Horse, Of Course
by Don Blazer
Sneakers a shy cat? Or is it just a human perception?
She doesn't cuddle up to humans. She usually hides when folks
come to visit.
She likes me, I think. But she doesn't want to sit on my lap.
She wants to sit in the mail "in-box." When I'm writing,
she curls up and sleeps in the "in-box." She's close,
but still distant.
When I go to the barn, Sneakers goes along, but not to be with
me. She likes to keep up her social contacts.
She first visits with a horse named "Black." Black is
"Black" because "Black" is black. Sneakers
is black and white, but mostly black. Maybe that is why she visits
with the black horses and generally ignores the others. Black
is friendly in his way, but not too friendly. At least Sneaker's
behavior would make you think that. She goes to visit him, but
she wants little to do with him. She meows, walks back and forth
in front of his stall, looks at him looking over the stall door
at her, and then sits without another word. I think it is her
way of sitting in his mail "in-box."
After a bit she's off to see One Done Dooley, a young black horse
with a very laid-back attitude. Now Dooley likes Sneakers and
she obviously likes him, not hesitating to enter his stall and
settle down on his hay. He munches and she purrs and they visit
for awhile. I assume he tells her his troubles and she relates
hers. Isn't that the way most conversations go?
Walter is, of course, Sneaker's favorite. So when her rounds are
complete, she invariably checks in at his place.
I'm sure they've worked out a system. Sneakers keeps Walter company,
which he enjoys thoroughly and expresses by pushing her around
with his nose. And Walter has agreed not to step on her, and to
toss a little grain in a corner to attract mice.
This kind of friendship is common between horses and other animals.
In fact, such friendships have been credited for the success of
Exterminator, affectionately known as "Old Bones," was
one of the greatest race horses of all time. He loved racing,
and nearly went berserk when retired. The only thing which saved
him from worrying himself to death was a pony named Peanuts. The
two became constant companions and Old Bones settled happily into
the leisure life. The horse and pony were such great friends that
when the pony died, Exterminator, then 30 years old, just gave
up and died within days. The two old pals were buried next to
I once had a horse named Matt Dillon. At the same time I had a
dog who loved to grab the lead rope of any horse and lead the
horse hither and yon. The dog broke his leg, but even with a bad
limp, he still hung on the lead rope and led the big horse around.
Naturally we had to change the dog's name to Chester.
Rabbits are a favorite with race horses and race horse trainers.
Rabbit cages are easy to hang next to the stall door, making it
easy for the horse and rabbit to wiggle noses.
Chickens keep horses occupied during long hours in a pasture or
In addition to providing the horse with playmates to chase, chickens
keep the fly population down---a little.
Goats are also quite popular. Orphaned foals find nanny goats
good mothers and as a rule, horses which need a buddy readily
accept goats as close companions. Folklore has it that a smelly
Billy goat nearby keeps horses from getting distemper.
I once judged a horse show class called, "Tandem Bareback".
I awarded a young girl and her dog, who rode right behind her,
third place. After the class she told me the horse wouldn't ride
"double" except with the dog.
Dogs, of course, are great for loading stubborn horses into horse
trailers. I know dozens of dogs at horse shows who carry the grooming
pail from one show pen to the next. I've even seen a dog who worked
a horse on a longe line. Don't invest in the longe whip business.
When we got back from the barn, Sneakers curled up in the "in-box",
covering her eyes and nose with her tail, and purred in contented
She'd had good day making friends happy.
Am I wrong to think she's a shy cat?