Johnny has always pulled faces when he is bored, restless or tired – a coping mechanism leftover from his racing days. Some horses paw the ground, or toss their heads impatiently, like Calais. Johnny just pulls faces – he crosses his jaw, plays with his tongue and twists his lips to one side. The other night when he was waiting for his dinner, he started nuzzling and biting at the rammed earth stable wall. I got a quick picture of his silly antics.
I’m used to it after all these years, but when new people see him do it, they always laugh. It’s pretty funny to watch and I’ve never seen another horse do what Johnny does, though I’m sure it must be common in ex-racehorses.
It’s a fairly harmless stereotypic behaviour – occasionally he might undo his rope or pull a rug down off the gate, he can be a bit of a pest sometimes. In the nine years I have owned him, this boy has never bitten or kicked anyone, he doesn’t windsuck or crib bite, so I can forgive him this one small vice.
Look at that face. How could you not?!