The Good: When Equines Are Confused

I have a cat.  (I know, right?)  Anyway, I often think he’s confused about the fact he’s a cat.  He regularly brings me toys and drops them at my feet in anticipation of me throwing them for him.  If I don’t respond within milliseconds he will talk at me (not to me – there’s a difference) until I comply.  It’s almost as annoying as a dog giving those pathetic *please, pleaseeeeeee, PLEASEEEEEEEEE* eyes and then resorting to barking happily until the ball is thrown, except that I find it way funnier when my cat does it. 

Obviously I’m super well-trained and it never takes more than a meow or two of ‘Hey, stupid human! ’ before I pick up the toy and throw it.  And I giggle every damn time he runs after it and watch him bring it back to me to rinse and repeat.

So, what’s this got to do with horses?  This: Tracking Horses  (Thank you, Quill).  I had no idea people were doing that with horses, but here is another  I found with far more in depth information.  There’s even a training booklet available.

But if that wasn’t enough, I’m almost finished Part 2 of Tao and there was mention of this.  How cool is that?  I almost want one just to see the looks on people’s faces as I walk down the street.


53 thoughts on “The Good: When Equines Are Confused

  1. I could not get the 2nd article to come up, but it is probably just my computer, I will try later.

    This is way cool! I’ve always known horses were really good at spotting what’s around, just never heard of one that was able to be trained to go find someone since they are prey animals. When I was doing a little research on the Tao book, I found something that said early horses had large brains. My horse is really good at letting me know everybody that’s around, my guess is that a lot of horses considered spooky are just letting the rider know that something is there. I may get blasted for that, but isn’t this what horses are supposed to do? Be aware of anybody and everybody that’s in the area?

    I’m talking about trail horses, however, not arena horses. A good trail horse is supposed to let me know what’s around. I live in the city, but am lucky enough to ride a river bottom area. There are lots of homeless living there, and this morning when my horse “spooked” – he just jumps a little, very easy to sit – I knew that he has spotted someone that I could not see. A few years ago he was acting real spooky on a trail we use all the time. There was a lot of dried brush and grass and as I looked in there I saw a cougar – just like seeing one frame of a movie as we passed by – hidden in the brush and not moving. I’m not surprised that horses can spot a person, just that they could be persuaded to to something about it!

    • There were three links. Were you able to see the last?

      No doubt they have acute sight with their wide range of vision, but the first two links were about ‘scent’ tracking…like for people, narcotics… The suggestion that equine olfactory sense is better than bloodhounds was interesting.

      • If a rabbit runs across the trail, that is something my horse can see. If the pigs are out rootin, that’s something my horse can hear. But the two examples I gave, my horse could smell. How long do you think a wild horse would last if he couldn’t smell water from a far distance? Of course horses have a good sense of smell.

        • Right, they have a good sense of smell. And would be able to smell predators. Teaching one to sniff out a specific person (like a victim/lost person) or narcotics (like a dog)…something entirely different. No?

  2. The last pic in the mini article shows the little guy taking a tinkle…ya think perhaps they missed that?

    OMG I was LOL about the cat story!! I hear people complain about how independent and non-associative cats are. Just not true. At least yours wants to play, M, one of mine resorts to tripping me (I SWEAR it’s on purpose – he’s 15, a pro now) when I don’t get to the canned food cabinet quickly enough. He also runs laps through kitchen, living room, dining room on command, when I open his cabinet. He will stop after one or two laps, look at me, I’ll ask for another lap and off her goes. Funnier is when 2 of the other cats head slap him as he runs by. He also lays down on command when he’s making bread on my chest – umm, that hurts! My blind cat catches flies. I’m amazed watching his head ducking and diving with the motion then pouncing at the perfect opportunity. Chomp, chomp, fly gone.

    I love the vocabulary – a different noise for a different want. Cold out, wanting to come in from the barn elicits the loudest, longest howls. When evening approaches, time to come in, I get the resentful mews and averted eyes as I use my best ‘you better’ voice. They know, we chat. I know, I’m a cat lady, can’t help myself. But at least I don’t sing to my dog when it’s having a bowel movement! My neighbor lets everyone in earshot know when he’s relieving himself………

    • Well, we did *whistle* when it was time for the racehorses to give their sample…singing, though? Um…okay. LOL!

      I worry about becoming senile or getting dementia because I’ll totally be the crazy cat lady with 200 in my house when they find my body.

      • My friend gave me a ‘crazy cat lady’ magnet for my fridge several years ago……..I’m scared of my future self already.

    • “The last pic in the mini article shows the little guy taking a tinkle…ya think perhaps they missed that?”
      I think they did mean to put that there, because that is an area for dogs to use the bathroom.

  3. My younger cat is like that too! She plays fetch like a champ. My older cat decides when it’s bed time. I’ll be on the computer and she’ll yell at me because she wants to go to bed, but she won’t go to bed until she’s got me in the bed with her to cuddle with, haha.

    Glad you took interest to the article! Since I live around where they’re doing all of this, I should be hearing more updates if they’re released, if you want them. I would think having tracking horses out with dogs would be great. Put a paramedic on horseback with medical gear and they can administer instant health care and even use the horse to transport someone. You can’t use a dog for transport and you can carry more medical gear on a horse.

    • Thanks for sending the information to Mercedes, this was fascinating. I knew horses used these abilities to check out other horses, ie, is it one they know, what they’ve been eating (good forage), emotional state/ nervous poop apparently smells different than calm poop. I also knew they could smell water, predators, etc. so it only makes sense they could be trained to track.

      • No problem! It’s just been a small story here in Oregon so figured those of your outside the state wouldn’t get to hear about it otherwise, haha. I knew they had good scent, too, I just never would have thought they could be scent-trained!

  4. Seeing eye minis? Load of absolute BS- not a word on that site can be trusted, very few of them are actually true. One in the whole world does NOT make a “programme” Horses are FLIGHT animals, you cannot train that out of them . They are not meant to live that sort of life, not at all, and I think it is nothing short of cruel. There was a HUGE hoo haw in Europe when they tried to move their “caravan” in over here- it ended with threatened court action and “gagging” orders to try to prevent the well known trainer who had taken the Mini for training from saying the truth- they are NOT cut out for this sort of work and should not be used for it. If you google it on You tube you should get a better picture- the one where the mini nearly pulls the poor woman through a plate glass window because some roller bladers go by would be funny if it were not tragic and the one where the mini is being led by the woman’s husband is funny- what is the horse doing? Surely if the horse needs leading then the husband could lead his wife? Sweet couple and the woman loved the little horse to bits but horses do not live in houses.

    • not all horses would make the cut, but then neither do all dogs. There are celebrated horses in the history of the US cavalry of horses doing their jobs, unaided by human escort, in battle conditions. One mare made dozens upon dozens of trips carrying munitions up a mountain and back down with wounded on her own in most cases, and despite picking up wounds hereself. We lack trust that horses can be that well trained.

      • There are also cases of horses that appear to have trained themselves to do the job of a guide dog, sometimes for another horse, sometimes for a human. The right horse, the right dog, can be an excellent assistance animal.

        BTW, the Guide Horse Foundation is careful to note that they do not train “seeing eye” horses, because Seeing Eye is the name of a foundation that trains dogs. They also do not wish to displace guide dogs from service; they attempt to provide assistance animals to people who for whatever reason can’t or don’t want to use a guide dog.

        If I lost my sight, I would be on the list for one of these animals immediately. I have the yard space and the lifestyle that would fit with a guide horse.

  5. I thnk it is great that modern ‘jobs’ are being found for horses, if they are useful, they will continue to be bred. The world may very well grow increasingly hostile for forage animals that require space and water to produce their feed and meet their exercise demands as the need for their services decreases.

      • I think there’s a phrase in the bible that has something to do with ‘ask not for whom the bell tolls’. We can merely start encouraging the idea that we do not have to replace ourselves in a world severely threatened by overpopulation. Supporting education of young girls in third world countries dominated by patriarchial ideas that women are worthless except to produce babies and that lots of babies prove manhood is one highly effective way to cut population growth. Eliminating the living smacks of facists, eugenics and all sorts of unpleasant things. We can choose to be good stewards by not adding to overpopulation leaving room for our horses and millions of other species.

        • Third world countries? I like where you’re going with this but we can’t even keep well informed teenaged girls in America from reproducing like rats! And we have forward thinking and birth control on every corner so there are no excuses. We need to fix our own countries before we try to save the world. Fifth generation welfare recipients are not acceptable.
          A simple reduction of the population can begin with death row inmates too and whittle it down from there. Yes, I’m a cold-hearted bitch, I know, but the reality is that if we don’t make some tough decisions, all life suffers indefinitely.

  6. Actually, US birth rates are low, we gain population from immigration. Teen pregnancies are way down in the US over peak years, and are highest in red states where religion and politics intersect to favor abstinence only policies instead of forward thinking and pushing birth control.

    The US is bad in the sense of overuse of resources per capita, meaning our relatviely small population for land mass is way high in per capita consumption of fossil fuels, water, precious metals, etc. But actual threat from birth rate is a third world problem, Africa, Middle East, India though that is changing, Latin America, parts of Asia, where women traditionally still don’t recieve education, family size is still large and male children highly valued.

    We need to make tough decisions, I am not opposed to the death penalty, but with over 7 billion people, we would have to impose the death penalty for daring to breathe as opposed to heinous crimes. Your view of the facts, the issues and the solutions seems to be very insular and hardly related to the real problems. We certainly need to make tough decisions if we want to preserve life on this planet as we know it, but I doubt the death penalty is one of them.

    • But if we can’t put to death persons who have done heinous crimes against society, there is no population deserved of removal. Ramirez has been on death row, what, 20 + years? There’s over a million dollars of tax dollars to care for a sociopathic serial killer. If we can’t elminate him, where do we start?
      Overpopulation is a world problem and if we can’t fix it in our own community, states, country, then why think world wide? Children starve to death every day and I’m sick of seeing their faces on tv as if it’s MY fault and responsibility. People don’t listen when told what not to do, they only cry for help when they’ve done wrong and want help.

  7. Okay, I love the twists and turns that online discussions can take – But the death penalty as a method of population control – WTF? Personally I am categorically opposed to the death penalty at all, but putting that aside, the idea is fundamentally flawed… if the criminal had children prior to committing their crime, then you’ve had no effect on population at all. That criminal was gonna die some day, you accomplish nothing on the net population by doing it a little sooner. You do nothing for overpopulation by killing the people already here, unless you kill them before you reproduce, and you don’t have to kill people to stop them from reproducing.

    The thing is, the number of women who actually, if given the option and no subjected to religious brainwashing, WANT to have a whole flock of children, is pretty small. Give women the power and ability to control their reproduction and most will voluntarily chose smaller families.

    • My point is that we don’t even put people to death who were sentenced to death DECADES ago. Every criminal needs to eat, drink, shower and have medical care. Each needs electricity, water, housing maintenance….and they all require resources, land to grow food, water to process to drink, sewage to treat on the way out and land to dump the nuclear waste on. A drop in the bucket, absolutely, but if we can’t even decide that there are people who do crimes to society so horrible that society commits them to die, population will never, ever be addressed until we take it upon ourselves to fight to the death for what we have. I have no children so I can honestly say that I have nothing to do with adding to the problem. The middle class is having less children because they can’t afford to have families like one generation ago did. I have no friends with more than 2 or 3 children but I see plenty of single mothers walking the streets, 2-5 children at their sides, who are no older than 25 years old – with no source of income and no husbands. My job affords me contact with every walk of life so I base my comments on what I see all the time. Even if teen births are down, they aren’t down enough. I think the days of religious types pumping out 8-10 children is mostly a thing of the past. Unless you’re a Duggar in which case eyes are glued to your life with your celebrity status.

  8. And, to follow up on what JRGA was saying, work on the social contructs and religious programming for men as well that say “lots of children = manliness” and men too will generally end up preferring smaller families. It would be ridiculous to look attempt legally and ethically questionable and flawed methods of population control like killing criminals, before simply giving more of the population the education and ability to voluntarily chose to have fewer children.

    • We’ve been trying to change people for thousands of years. All the programs in the world have done nothing to make people more responsible. It never worked, it never will. If you can program people to stop having children for the sake of all life, I’ll eat your hat. People don’t look past their own noses and lives, period. They only blame others when resources are unavailable.

    • People have always had the ability to voluntarily not have children…even the uneducated know how it is accomplished. Its called DON’T HAVE SEX and it worked really well for me. I am in the minority even in my own family of females who did not ‘accidently’ get pregnant before getting married, and I consider it a point of pride. Personally, if you can support your children on your own without help from the government, I saw more power to single women who want to have children. But understand the resources involved, both your own, and those of the rest of the planet.

  9. Hear Hear for the twists our conversations take. But it does pertain to horses, if you think about it. Horses need land, land for hay, recreation and stables. You have to think of population in historic terms. The upward projection since 1800 is frightening. It is projected to go up to about 9 billion before leveling off. Forget global warming, the real problem is pollution. The next wars will be over water. Water is becoming increasingly filthy on this planet. The pacific ocean has a garbage dump the size of Texas. Horses are going to be increasingly expensive to keep because of the water they require. I will miss all this. I will be long gone by the time this planet becomes overrun with to many people. That will be a problem for the ones that are here to deal with.

    • It’s called shortsightedness and it will be our destruction. I see all these things coming and am powerless to change it. My career puts me smack dab in the middle of one of the greatest wars to come. Such a shame that we couldn’t have done things for righteousness instead of greed. Really, how gorgeous is this planet that is being destroyed with its topography, oceans, lakes and of course, horses? Too bad people can’t see if through the lights of Vegas, LA, NYC………..

      • Yes, there is a good chance destruction will come. It has come several times on this planet. And eventually the planet and it’s sun will cease to be. It’s my opinion that our understanding of the universe is in it’s infancy. Scientists smugly assume the red shift. My mind is still open. Will this be the only small pinpoint of conscience, or will life arise in other places and other times. My mind is still open. What a glorious chance to be here when I could enjoy horses.

        • There’s a very good chance you’ll be around to see men land on Mars. You might be too old to see the human species become multi-planetary, but it’s coming.

          • I love that we have robots on Mars. When we went to the moon, it was incredibly inspiring, I remember looking up at the moon that night when we first landed; but because of radiation, I believe that manned expeditions are a waste of resources. Let future generations figure out how to shield travelers and account for no gravity in space. We’re no where near that now.

            Also, I love that all these space movies seem to have figured all this out.

          • Yes, we are near it. Just look up SpaceX and see what they are doing. Their reusable rocket, Grasshopper, just did a VTVL of 325m…the fifth in its series of tests. They are the first privately owned company to take cargo to and from the ISS and did it by building their own rockets from scratch and at the fraction of NASA’s typical costs. The founder, majority owner and CEO of that company will make it to Mars in his lifetime and is currently estimating 12-15 years.

          • It that the same company that for a fee will scatter your ashes through the solar system? I think one of the actors from the orignal Star Trek had it done when he passed away. Awesome.
            I have a hard time deciding whether or not I would want to go, if inter-planetary habitation occurred in my lifetime…As much as I’d love to relieve earth of the burden of ‘me’ and see a new, untouched planet, I feel a spiritual connection with this planet…Plus, I don’t want to be one of the people blamed when we @$#% up the new one!

          • They did have the urn of ashes (along with ice cream and fresh fruit for the astronauts…and of course all the science experiments etc…) on board for their most recent docking. It would have been up to the astronauts on the ISS to scatter the ashes, though.

            I hate flying in an airplane, so I’m quite sure no word exists in the English language to describe my very likely distaste of space travel. But, damn, it’d be cool to do once.

            The CEO often says, “I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”

      • none of us are powerless to change things. First we stop concentrating on the wrong things, we see what is really happening, by looking at facts not prejudices about how people are. Birth rates in every country where women are educated, go down rapidly. Women, if given a chance free of religious doctrine and male dominance will invariably limit family size. Even in this country where hispanic birth rates, married or teens, are higher are showing this trend by the second generation, family size shrinks. We can all encourage readily available birth control, real sex education, and real public education. Again, US birth rates are basically at replacement rates and have been.

        What we all can control is consumption, individual decisions to demand greener products and use them, eat less meat, the science shows if we cut our meat consumption we could eliminate about 20% of the increases we are seeing from greenhouse gases. We make major changes in response to advertising campaigns all the time. How many people haven’t switched to margarine over butter, low fat milk, all sorts of convenience foods pre=prepared? We could get on the bandwagon demanding more investment in solar, wind, hybrid and electric cars, switch away from plastic disposables for everything we do, stop buying and using plastic bottles, etc. We make choices every day. If you think you can see all this coming, then you can do something. Lots of somethings.

        The solution is not killing a tiny percentage of the population becuase it is your pet peeve. The solution is making changes to what a large majority of the population does. That is in fact perfectly doable if we stop buying the shit shovelled by media and email outrage.

        • I do agree with most of this J and we can make a difference. But people who limit their plastic bottle use will then go buy a huge plastic playground set to plop in the backyard for the kids. Like 10,000 bottles’ worth of plastic. I can use less water to brush my teeth and then fill my hot-tub and pool. As long as the population is increasing due to births and longer life spans, resources are depleting. Which means that eventually, government will have to step in and control every single thing we do. Bye bye freedom. Wish I could be as optimistic as you are but I’ve lost my faith in humanity.

          • I do think that less people on this planet is the only answer. This planet is very good at cleaning itself up, but only if we keep our population within reasonable bounds.

            Think back to cities before the car. Horses leave a lot of manure and stuff laying around, and when we all started driving cars the relief in the cities must have been great. Cars were clean! But look at what happened. Cars don’t crap, but they pollute the very air we all have to breathe. Did replacing horses really clean the cities? They would have if we had kept our cities small enough for the planet to handle.

          • if you have truly lost faith, it really shouldn’t matter to you if humanity self destructs or we put anybody to death. If you believe we can’t change, and you spread that message, you are helping to make sure nothing changes. Lead, follow or get out of the way.

          • As for buying an electric car and powering it with solar power, (and I think you are making a joke here) blondemare has an excellent point – people will do something that they think will “save the planet” and turn right around an buy that plastic playground. Manufacturing electric cars and solar power cells takes an enormous amount of resources and creates new problems. I say we go back to real horsepower.

          • Actually, I wasn’t joking. It’s the very reason why I upheaved my life and left my farm and horses to be in California. An EV (the one I’m talking about) does not take any more resources to create than an ICE (internal combustion engine) car. It’s significantly more efficient, doesn’t pollute the air, eliminates noise pollution, requires virtually no maintenance, costs significantly less to run, out performs ICE’s, is easily upgradeable (not requiring the repurchase of ‘new automotive technology’ every few years) and the batteries are not only non-toxic, but also can be used later on for energy storage…like for storing solar generated power…or recycled.

            Moving away from burning fossil fuels and toward renewable power sources is one of the ways we’re going to save this planet and ourselves, imo.

            Ideally, moving around this planet via our legs, horses or bicycles would be the very best thing to do. We aren’t going to convince people of that, though, any time soon.

          • OK, I’ll stand corrected if this is all true. I’m just pessimistic because all these “green” technologies sometimes turn out to not be to “green.”

          • This particular car is more than a ‘green’ technology. Motor Trend 2013 COTY – first time unanimous decision in 69 year history of the award. 99/100 from Consumer Reports – highest rating of any car, ever. Actually scored a 110/100 and was docked the ‘mandatory’ 10% because it’s an EV and people have some warped perceptions about range anxiety. Automobile Magazine award, Yahoo Car award, Green Car award, etc., etc., It’s the best car ever made and just happens to be all-electric.

            So, yes, entirely true. There are already 15,000 throughout US and Canada. The first European deliveries will be later this month and then Asia later this year. It will be followed by an SUV model late next year and have an AWD option and then a smaller (Camry-size) vehicle priced for the middle class in 2016/2017. The car industry is being turned on its ear, they just don’t know it yet.

      • I think it is already here, it just isn’t locusts or SARS. It’s deliberate and complete ignorance. You must have noticed that US media never really covers any facts or important issues since your relocation, is at war with science, etc. Just like that NY Times hit review on a certain electric car which everyone else that actually comes in contact falls absolutely in love with.

        • Don’t get me started on my new home country’s self-sabotaging efforts. Compared to NADA and its political connections, Mr. Broder of the NY Times is Aunt Bea of Mayberry. But yes, I’ve noticed…how could I not have noticed? It’s pretty blatant.

          • Aunt Bea was frequently a harsh and shrewish woman about people that weren’t her family. NADA is crazy, trying to hold on to the way things used to be. They will lose.

          • Well, I was thinking of the apple pie making granny Aunt Bea, not the other one. LOL!

            Obviously, I’m betting on them losing. 🙂

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