One of the great thing about working with horses is that there are always new things to learn. You could spend several lifetimes with horses and still not know all there is to know. They’re enigmatic creatures, and that’s part of what makes them so appealing (and sometimes just a little bit frustrating.)
- The good grazing. We’re in that time of year where the pastures are still pretty winter-worn, but the parts of the farm that aren’t subject to 24-hour horses are starting to turn lush and green. I like hand grazing horses on the lawn during this time, but I will never understand why they opt to graze where they do. I try to pick what looks like the most delicious grass, but invariably I choose wrong. Maybe the finer, sparser grass tastes better, but it just looks like so much work for so little reward.
- Mud in strange places. Very specifically, my horse, Snoopy, always comes in with mud in those sunken areas above his eyes. Sometimes he’ll be fairly clean, but he’ll still have managed to get mud on his face, and always in that spot. He’s old, so those spots are sunken pretty far by now. It’s like he uses them as shovels to pick up mud. How does he do it, and why?
(Google tells me that those little depressions are the supra orbital fossae, which I didn’t know until just now. It’s like I said: There’s always more to learn.)
- Puddles are scary. Puddles are grand. Related to the above, why is water terrifying when we’re on a ride and have to cross a tiny driveway puddle, but impossibly enticing when Snoopy is out in his field? He’ll protest the mere idea of getting his toe wet and skirt around every miniature body of water we encounter on the trail. When he has no other choice, he’s been known to suddenly become a grand prix show jumping prospect to avoid touching water that he can’t get around. But when he’s turned out and thinks no one’s looking, he’ll find the sloppiest puddle out there, lie down, and roll like it’s the greatest luxury nature has created for equine kind.
- Creative disrobing. Horse blanket designers have given us a lot of options of different types of straps and fasteners to keep blankets on, but there are horses out there who constantly outsmart the humans on this front. Usually when a once-blanketed horse is suddenly partially or fully undressed, you can explain it by one of two things: 1. enthusiastic and vigorous rolling; 2. bored/destructive turnout buddies. But not always. Snoopy is pretty good about keeping his clothes on, but one day I came out to find his blanket lying in the middle of the field with all of the buckles still fastened. All of them. How’d he do it? I’ll never know.
Got an equine mystery? Discuss in the comments below.
Back to The Near Side
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com
A mystery of mine is why is the frog called the frog? I have never found a good answer or explanation so I have made up my own. I studied a perfect imprint of a barefoot hoof on the sand one day and it suddenly jumped right out at me that the triangle on the ground looked just like a frog had been sitting there. The pointed end being the point of his hind end and the other two points looked just like two legs. Anyone have a better idea?