Instinctive Behaviour - Displacement?
I have a horse that holds her leg up while eating her grain. She always starts with her left - holds it way up, occasionally paws but usually just has it up in the air. And then she switches to the other leg. And then back again. I have done some research after someone said that this is a very primitive and instinctive behaviour - and I see it's called a "displacement" by some. They say because a horse has been designed to eat and move, eat and move - and by standing at a bucket we have taken the moving part away from them.
Then I also noticed that other vices are termed "displacement" - that included weaving and stall walking. Well low and behold - this mare does both! And she paces in her paddock as well when she wants on the other side of the fence.
Does anyone have anything to add to the behaviours of a horse that shows this "displacement" with the leg holding thing? I have seen young horses and babies do it, but it seems like most of them grow out of it. Well this mare is now 8 years old! I don't think she is growing out of it any time soon! What would these behaviours tell you about the state of mind of that horse? Would they concern you at all? Would a horse like this be better suited for one sport over another?
I guess I am looking for some insight on this - kind of like where they say "a whorl in the middle of the forehead usually means this temperament" is there anything to the instinctive behaviours like leg holding while eating?
Inquiring minds want to know! :)