Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2018 >Daily Dispatch #331

November 27, 2018: The Horsey Life: The Inquisitive Icelandic Horse

It was an ideas day. When they start a coming, I want to throw up my hands and run because I know that I will have to consider acting upon them. And I also know that I might act and then abandon the idea, which is a real time waster. But today’s idea has possibilities, which is why I didn’t turn tail and run but turned around and faced it.

It started with my reviewing our existent November videos. I had been discouraged in making them because there were blunders – going through the S-bend and (surprisingly) backing over the tarp were problematic. And let’s not talk about walking with the bucket in hand. Our horses are inquisitive and now that I think

Hrimmi stomps the bag in the tire

about it, asking them to not check the bucket out goes against my belief that they should check things out.

I put Hrimmi away, and in the process recalled that my friend Pam Nolfe who lives in Washington and assisted me in acquiring Tyra, had sent me two videos of her gelding Blessi. In the first, she introduces him to a cat. In the process he checks out everything around him. And in the second he reaches for a rope and pulls a cardboard box under a gate. This gives him access to what’s inside. These videos brought to mind the word inquisitive. My horses, I thought, share like-characteristics with Blessi. So why not make some of my own videos?

I put about a half-dozen objects in the hitching post area and first let Raudi and then let Tyra have at it. Raudi went directly to the gasoline containers with the treats and worked at getting the treats out. Tyra did the same, but in meandering from place to place knocked over grooming boxes and checked other things out.

Some would say that Tyra was just looking for treats and that all horses would do this. My response is that most owners do not let their horses engage in this kind of behavior. I think there has to be a time and a place for this, for otherwise you end up with a dull and perhaps fearful horse.

I provided apt commentary as I made these videos, saying that both horses were both strengthening and creating new neural pathways, as was evidenced by their high level of engagement.

I decided after that there are going to be nine more videos in this series. They will be inductive and sequential in that each following video will build on the one that preceded it. So tomorrow I am going to hide the gasoline containers under cones and see if Tyra will attempt to find something that is not within sight. If she doesn’t catch on, I will show her where one is and then see if she seeks it out. This seeking behavior – Temple Grandin asserts that it’s a sign of intelligence.

I think that what I am doing is in the realm of educating as opposed to training. In this instance, Tyra is being provided with the opportunity to explore and interact with objects in her environs. Thus, my encouraging this form of autonomous behavior increases the likelihood that she’ll continue to be a curious and fearless horse. A good example: she will not shy or bolt when we come to strange objects on the trail. Rather, she will check them out. I am thinking of the lawn chair on Pat and Ray’s trail. We went riding with some friends and one horse shied into it and cut up her leg. My thinking is that this horse would have acted differently if its owners did as I’m doing and encouraged their horse to be inquisitive.

A good ideas day. And I do have the time to continue with the video series.

Next: 332. 11/28/18: The Horse-Human Body Awareness Connection

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles