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Does your horse "know" your issues? Do they adjust, on their own, for you?

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  • Does your horse "know" your issues? Do they adjust, on their own, for you?

    On a past asthma thread, someone posted how their horse knew when an attack was imminent, and would take her right over to their trainer. I've come to realize that Ted will give a warning to anyone (even equine) approaching on my "bad" side (I'm functionally blind in one eye, so even though I see fine I must have a blind spot of which I'm not aware).

    I'm sure it takes a while for your equine partner to sense and adjust, but I think they do, and I'd love to hear more about it from others.
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

  • #2
    My new mare I don't realizes or cares much about my issues (hearing loss), but my older Arabian mare has taken care of me more than once.

    I was riding her on a nice trail that wound through some small hills/mountain type trails. It was her first time out in such an event and we ended up getting a bit lost and on some steeper parts than I'd like. One side was a steep dropoff and the other side was a steep incline up the side.

    We were merrily walking along when she suddenly scrambled up the side of the hill, trotted forward about 300 yards and then came back to a walk. I wasn't really thrilled, but it was her first real outing and she was green as grass and I figured it was her being silly.

    Turns out it wasn't. There was a scared, rattling rattlesnake in the path that I never heard, but saw after the fact.

    She could have been really stupid about the whole affair, but I think she picked the wisest path, did what she had to, and kept me safe during the event. Her own self preservation I'm sure came into it, but it would have been just as easy for her to dump me and go.

    I miss riding my little plucky Arabian girl!
    Semi Feral


    • #3
      My trainer has been riding my horse a lot these past two weeks getting him ready to go 4th/PSG in a clinic with her. I get on right after she rides him, and Werther is still sensitive, but he never never overreacts. Werther is a funny horse like that, sometimes if he doesn't want to do a canter transition, he will throw in buck but he makes sure it is very easy for me to ride. I've seen him buck once with my trainer and he bucked much harder with her, but still not hard enough to get her off. Werther only does as much as he thinks you can make him do, and as I have gotten stronger with my riding he has started to offer me more, but if I get off balance or into trouble he is really easy to bring down.
      Ellie and Werther Blog


      • #4
        I old pony yes hw was aware and my mare nope not at all.


        • #5
          Interestingly, my current mare is a difficult ride. She's awesome, but everything has to be done just right, and you have to finesse your way through zillions of tiny corrections, or she's all over the place. Very high strung and reactive. However, she's very protective of me when I'm leading her out of the pasture. Loose horses are not allowed to approach me in her presence

          Stan, my draft gelding, is definitely the packer type. I remember walking him in from the pasture at one of the boarding stables, though the deep mud on the way to the gate, and holding on to his halter like a handrail . He just sits around looking pretty these days, but he's always been a really good boy.

          Great question!
          "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesnt merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
          -Edward Hoagland


          • #6
            I ask this because I think on some level they "know." At a different barn, someone came to visit with his daughter - not sure what her disability was but she used a walker, and the muscles in her legs had clearly atrophied (if they were ever there at all). She slowly went up and down the barn aisle, stopping to lean on the walker and pet the horses. None of these horses had ever seen a walker, and some of them would spook at anything even slightly out of place - none of them blinked. One mare, who would lunge out and attempt to bite anyone and everyone just for walking down the middle of the aisle, allowed this child to pet her, no teeth, no pinned ears.

            So if they can sense this sort of thing, I would imagine that, in a partnership, they could come to anticipate/compensate in different ways.
            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


            • #7
              Sadie "knows" that I have wonky ankles and knees and that I have a lot of anxiety when mounting up (she should know, back in the day she CAUSED my anxiety). She stands absolutely still when I mount up, either from a real mounting block or from any number of makeshift blocks. She's "got" this part of taking care of me really well. She also "knew" Mr Jeano's 8 yr old hyperactive screeching niece was just a silly human foal who needed to be indulged the day said niece came down for a horsie ride. And I "knew" Sadie would condescend to babysit, now that she's completed the transformation from Hell Horse to packer. On other occasions she has been smoothness itself for a timid rider, very carefully showing off her gaits, not making sudden moves, very reassuring. (Mind you, she spent the first six to 8 months I owned her trying to kill me nearly every ride.)

              On the debit side, a couple of years ago a buddy came to ride in the New Year with a whopping hangover and elected to ride Sadie since she knew she'll take care of her rider. Buddy did not reckon with Sadie's sense of humor --she did her level best to make her rider absolutely miserable although keeping her perfectly safe. Somehow she of did the equine equivalent of offering her limburger cheese and hollering in her ear. I SWEAR she knew her rider was feeling like death warmed over.


              • #8
                My first horse, Holiday, was a little pistol and a total primadonna...would NOT get his feet wet, soaked his own hay, etc. Years later, when he was in his early 20's, a therapy program took him on trial. Turns out he was one of their best, most patient horses - let the kids do anything, didn't spook at anything, and was wonderful for riders of all levels/abilities.

                He totally knew who was on his back...because if one of the trainers took him out for a spin, all bets were off. But with those kids, he was rock-solid.
                In memory of Rebuff (1974-2009)

                Rest in peace, my sweet man


                • #9
                  I absolutely believe they know.

                  Dumplin', for as sweet as I always made him sound, had a wee bit of an attitude. If a special child came toward his paddock? It was like flicking a switch. They could do anything to him.

                  Paco? He knew exactly who he had and behaved accordingly. Special needs rider? Saint. Not a special needs rider? He would give what you asked for..and some!

                  Trooper?! Dancy, prancy and Thoroughbred-y as they come. Put a hippotherapy client or TR student on him? Instant perfect horse. Crazy.
                  I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                  Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                  • #10
                    If I push myself too hard when I ride and have an asthma attack, I get no warning. Just BOOM and I cannot breath. Fionna will immediately slow to a walk, then stop and wait for me to recover.

                    One time I dropped off her and she stood over me nuzzling my hair until I could get my inhaler out and breath again.

                    Course, once I recover and am back up to speed she turns into Ms Evasive Spookmonster again

                    Mad Mare Studio
                    Custom Swarovski, Czech glass and gemstone browbands in Circlet, Diadem and Tiara styles. Matching stock pins, bracelets and belts.


                    • #11
                      Eileen - Ted once did the same thing. I think I might have inhaled an insect - all I know is that I set off coughing and wheezing like I never have done before. Could. Not. Stay. On. Slowly. Slipped. Off. I was freaking under his belly, wheezing!!! And he just waited until I hauled myself up - I'm sure it was even more uncomfortable for him when I hauled myself in that saddle - and we walked back. He didn't move. He could have kicked, stepped, whatever.
                      a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho" View Post
                        Eileen - Ted once did the same thing. I think I might have inhaled an insect - all I know is that I set off coughing and wheezing like I never have done before. Could. Not. Stay. On. Slowly. Slipped. Off. I was freaking under his belly, wheezing!!! And he just waited until I hauled myself up - I'm sure it was even more uncomfortable for him when I hauled myself in that saddle - and we walked back. He didn't move. He could have kicked, stepped, whatever.
                        I love how they look after us when we're not at our best

                        Mad Mare Studio
                        Custom Swarovski, Czech glass and gemstone browbands in Circlet, Diadem and Tiara styles. Matching stock pins, bracelets and belts.


                        • #13
                          Matt is pretty much a one-person horse and wont let anyone but me touch his face, and can be pretty aloof at times. One day in the summer my mom brought her friend and his handicapped son to the the barn. The little boy was in a wheelchair. I led Matt over and he immediately dropped his head into the boy's lap so he could stroke his face. The little boy couldn't stop smiling and giggling.
                          Proud mother to Matt, a 18 year-old TB gelding.



                          • #14
                            Oh yes. They know. Just listen to Kim Meader of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch tell about Adam and the pony: (have hankies at the me)
                            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                            • #15
                              My guy has adjusted to having a rider who is not balances as far as seat bones and leg strength. My issue is lymphedema, and my right leg is 20" while my left is 14" at the calf (the whole leg is swollen like that). He's learned to go straight in spite of me, and he's also learned to stand stock still while I get on and get off on either side, depending on my issues that day. I fell off on a trail ride - he jumped a ditch and just jumped me out of the tack with his big bascule that day - he walked up the trail a bit, but when I called his name, he ambled back over and put his head down to nuzzle me. He stood perfectly still when I found a log to stand on to remount (he's 17h plus). I love my guy - he's just a saint with me (most of the time).


                              • #16
                                My gelding works very hard to stay under me. I have no feeling from the waist down from a soft spinal cord injury, so my balance stinks. Plus, I am older (46 years old) and stiff in general.

                                He will stop altogether when he feels that I am too unbalanced. He really has a heart of gold and so, so tolerant of me.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by IdahoRider View Post
                                  My gelding works very hard to stay under me. I have no feeling from the waist down from a soft spinal cord injury, so my balance stinks. Plus, I am older (46 years old) and stiff in general.

                                  He will stop altogether when he feels that I am too unbalanced. He really has a heart of gold and so, so tolerant of me.
                                  My first reining school master was like that, he would stop if I was not clear and look at me confusedly, until I found a better way to ride.
                                  He absolutely told on you, if you didn't ride correctly.
                                  Sadly we lost him in an accident last spring, a terrible loss.


                                  • #18
                                    The "riding during chemo" thread brought me to this forum, and I noticed this thread. My semi-rescue horse had a terrible setback shortly after I started chemo, and I wondered if it was somehow related to the chemo ... maybe I had a smell that triggered a bad association w/ him. I'm not convinced one way or the other, but I do wonder if it had anything to do w/ his setback.

                                    My other horse saw me through a degenerating hip and ultimately a hip replacement, and there are things that he did during that time to look after me. After a long history of a bad spin-and-bolt, he gave it up completely, cold turkey. I could hear/feel him thinking "OMG! I gotta ... no, I can't; she might fall off ... " deep breath. That horse is a saint, completely.
                                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                    Spay and neuter. Please.


                                    • #19
                                      When Screech was sound, he definitely adjusted for me. He never pulled his bucking or sqealing while leaping antics when I wasn't well. He would walk around like a beginner lesson horse. When I was well, Screech would be a tough cookie. Even when Screech was in a tough, super fit mode, I could put a rank beginner on him and he would take care of the beginner.

                                      One morning I took Screech for a hack on the trails. We were several miles from home when I started having severe stomach pains. In fact, I actually passed a kidney stone. I was in such pain that I just gave Screech the reins, leaned forward, and wrapped my arms around his neck. I was crying and told him to take me home. Believe it or not, Screech slowly walked right home and never put a hoof in the wrong place.

                                      Rubianna and Screech will stand completely still at the mounting block for a looong time while I mount up.

                                      I don't think Rubianna understands my condition. I do believe Screech takes care of me when he has to. I really hope we can get him sound again!


                                      • #20
                                        I find most horses I ride adjust for me some take longer to figure out some plain think im getting off balance on purpose(and get offended).

                                        The horse im now riding/soon to be leasing we're still getting to know eachother but he's starting to get if i have a tipsy moment that I am aware and didnt mean to catch his back, im quick to say sorry buddy when it happens. Im sure he is well aware of balance issues as he serves as a begginer mount, I just reassure him that I know when I make a mistake so he gets less defensive.

                                        Now we're working on bridling... lets see he's a big headshy WB and im under 5' soo Its about gaining trust at this point.

                                        He is very careful not to bump into me on the ground even when we have a headshy moment(or when the treat bag attacks...)
                                        Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                                        Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!