Love is in the air…or could it be a delicious heart-shaped doughnut that I smell?!?
With Valentine’s Day later this week, I’m planning to spend quality time with my gal pal, Hugme Christi! It took me a long time to figure out if she liked me or not. I used to pluck the petals off of flowers singing, “She loves me. She loves me not,” over and over again until there weren’t any petals left. But that wasn’t very scientific of me. I’m a professor of equine science, so I put my thinking cap on and started to pay closer attention to her behavior. Learning a horse’s behavior is very important so you know when they are going to give you a kiss or a bite – but don’t worry about me; I only bite into doughnuts and hot dogs!
At first, I thought she was nipping at my behind to get me to move out of the way so that she can have all of the scrumptious treats. But I discovered that she was just grooming the dirt off of my rear after I spent the day rolling in the mud! Now that is what you call love! We also nudge and nuzzle each other and rest our heads on one another to show just how much we care. Mares and foals also do this to show comfort and support.
We can also be quite vocal when expressing our affection. Sometimes my buddy, CouldBeMagic tells us to be quiet! Nickers are low-pitched and quiet and are a sign of happiness for another companion – or for food! Between treats from my owner and Christi, I nicker all day long! Nickers are different from neighs. Neighs are high pitched so it’s easier to located Christi when she’s out of sight. A part of me is missing when she’s not around.
We are also herd animals and always want a companion to keep us company and watch for unexpected predators. In the wild, one or two stallions protect the herd; however, the “alpha” of the group is an older mare, like Christi – shhh, don’t tell her that I said she was old or I will be in BIG trouble! Usually an older mare has had more experiences, more close encounters, and survived more threats than the other horses in the herd. Dominance is established not only through aggression but also through behaviors and attitudes that let the other horses know that the alpha mare expects to be obeyed. And I would do anything for my Christi!
What do you do to show your horse that you love him/her? Post it in the comments section below.
Happy Valentine’s Day!