Horses can be scared of the silliest and craziest things. Their flight instinct can really put their owners to the test, and when that happens, you find out how different we are from our dear horses. While we may think it’s just a harmless robotic lawnmower, your horse might see it as a flesh-eating monster. To them, a fluttering piece of plastic is not just fluttering plastic, and a pony is not just a small horse. All of the above are potentially carnivorous and have horses as their favourite food. At least until the contrary is proven.
To understand dangerous things from the horse’s perspective
Horses are – with the greatest respect – creatures of habits. They like everything just the way it always is. If you change it up, they go nuts! If things suddenly appear out of the blue, they get scared. And that is the deal with flight instincts. Horses are just afraid of something because they simply cannot determine what it is. And when you are a flight animal, everything unknown must be taken as a threat and the solution is to run away, if you want to survive.
To clarify why horses are so afraid of completely harmless things, we will try to explain what happens, when your horse meets scary things – so you can see it through his eyes.
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The 10 most dangerous (and craziest) things:
1) If the rider breaks a wind
The horse: “wow, a weird sound! I’d rather have to buck her off for safety’s sake! “
Mysteriously, the sound of a fart is completely enhanced as it goes through a pair of riding breeches and hits the leather from the saddle. It always startles your horse when he hears the strange sound.
2) The ice cream truck
The horse: “What kind of a creepy and scary, blue elephant is this!?”
Few horses are excited about the ice cream truck – at least not the van that drives around during the summer months and delivers delicious ice cream! Is it the combination of the neon colors and the loud sounds that makes it so terrifying? – Yes, according to your horse.
The horse: “What kind of crazy thing is this? It has a carrot in its head, a branch on the side and just stares straight into the air … I think I need to walk a big circle around him.”
if there is anything that can make a horse want to go back to the stable again, it is snowmen! The same goes for sad leftovers when it melts.
4) Robotic Lawn Mowers
The horse: “A green pig!? It definitely eats horses! Goodbye, have a nice life!”
Unlike the snowman, the robotic lawnmower is the summer season’s treat! Sometimes it is there, other times it is not. And it is not entirely possible to find out whether it is an animal or a machine. Just as it may look like a green pig in the eyes of some horses, it can cause them to drop little green pigs all the way home.
5) Other farm animals
The horse: “A square horse with a wide nose and large spots…? What did they do to it? Well I’d rather not find out! ”
Ironically, many horses are afraid of other animals. Especially farm animals such as cows, sheeps and pigs, that the horse grew up with in the past, scares the living hell out of the horse. In turn, many horses are completely indifferent to larger farm machinery because they have grown accustomed to them since they were foals. There is just something completely scary about large groups of lazy cows on a field!
6) Small ponies
The horse: “It’s the strangest creature I’ve ever seen! Is it a form of troll with the legs cut off? We should rather keep it well away, human!”
No creature can beat the small, mysterious and wizard-like ponies and their tiny steps. They look like horses, and yet they don’t – and they’re so dangerous! The big horses often do not think that the little wool tufts are as adorable as we humans think.
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The horse: “One day they are there and the other day they are not. What the hell are they up to?!”
They come and go as they please. The big, dark bins that have been placed on the roads to scare the horses! Fortunately, as a rider you can teach your horse that they are not actually dangerous by letting him go and have a look at them.
8) Letters, decorations and rugs
The horse: “I’m not afraid of that”. (The rider changes diagonal) “No, now it was moving! Or did it? I’m just gonna keep an eye on it”.
The dangerous thing about the letters in the riding arena is that they do not always look the same; when changing diagonal, some of them suddenly appears to eat horses! The same also applies to the decorations at competitions and the rugs placed on the sides of the arena during winter. Everything is just more dangerous from the opposite side!
9) Spectators and trainers
The horse: “Don’t worry, human, I’ll make sure he doesn’t suddenly get up here. And he just has to think about taking the whip out – then I’m the one who’s gone!”
The spectators are not entirely to be recon with either. First time you ride past them, they sit facing one way, and when you pass again, they sit in a completely different way. The same goes for the trainer and his clever tricks, of course. Must be realle aware of those!
10) Horses with insect rugs
The horse: “Oh God! Has that horse been eaten by a zebra? I should start running now.”
A fellow species wearing a zebra striped insect rug and a similarly black and white striped fly mask is many horses’ worst nightmare.
No horse is fearless, but some horses are trustful. We dare say that it is impossible to teach your horse never to be afraid of anything. It’s not about making it fearless, but about making it trust you. And one must never punish a horse for responding to its instincts. In time, you can teach your horse to trust you and believe that when you say it is not dangerous, its not. Often it will still require a big circle around the dangerous object – but it is definitely better than not to pass it at all!
This article was originally published in October 2020 and has since been revised and edited.