Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bounced outta the tack Part 4: Riley regretful?

Ri and I in 2009: We have HISTORY.
I fell of Ri on Thursday. Friday I didn't leave the house. Saturday afternoon, Bob and I went to visit him and pick up the clothes that I'd left at the barn. I said hi to some of the folks who'd last seen me sand-covered and flat on my back in the outdoor ring.  I was moving slowly, but on the mend, and told them so.

After "the incident" we decided to turn Riley out more regularly, at least when the weather and footing allowed. Ri had been turned out Friday and Saturday morning, so I expected to find a mellow, dirty horse.

A Greeting
I turned and walked toward Ri's stall and said "Hey Ri!"   He was eating hay, but when he saw me he came right over and.... He nickered! Ri never nickers. He also looked anxious. Bob was there, and we looked at each other. I patted him through the stall bars and he stood near me for a few minutes. He was wide-eyed, I swear.

Was he waiting to be fed? No. The horses had already been fed. As I stood by his stall, someone came to talk to me, and I got distracted. When I came back, Ri was back at his hay net and barely looked up when I called him.

I'm not sentimental, and I'm not suggesting... I don't know.... Who knows what horses see, or understand. Last time he saw me I was down and distressed, and someone else untacked him. Harv is very tuned into people, and a little insecure -- if he whinnied I would not be so taken aback. But Ri? He's friendly, but confident and independent as horses go. That whinny, the anxious look, are not part of his daily schtick.

I don't believe horses "love" us the way we love them. I do think horses know when someone is hurt, and when people are fearful or serious. Maybe somehow he knew something 'bad' had happened. I wonder.


  1. Funny, I believe horses can love us. And do. And have their own thoughts and feelings about how me interact with them.

    I have also had this concept reinforced by a conversation between myself, Ashke and a psychic. She had seen one photo of my horse, we were talking over the phone and she knew things there was no way she should have known. He communicated things to her that I was surprised he thought about. And yes, I do think it was real. There was too much specific references to events and actions that she could not have known.

    Maybe Ri was worried he had hurt you. Maybe he was worried you weren't coming back. Maybe he knew he had done something wrong.

  2. I once passed out on a hot day at a show, came off my horse, and lost my memory for awhile. I was lying unconscious, and, though there was green grass all around my horse, I was told he stood stock still over my limp body, sniffing my face.

    He had been completely calm ... dead calm ... all day. After they took me away (he never even saw or heard the ambulance because they parked it in a secluded area and left the lights and siren off), he was apparently inconsolable. When they brought me back from the hospital, all he wanted to do was sniff my face and he was super clingy.

    We like to think it meant something. I guess there's no harm in believing that.

  3. Horses aren't humans and therefore don't mimic our thought processes, but I DO believe they have a lot more equine thought processes than we will ever understand. Seems pretty clear that Riley was concerned, and you put his concern to rest. I would treasure that!

  4. That is really amazing, and thank you for sharing with us. I guess I AM sentimental and give animals a lot of credit for thoughts and feelings they may not have. But it seems pretty clear that Ri saw you and made a connection. "Hey, last time I saw her things were just wrong. Is she still Mom?" I agree with Michelle, an experience to treasure!

    (My dog is not so hard to figure out. Last night I was called by a neighbor who's had a death in the family, asking if I would go let their dogs out. So I headed out the door, on foot, with one of Sunny's leashes. My husband reported that she went crazy: barking, jumping at the door, behaving in general as if she thought I had totally abandoned her. She doesn't normally LIKE it when I leave, but this was unprecedented. I guess she saw "her" leash and "her" Mom departing, not in the auto, and that = panic attack. Pretty obvious!)

  5. My horse suffered a bad colic this past January, his best friend, his next door stall mate, a 13 year old mare, saw it all, including his being taken away to the hospital. She was inconsolable all night long and greeted him heartily upon his return to the barn, one colic surgery later. When I visited my gelding in the hospital, the day after the surgery, he whinnied and nickered to me and hospital staff said it was only when I came to visit that he perked up. Horses form families and recognize "their people." I have seen it first hand. As someone else said - "treasure it."


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