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Horse Body Language from a Video

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  • Horse Body Language from a Video

    I realize I may be starting a message board fight with this one, but it's Friday, so let's do it!

    According to the internet, this is a stallion running back to rescue his mare and foal out of the fire.

    Watch it now before I bias you for or against my point of view. Heads up that this is conversation is about horses behaving oddly because they're caught in something very serious: a California fire. No horses are hurt in this video, it's just a chaotic scene.
    https://twitter.com/RexChapman/statu...750718976?s=20

    Someone posted it on my Twitter feed stating the bay horse doing the "rescuing" was actually a mare and therefore it was the lead mare saving her herd. I made the mistake of offering my opinion that bay horse is running scared and doing that thing horses do where they run back to the familiar, even when it's on fire. I called Mama mare the real MVP, because not only is she heading in the right direction with baby horse in tow, she is run into head first by another horse, checks herself and keeps going toward safety, while dropping her head to check on baby and drawing in bay horse around and keeping everyone headed toward safety. (Hopefully the other horse the dark bay interfered with kept going in the right direction and didn't get turned around. We don't see it again.)

    I am Internet Wrong (TM) which is a special kind of wrong and one must never forget that. You see, Mama mare is dropping her head as a submissive gesture and is happy the "lead mare" came back and is leading them out, not because she's checking up and spooking as she tries to stay with baby horse in the midst of a fire with another horse putting itself between her and her (I assume) baby.

    The reality for me is it's a feel good story no matter what, because whether you think the bay horse was running back to the fire for reasons of altruism or fear, she heads back in the direction of safety in the company of other horses also moving toward safety.

    But, what's your read on body language? And was everyone else taught horses will stay in a burning barn with open doors and even run back into a burning barn out of fear and you must restrain them in a safe place to prevent this? It was just part of the anecdotal safety information I grew up with, like never turn out in a fully nylon halter or your horse will hang itself. Is there much truth to that or an Old Wives Tale?

    Alright, I'm ready to be told I'm wrong and the black stallion is rescuing his wife and foal. Hit me with your Internet Opinions (TM) made off nothing but a short clip of horses none of us know. (Although if you do know them, I'd love to know if they ended up out of range of the newest evacuations and are doing okay now.)

  • #2
    Dark bay is Mom, running back to her foal... Blood bay just happened to be in the mix......
    She who cares the least wins.....

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by OldNag View Post
      Dark bay is Mom, running back to her foal... Blood bay just happened to be in the mix......
      Ooh! Poignant family reunion in midst of tragedy! That's a good one!

      Comment


      • #4
        It does seem like the foal is closer in color to the dark dark bay horse that returns. I think it is possible that that dark dark bay is the actual dam and the foal was just following the blood bay after getting separated from his mother.

        That dark bay looks like a mare to me; I'm not sure why people thought it was a stallion?

        Anyway, I'm glad that all three seemed to be headed in the right direction towards human help.
        "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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        • #5
          I've no idea of the relationship between the horses, but I agree that the light bay is the one who made the "right" decision, and her body language told the other two to stick with her.

          Comment


          • #6
            I saw this video. I can't see the gender of the horses. I think momma and foal makes the most sense.

            Foals mean more to the mare than to the stallion, emotionally and genetically. I'm sure most random viewers have Hero Male in their frame of reference. But with animals it's usually the mothers that take the biggest risks at least for nursing offspring. They may not do much for adult offspring.

            I was however interested because you so often hear about horses running back into burning barns. It's always attributed to panic. But watching this video I wondered if it might also be an impulse to rescue the other horses?

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
              But watching this video I wondered if it might also be an impulse to rescue the other horses?
              I've never heard anecdotal tales of horses running back to rescue other animals in a fire. Lots of dog stories and cats going back for kittens but no horse stories. Not to besmirch horses, I believe they're capable of altruism, but I have a firefighter account of horses refusing to leave their stalls unless forced from behind by the firefighters and I have a horse person account of a horse removed from a stall and released who turned around and returned to its without seeming to notice it's barn mates being led in the opposite direction.

              The hero horses in fires were always like the black stallion, not real horses.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by aregard View Post
                I've no idea of the relationship between the horses, but I agree that the light bay is the one who made the "right" decision, and her body language told the other two to stick with her.
                I will admit one of my thoughts after watching the video was that I'd rather be the owner of the light bay who was always running in the right direction, even with another horse running head on at them, and let the other two tuck back in with only a few spooks. Good horse.

                Edit to add that no horse is bad here, I just like the common sense survival the light bay is exhibiting! Mine would almost definitely have turned around if another horse ran into him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Horse Rider View Post

                  I've never heard anecdotal tales of horses running back to rescue other animals in a fire. Lots of dog stories and cats going back for kittens but no horse stories. Not to besmirch horses, I believe they're capable of altruism, but I have a firefighter account of horses refusing to leave their stalls unless forced from behind by the firefighters and I have a horse person account of a horse removed from a stall and released who turned around and returned to its without seeming to notice it's barn mates being led in the opposite direction.

                  The hero horses in fires were always like the black stallion, not real horses.
                  Ok that's what I've always heard so the video is exceptional and probably because it's a mare foal pair.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've seen 3 different clips of this video now. One, like the one you posted as well, only shows the horse running back then the two adults and foal heading back out. Another one, which I think I saw on Instagram from CBS Sunday Morning, shows a longer clip, and at the end, back on the road, the foal is closely following the dark horse, so I think that is the mother of the foal. I actually saw this clip first, which does NOT show the horse running back to get her foal.

                    https://www.instagram.com/p/B4QI_w9BYWp/

                    Now that I look at it again, it looks like the mare made the turn through the gate, and the other horse and foal turned in the same direction but were still on the other side of the fence. When the mare noticed, she ran back to get them (this clip doesn't show her running back, but does show her noticing them in the wrong place)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here's a longer clip about the same incident that is just way more confusing and probably truer to the event.

                      https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2019...s-simi-valley/
                      "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It looks to me like the foal recognized and followed the " mare" once they were reunited. I think the lighter mare was just in the way! I didn't have any sound so I don't know if there was any calling from either mare or foal or if it would be possible to hear them if they were calling?

                        No matter what I am glad they found one another again..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Pretty much pure anthropomorphism. Horses running back into burning barns is a common occurrence as the barn is "safety" and horses are not instinctively afraid of fire. Since we don't know the "herd relationship" (much less the gender) of the returning horse we can't really comment much about the motivations of the horses involved.

                          G.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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                          • #14
                            The Insta clip does show the foal following the now-haltered dark bay/brown mare, so I'd guess mare went back for baby. Which is not anthropomorphism.
                            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thank you for the longer videos Mango20 and Posting Trot! It was a relief to see the dark bay mare and foal led out to safety. No anthromorphism in assuming the mare went back for her foal. That would be perfectly normal mare behavior. I hope the grey and buckskin were on their heels. As always, people helping animals in the face of real adversity restores my faith in humanity.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                Pretty much pure anthropomorphism. Horses running back into burning barns is a common occurrence as the barn is "safety" and horses are not instinctively afraid of fire. Since we don't know the "herd relationship" (much less the gender) of the returning horse we can't really comment much about the motivations of the horses involved.

                                G.
                                Horses aren’t innately afraid of fire? Are you certain? If they weren’t, why would they feel a need to run into a burning barn for “safety” or have to be forced out of their stalls? I think it’s clear that they ARE afraid of fire, although they might not be able to respond logically to that fear, for whatever reason.

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