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BudCap 01-07-2008 11:39 PM

Proof of a Horse's Emotions
I am posting this in the training section, because I feel emotions like this should be considered when training a horse.

In November of this past year my 29 year old arab mare, Fawn died quite suddenly. She was running around and eating fine the day before and the next day she was gone. My other horse Buddy took it hard, really hard, because Fawn was his only pasture mate. The man who keeps my horses for me found Fawn dead in the barn at night so he couldn't bury her until the next day. He laid her in the pasture and covered her with a tarp. Buddy stood by her all night, never leaving her side. When they buried Fawn the next day they had to tie Buddy up because he was so upset.

Fawn was buried out in the big 40 acre pasture. But Buddy was locked up in the little 3 acre pasture because it was deer hunting season and he is a buckskin. He spent most of time that week standing by the fence looking up at the spot where Fawn was buried. He would call her once in a while, but soon he stopped trying to call and just kept standing there looking up at her grave. He was a wreck, he would only eat when I offered him treats, he looked tired because he must not have been sleeping very well, and he would jump at every little noise which is odd for him because he is a pretty calm horse usually. I immediately started looking for another horse, because I didn't want Buddy to have to suffer with such depression. Buddy is only going on 11 years old. Now he is they type of horse you can take out alone on the trail and he will be just fine, but if you have him live alone I doubt he would live much past 15 years old.

Two weeks after Fawn died I had found another horse and arranged to have him brought on a Tuesday. The very day Cappy was suppose to arrive Buddy snapped and escaped (he has Houdini like skills, we still don't know how he got out) and ran away to the neighbor to hang out with her horses. After Cappy arrived I went down the road and got Buddy and introduced the two. They got along great from the get go and Buddy started getting back to normal.

So far you are probably thinking you have heard all this before and it just typical horse separated from its herd behavior. But after Cappy came something happened that I didn't even know horses had the mental capacity to do.

Once I brought Cappy home I thought that Buddy would completely forget about Fawn. I was wrong. Often Buddy will lead Cappy up to where Fawn is buried and they will stand there for an hour or more, just looking at her grave. I have heard of elephants doing this, but never horses. It is amazing that even when Buddy has a new friend, the still remembers Fawn and still misses her. It is also amazing that Buddy reaches out for another horse for support in his grief and that Cappy understands even though he never met Fawn. Some say that human emotions shouldn't be attributed to horses, but how can you not when they grieve like we grieve. They feel loss, love, friendship, anger, and sadness just the same as we do. So remember that when you are training your horse, he is more like you than you think.

Sorry this was so long.

cory-boy 01-08-2008 12:29 AM

That was the most touching story I have read in a long time, it brought a tear to my eye :cry: , just thinking of his pain he went thru. And how we are almost helpless on helping them though it. I know someday I will have to deal with it to. It just breaks my heart to see animals hurt. :cry: . I am happy to hear he found a new freind he can share his pain with.

kitten_Val 01-08-2008 06:48 AM

I do believe in animals emotion. I never seen anything like your story with horses (although I don't deal with them much until last couple years), but my dog turned all grey in week after my other one died of age.

Vidaloco 01-08-2008 08:02 AM

I am sorry for the loss of Fawn and I agree completely since I had the same situation with a yearling filly and a mare that died. I think they mourn the loss of their babys when they are sold too. I made a promise to my mare that I would never take away her baby and as long as I can maintain financially all 4 horses I will never seperate our mares from their babys. I will never breed them again either. They had been used as brood mares by the previous owner and every baby they had was sold.

TheStables 01-08-2008 03:10 PM

What a lovely and touching story. I have witnessed the same behavior at a previous barn that I used to board at. The pasture horses all stood around the grave for days. Another boarder had 2 older horses that I had been together since youngsters. They called to each other when separated, had to be stalled side by side to keep from driving everyone else crazy. When the mare died, the gelding stopped eating. He called for her constantly and was a wreck in the stall. He died 2 weeks later.

Frog 01-08-2008 04:47 PM

I've had similar experiences. The first was like your poor boy. My old pony died of cancer and was burried in his paddock and his mate of 16yrs stood by his grave day & night for two weeks. We had to feed him there and bring a bucket of water out cause he wouldn't move more than 5m from the sight. He was put down 2 months later after having snapped his leg whilst galloping around his paddock. Now both the boys are together on the same hill.

My other story is similar to one above, where I worked we had two old biddie broodmares who had been inseperable for as long as the stud owner could remember. They would eat, sleep, drink and even cycle together. When one girl passed from impaction colic, it was barely a week before the other girl passed. It was like she couldn't live without her friend.

It puts a whole new view on weaning foals and exactly how stressful it is for them both.

diamond zar 01-17-2008 08:33 AM

that actually made me cry :cry: thats unbeleivable! ur poor horse and that is so amazing and beautiful that he takes his friend and they mourn together... god that must have made it tuffer for u too... awwww im going to stop crying soon... :cry:

izzie 01-17-2008 09:41 AM

thats sooo sad im soo sorry :oops: :cry:

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