Friday, November 4, 2011

Tell tails

The kids are fuzzy, furry and quite full of themselves lately.

Fall has definitely rolled into our little corner of the world. Vividly changing leaves, browning pastures, a chill wind and horses acting like they are all hopped up on a wee bit too much espresso.

I love it. Fall is my most favorite time of year to ride: No bugs, no excessive sweat, wiggly, energized horses and the smell of fall just can't be matched.

My daughter asked me the other day if horses use their tails like dogs to express how they are feeling.

I had to think about it for a minute or they? Can you tell if a horse is happy, sad, angry, excited or scared by the way they hold their tails? You can certainly tell if they are being bothered by bugs or cold, but other emotions?

My answer was a definite yes! Just that morning I'd paused for a while to watch my three goof balls tear around the pasture like a herd of wild beasts, tails flying. Gabe's tail is the most expressive of the three. When he's excited that tailed is held straight up high and curling over his rump, much like an Arab's. Calypso tends to lift hers a bit, but not anywhere near as exuberantly as Gabe lets his fly. And Chief's tail generally doesn't do a whole lot when he's galloping around, it just kind of follows him, but when he sees something or feels the need to snort at something "threatening," he arches his neck and that tail lifts pretty high.

When Gabe is mad at me - and yes, he does get mad at me - he expresses that through his eyes, his ears and his tail. I've never been a big fan of assigning human characteristics to my animals, but he definitely pouts when he thinks he's been done wrong or not treated the way his highness thinks he should have been treated - his tail just hangs there, all rejected and dejected looking. When he's being chased off by one of the other horses, that tail is tucked up pretty snugly against his butt.

So yeah, I would say that while they don't use their tails to express themselves quite as frequently as dogs so, horses do use them, too. All you have to do is watch. And what better way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon than watching your horses express themselves so delightfully?


  1. I totally agree with you. I almost laugh when one of my haffies flags his tail, snorts and springs across the pasture. He tries so hard to look like an Arab, but with his chunky, clunky body, it's pretty hard!
    Pippin is a tail 'clamper'. If he is not trusting something his tail will be tightly held against his butt.

  2. Loved reading this post. You write quite well!
    Such a funny thing the " tell tails".
    Mine does tell me all sorts of things with hers. This fall ,while filming a common stretching/massage session on my mare while she ate hay...hilarious tail activity. She dislikes rubbing, tail was swishing like clockwork. When I got to the light pounding moves, in the same area...she stopped all tail movement and it Hung nicely from her not clammped, but free.