About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fierce Horses?

I was reading a post on Facebook tonight about a herd of Arabian horses (not stallions) that attacked a deer that entered their pasture. Apparently they were stomping at it, picked it up by the tail and were swinging it, when it escaped they kept chasing it.  The owner of the horses had no ability to stop them, they kept trying to push past her when she interfered in an attempt to save the deer (probably an unsafe move on her part). She was uninjured. Fortunately for the deer, it lived and although probably sore and bruised, was okay the next morning and reportedly was grazing   This deer was from what read to be some kind of farm or private zoo and had jumped the fence.

I noticed that when my horse Lola first met Morgan (my Great Dane) she was a bit aggressive towards her and seemed to want to strike.  I immediately intervened using my leadership skills and utilizing the tasks and techniques I've learned over the years.  The situation immediately ended. My other horses, Fosse and Whiskey have never done this so it was a surprise.  Whiskey actually likes to lick Morgan and play with her ears!Fosse likes to sniff her. Lola has been good at other times I am not convinced that this is a long-term issue or even an issue today as this was back when she first arrived and at that time, was defensive about everything and towards everyone! But, just seeing the behavior initially has made me bit leery.

I did a little looking into my Parelli resources to look deeper into these issues and found that they are basically talking about aggression towards humans in terms of fear or dominance. On their website's page called "Aggressive Horse" they point you to tools like the Horsenality and Seven Games materials. But this does not quite address the issue in my opinion.  I just don't believe this was an act of fear as a deer is not a predator like a human. And dominance?  Maybe if the boss horse picked on the deer to establish a clear herd dynamic but for the group to come together in a pack-like manner, much like predators do, is fascinating (and scary). I have seen dogs do this to a goat and it is very frightening. Stallion behavior as addressed on the Parelli website reads like a horror movie...well not all of it but the example Pat gives is gruesome. I get it, I've worked with stallions, I've ridden stallions, you must be SAVVY!

In any event, the behavior that the horses attacking the deer really make me wonder about the psychology and herd dynamic.  And, why would my horse want to strike my dog who was just standing next to me? I feel like I need more information to make a better determination, in my mind, what and why it happened.  I just found the scenario intriguing. So, I've got some homework to do! I have to learn and understand more.... never ending self-improvement!

Have any of you ever heard of or experienced anything like the deer or dog examples?


PeterC said...

Interesting. I know of one mare I used to know who chased cats, dogs, and about once a year we had to get a vet out to pull porcupine needles from her front feet as she'd finally catch a porcupine.

She was my favorite and easy to handle now that I think about it but deadly to anything that "didn't belong." Also a low member on the totem pole. Would love to hear what you find out!


Lisa said...

When I first bought Cricket and moved her to my boarding barn, she went after my cat. Nearly skinned his tail. He was just following me in and out of the paddock.

I have seen Etruska radically change her behavior to follow Cricket's lead. I've seen herds who have multiple generations of related mares (dam, grand-dam, siblings, cousins) get very clannish. I wonder if the story you read is an extreme example, Horsey Hatfields, if you will. The lead horse decided the deer was a threat or an interloper and the clan followed suit.

Also, you said the deer might have been domesticated. As such, it may not have behaved "normally." I saw our boarder horses terrorize a horse brought in for training. Even Cricket, who is very non-aggressive, bullied this filly. Well, her owner had warped that poor horse by treating her like a pet before allowing her to be a horse.

Not sure what explains Lola striking at Morgan but my guess is your gut is right - a one-time defensive action.

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Great ideas and comments...keep them coming!

Shannon S. said...

Here are my thoughts .. bearing in mind I am no expert on horse behaviour!! I wonder whether this defensive, predatory-like behaviour is as a result of the domestication of our horses. Would a herd of horses in the wild behave the same way?? Or would they just move away from whatever it is they perceive as a threat? I wonder whether it could simply be as a result of the fence that contains them - they know they can't get away so the only other option is to turn and fight in order to save themselves. I think like Lisa that the deer being farm raised had a different behaviour than a wild deer - so they maybe perceived it differently than they would otherwise.

I wonder in all this how many of the horses involved with this type of behaviour are mares. Just from my own observation over the years - the mares seem much more in tune with possible threats and appear somewhat more proactive in how they deal with those situations than the geldings do. Hhmmm .. now you have me thinking ... interesting ...

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Interesting thought, Shannon..got you thinking? Great!