our horse is super gentle and super sweet with people (unless you have a needle in your hand!). Lily was like this even when we went to look at her to buy - it was something I noticed then and liked because she has this happy inquisitive personality. She is not pushy or bossy at all.

Should I curb this and not let her check things out when I'm around or working with her? She is not like this when you're riding her although if she if feeling energetic she can be a little spooky. Any opinions?
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-28-2009, 11:58 PM
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I have never someone tell me that curious behavior will lead to nipping. I've never had a curious horse become nippy; if she's just watching, sniffing and checking things out there is nothing wrong with that. It's when they start getting mouthy and start trying to nibble on things then you start worrying about them getting nippy. That's a very strange thing to say and I would ignore that piece of advice.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 12:00 AM
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I personally wouldn't think there was anything bad about her being curious at all... I would think that it might help her be less spooky since she's so comfortable with new things...
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice - I think I will ignore the other. I guess some people like to be left alone when brushing, hanging out, or cleaning a stall. Not me. I really like having her around me. Lily isn't on top of me, but likes to know what I'm doing all the time. I actually really enjoy that part of Lily's personality. She seems to enjoy having her mind engaged and unfortunately I don't get to ride or work with her too much this time of year. Between rain/snow and frozen ground we're very limited. So, if she's interested in cameras and frozen poop so be it. :roll:
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 12:44 AM
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Just a habit I've had for years but, it does seem to have a calming influence.
I allow my Horses to sniff their brushes, tack, just about anything (safe) that is going to be touching or getting near to them. Compared to hurrying, or not allowing them to "Identify" Items they seem Interested in, it's a better bet they will be more accepting of anything new. As to my cameras (I am a photographer by trade) I only allow a "close" distance to the cameras, as they cost as much as the Horses do...If they cannot damage or dirty them, I find the curiosity also makes for good photos... I truly believe the sense of smell in Horses is far more powerful than Imagined...they Identify with one another or us by smell...Have you ever gently blown your breath into your horses nose? Carefully try it, and if he returns the breath (nasally), you are now cataloged into his permanent memory...The way he would do it naturally..I hope that has added some Insight
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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Loosewolf - Funny you should say that about blowing in their noses. My little ritual is to blow into Lily's nose the minute I go into the barn and she's in her stall. She sees me walk in and neighs (no nickering around here!) then she puts her nose up to the bars and we both gently blow. I don't know what made me start doing that it just seemed happen automatically and I figured it was harmless. I don't get to see her daily so it's nice to have a little ritual when I do get to see her. Do you really think it imprints? It's pretty cool if it does!
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 01:29 AM
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Yes I believe it does...If I go back to a Horse I haven't seen for a long time, and he looks at me as if to say, "do I know you"? we do the breathe ritual, he gets relaxed quickly....Works for me...So I do it to all of them I encounter alot...One thing to remember, try to ensure that Lilly understands that you are coming into Her SPACE, and Lilly coming into your space should be carefully controlled, or you may find down the road that She may take the cute factor into unintentionally dominant behavior, or even Injurious behavior...They must always know (for your and Her benefit) that you are ONE RANK over Her...only then are they fully contented and relaxed that you are in control..
Herd/prey Instincts, thats how they have survived as a species, and how they like it, and know how it all works... That's their version of full trust..

Don't let that stop the Enjoyment, I spend more time on the ground, than I really do in the saddle, if I added the time up...Bonding is more than half the fun for me....
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 01:45 PM
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Breathing into each others nose is how horse's greet each other. I bet she thinks you are a very polite herd member.

Lily is lucky to have someone like you who doesn't want to take the personality out of her. Enjoy every interaction you can, each one is so special and makes your bond just that much stronger.

IF nipping ever does become an issue, not that I think being interested in what's going on around her and you allowing it will cause nipping, then deal with that as a separate issue.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 02:26 PM
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Both my horses are very curious. They check out everything. You can't do anything without them coming up to see what is going on. I would much rather have a horse that is curious about new things and wants to investigate it than one that spooks just because something has changed in their environment.

Both my horses are very people oriented and enjoy human company. They can be a pain sometime when you are trying to get things done but if you tap either of them on the chest they move out of your way.

I really don't think being curious leads to nipping. Treat giving has the potential to lead to nipping though as far as I am concerned.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-29-2009, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
I personally wouldn't think there was anything bad about her being curious at all... I would think that it might help her be less spooky since she's so comfortable with new things...

I agree with the above opinion. Walka is very curious, almost to the point of being a pain in the neck. However, that curiousity has really aided him in that his first reaction to anything new is "what's that" and not "Oh my god!" . He is not nippy at all and is very polite when meeting new people, as long as they pay attention to him first (he'll actually push T out of the way to get attention).

I think you are very lucky to have a curious horse.
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