Waiting for dinner

Johnny eating the wall

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.

Johnny waiting patiently

Look at that face. How could you not?!

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4 thoughts on “Waiting for dinner

  1. Is there peripheral vision when they look strategist forward–like his picture–or are his eye orbits sufficiently rotated to give him direct vision in both directions? Just pondering horse evolution over here in California…

    • Your ponderments always give food for thought, Jacqui! 🙂 They have a blind spot directly in front of their face, and directly behind their back end, apart from that they have close to 360 degree vision to give them the best chance to escape from predators. The blind spot in front of them is why pony clubs teach kids to always stand and work at a horse’s side, rather than in front of them, so they can always see where you are.

      There is often new research being done into exactly how horses see the world. The last I heard, it was believed that horses see down their nose when looking ahead, so they will raise their heads up high to look at things in the distance. That was a few years ago so new discoveries most like have been made since then!

  2. A few months ago Ngugi and I were in a Natural Horsemanship clinic. There were about 10 other horses and riders participating, so there was a lo o standing around during the groundwork session– watching the trainer work with his horse or others. She started doing the same thing you describe Johnny doing. Yawning super wide, twisting her neck in the same spiral as her tongue!! It was so funny. Other horses were beig kinda pushy with their riders, so I was happy that she knew how to entertain herself without me being taken advantage of:))

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