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A Horse of Course

A Horse, Of Course
by Don Blazer

Is 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 many horses.
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 each other.
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 stall.
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 sleep.
She'd had good day making friends happy.
Am I wrong to think she's a shy cat?

Don Blazer
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