Quirks or vices? Horse behaviour at its most interesting

"Can I crib on this thing?"


Meet Lynn: Besides running my dog grooming business of 35+ years, I’m a 59 year old (EEEK did I say my age out loud! )horse nut and an Adult Amateur Eventer extraordinaire in Area 1 living my equine dream with an amazing horse in the wake of personal loss. Thanks to family and my horse and dog connections, I have gotten through a very hard year. The horse life with all its highs and lows has kept me on my own two feet; as I continue to strive to be the best rider I can be for my horse.


Quirks or vices? Horse behaviour at its most interesting

Ok, we all have them – Little habits or mannerisms that drive people crazy. But what about our horses? What exactly constitutes a quirk or vice? After all they are his horses – just a prey animal that should live in a large heard roaming open pastures. When did we humans decide what behaviors were normal for them.

Quirk or vice? Hay dunking
I say it’s smart. Perfect way for the horse to get hydrated and help wash down the coarse hay. But I’m sure your barn Staff finds it very annoying. Slop all of the walls, dirty buckets and dirty water.

Quirk or vice? Weaving or cribbing
Definitely two very disturbing habits from being stabled and surely not healthy for the horse. You’ve tried collars and distasteful products for the wood as for weaving? Well, after months of looking, you finally find your mount a big pasture with a three sided shed and everyone is happy.

Quirk or vice? Hates bugs
Well who doesn’t. Dull to the leg but twitching, stomping, head shaking, and running from the biting flies. We’ve all spent more money than we care to admit to on bug sprays and bug systems. Gross fly tapes, homemade stinky bottle bug traps and natural bug predators. Does anything work? Well you could keep the horse in its stall like a house cat and ride in the indoor year round… but that creates another quirk for a vice? Right ?

Quirk or vice? Spooks at silly things
Your horse is a mighty jumper. Brave at the most daunting of fences. But beware of that beam of light in the indoor or jump poles laying on the outside of the arena. You put up with this because you always win your jump off or move up after jumping phases with your jumping machine that seems afraid of his own shadow.



Quirk or vice? Hates being alone
Has to be put out once another horse can be seen, has to be brought in the stable with a buddy as to not cause hysteria. Hacking out alone is not an option. Lucky you have lots of trail buddies. So stressed you can’t go to shows with out a BFF and then going to the ring causes him to whinny and scream that is just heart wrenching. Finally, you find a kid to hand graze said BFF as close to the ring as possible.

Quirk or vice? Pawing, stomping
Can be most annoying which causes everyone in the barn to be an instant on the ground trainer… uhuhuh sounds come from anyone within sight… others armed with squirt bottles or small tap of a crop. I have seen horses learn to paw without touching the ground. Then the naughty pawing horses’ owner comes by with carrots and feeds right into the naughty horse behaviour – who wins?

Quirk or vice? Pacing at the gate
You can almost guarantee that it’s feeding time when this fellow starts his dance at the gate. The trench he makes with his pacing by the gate is impressive and turns it into a water ditch when it rains. Liverpool Or ditch’s are no problem!

Quirk or vice? Hates being groomed or tacked up
Well the slanted the ears and ugly faces are daunting, twitching tail, stomping feet. All this pampering is just too unpleasant for this mount. The mane stays long because pulling it is not an option. Forget being body clipped. Saddling is fun – bloating belly for girthing… How dare you cinch me up so tight. Head thrown high for bridling and teeth grinding for bitting. You resign to paying for the “ princess ride” and have the barn staff get your horse ready.

Quirk or vice? Chomping at the bit… literally
Well this is a favorite cliche and the vision of Seabiscuit chomping the bit as he passes War Admiral is etched in your head. But the dressage judge is not impressed. Comments are Use a flash! Have you checked his teeth or for ulcers? Yet chewing the bit is acceptance and can be good, right?

Quirk or vice? Won’t load on the trailer (sometimes)
Of course only when time is of the essence. You are part of a group with your trainer trying to leave for a show with a very early departure and yours is the only horse that won’t load. So they have to leave without you. Very sad but of course you made it to all the off – Property lessons that same week.

Quirk or vice? Can’t catch from the pasture
Definitely inconvenient and of course it always happens when you’re trying to bring in early because it’s a holiday and you want to get to the family dinner! OR you have a lesson with your favorite clinician and you want to get your horse in early enough to get him sparkling clean. But instead you spend the extra 30 minute back-and-forth to get grain or carrots or his favorite horse to coax him in.

Quirk or vice? Loses mind during feeding time
Of course, that’s when you come for your ride and without fail you go to put on the bridle and the barn manager starts dumping grain. Your horse loses it. And when you try to continue with your ride he so distracted, barging and rushing through the exercises. So, from now on you ask the barn manager to feed your horse one hour earlier than the rest or you switch your riding time.

Quirk or vice? Nightmare to lead
Called “fire breathing dragon” by most at the barn. Always in a rush to get to the paddock or back to the barn. Exhibits airs above the ground at any leaf that blows across the path. You use a chain lead or always have a crop with you to preserve your space.

Quirk or vice? Losing shoes
Chronic Murphy’s law – always losing a shoe the day after the farrier comes or just before that crucial lesson or before a long awaited show! The farrier is on speed dial and there is probably no hoof left to nail back the shoe…which by the way is never found…like all the lost socks from the washing machine. You end up paying through the nose for special glue on shoes. Which lasts all of one week!

Quirk or vice? Or just an awful saying? ‘Healthy as a horse syndrome’
Who ever said this, horses are so sensitive, they colic at the slightest climate change. Out for the whole show season due to a turnout injury! Allergic to recent load of hay… impressive outbreak of hives all over… legs like stumps from cellulitis caused by ??? Unknown irritant? The list goes on and on. Why are these beautiful creatures not extinct? Because without our intervention they would never last in the wild… Anyways, we have all dealt with that one horse who is uber unlucky in the health department and our vet bill is proof…

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