Horse psychology & fear ??? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-27-2020, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Horse psychology & fear ???

We have a 21 year old Holsteiner mare "Remi" since last summer. Original owner who had her, born in her stable, but the lady was getting older and unable to care for her...she had seven horses, this was the last she found owners for.
Our land the pastures go downhill through woods to a nice creek and spring pond, then up to a nice pasture, more woods other side.
What's strange is occasionally she'll drink from creek or pond, then over to other pasture but seems fearful of the woods.
On a hunter camera in woods I have seen everything, deer, turkey, coyote, even wolf and bear. Today I'm working in the woods some, but Remi wouldn't come close, staying near her stall.
When I walked back to barn she wouldn't come when I called her. We had to close gate to clean her stall but she stayed by gate looking fearfully into woods and very jumpy. I know horses have keen senses, could it be they know something we don't?
Curious what others thought or have experienced.


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post #2 of 14 Old 01-27-2020, 09:36 PM
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May just be overly cautious as a lone horse.
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-27-2020, 10:03 PM
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Mine will get looky when they hear cracks that signal branches fixing to come down. We hear that big final crack and the crash but they hear what leads up to it.
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-27-2020, 10:12 PM
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I always pay attention to where my horses are looking. I get to see more wildlife and alerted to an occasional person that way.
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 01:40 AM
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Mine will get that way any time anything changes within hearing or seeing range. Their latest was when the neighbor across the road turned his calves out into his hayfield. Hayfield adjoins their normal pasture so it's more of they got to spread out a little type of a situation instead of a totally new area type. Horses were freaked out for 2 days. Hunters moving around in the woods surrounding our property, loose ponies from down the road or bicycles going by on the road also puts them on high alert. On the other hand...they will graze with whitetails, have coyotes trot through the pasture practically under their feet, birds fly up right in front of their face, herds of motorcycles & 4-wheelers and large strange looking farm machinery either go by on the road or in the field next to them and none of those things even make them look.

Horses are just silly. Funny little tidbit, or maybe I'm easily amused, that happened a couple of days ago. The herd of 5 were coming into the barn to eat. 4 made it in with 1 taking a wrong turn when Cloud (1 of the 4) farted and they all spooked and ran out of the barn, including her. 5 - 10 minutes later they are all back in the barn including the errant one when a cat knocks over an empty 5 gallon bucket that creates a loud crash and then rattle as it goes rolling across the floor. Absolutely no reaction from the herd at all. In other words who knows what is going to set them off. LOL

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post #6 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 05:06 AM
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My mare freaks out if a pigeon farts 3 miles away sometimes so IDK. And yet she'll investigate a floating plastic bag, nose right in and rattling whatever around. I don't even need to turn around to know something is behind us. What is funny is when I'm on guard duty (patting out in the field) she'll go for a nap. If I rest against her and rest she'll be wide alert. But for sure I'll look wherever they look to see if its something interesting/to be worried about. Gives a chance to reassure them as well as in more dangerous parts of the world a heads up to danger. I prefer this sorta horse than one that explodes out of nowhere! Is yours alone? No way to get a companion? Most people couldn't stand to be alone (people who are independent and can choose their lifestyle is a different matter).
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 11:23 AM
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Always keep in mind horses are prey animals. They have evolved over the course of millions of years being on the menu. Horses like open areas where it's more difficult for a predator to be concealed, and they get eyebally/lookie looey in woods and near structures that can hide a predator (Old cellars with no door on it, hunting blinds, ancient abandoned barns, etc.).

Also keep in mind they can smell predators and where they've been, and will be on high alert/nervous. Yes, your horse knows something you don't and it worries her. In a group setting, they will feed each other's fear, worry, concern, and alertness - because that's how the herd survives. Horses will all try to look at what that first horse notices and goes on 'point' about. Like other riders, this is how I see 99% of the wildlife on our rides. I look where Trigger is looking.

There's only so much you can do about her discomfort with the woods and outdoors in general, because that's a horse for you. They're always expecting something to try to eat them. It's instinct. If she's a lone horse, those concerns are going to be magnified because there isn't a second or third or fourth (etc) set of eyes on watch. She may not relax much at all, ever, for this reason - in a herd setting, some horses will relax and lay down, take a nap, sleep on their feed, graze without concern because there are other horses on their feed, on guard/look out for threats. Without a partner to take turns on decompressing, she may stay keyed up.

She's smelling the predators on your place, and she's probably seen them and heard them personally, while you're experiencing just the images from a game camera. The night time is probably especially scary for her.

I'd recommend a pasture donk as a companion, or a second horse.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QtrBel View Post
Mine will get looky when they hear cracks that signal branches fixing to come down. We hear that big final crack and the crash but they hear what leads up to it.
Interesting about overly cautious as a lone horse and branches cracking. Both were happening yesterday since the neighbors horses were pastured out of sight and I had a very large tree fall partially over in woods. I cut it almost through then walked away letting nature take it down. Very dangerous tree.

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post #9 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
Always keep in mind horses are prey animals. They have evolved over the course of millions of years being on the menu. Horses like open areas where it's more difficult for a predator to be concealed, and they get eyebally/lookie looey in woods and near structures that can hide a predator (Old cellars with no door on it, hunting blinds, ancient abandoned barns, etc.).

Also keep in mind they can smell predators and where they've been, and will be on high alert/nervous. Yes, your horse knows something you don't and it worries her. In a group setting, they will feed each other's fear, worry, concern, and alertness - because that's how the herd survives. Horses will all try to look at what that first horse notices and goes on 'point' about. Like other riders, this is how I see 99% of the wildlife on our rides. I look where Trigger is looking.

There's only so much you can do about her discomfort with the woods and outdoors in general, because that's a horse for you. They're always expecting something to try to eat them. It's instinct. If she's a lone horse, those concerns are going to be magnified because there isn't a second or third or fourth (etc) set of eyes on watch. She may not relax much at all, ever, for this reason - in a herd setting, some horses will relax and lay down, take a nap, sleep on their feed, graze without concern because there are other horses on their feed, on guard/look out for threats. Without a partner to take turns on decompressing, she may stay keyed up.

She's smelling the predators on your place, and she's probably seen them and heard them personally, while you're experiencing just the images from a game camera. The night time is probably especially scary for her.

I'd recommend a pasture donk as a companion, or a second horse.

LOL. Sleep on their feet. Though I guess some may go to sleep with their noses in the feed trough, IDK.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-28-2020, 02:03 PM
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One of the spookiest horses I have ever had was a 4 year old Welsh pony. He was truthfully frightened of his own shadow and totally unsuitabe for any child.

He was sold for meat money to the local knackerman who dropped him off at my place.

I took him everywhere, he stood in the arena whilst I gave lessons, he freaked when I moved poles or jump wings, I took no notice of him, just held onto his rope. He was ponied out and about, led from a pickup truck, stood on top of the muck heap when I was squaring it up. Learned that when I dig over the garden and the ducks were all around there was nothing to be afraid of.

I stabled him for a while and he had cans filled with pebbles tied to his mane and tail along with polythene sacks, the children would kick a ball around him, the dogs would be all around him.

He did freak frequently but in the end - about 6 months on, he rarely looked at anything. I never really broke him as such, the children just jumped on and off him barebac, did round the world, scissors and backward rolls off him. He learned to accept because it got him nowhere to spook.

Good pony in the end.
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