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Two Horse Writing Tips: barn tour and common vices (2/2)

December 26, 2014

One of my horse trainers once told me that horses are like giant three year olds trying to figure out how they’re going to die and she was absolutely right. Horses are curious creatures and like to test the limits of things, including themselves. This can lead to some terrible habits, especially when bored. Here are common vices that are very popular with the equine crowd.

  • Rubbing their tail and/or mane—Penny’s had a few flings with this. To do this, a horse backs up their butt to a wall and rubs their tail against said wall. This causes the hair to fall out and it is apparently very entertaining to give oneself a haircut this way. For the mane, the horse sticks their neck between the pipe corral bars and rubs between them to make some lovely bald spots form.
Penny's rubbed out tail. See that bald spot? Nooooooooooo Penny why

Penny’s rubbed out tail. See that bald spot? Nooooooooooo Penny why

Some of the hairs Penny pulled out of her tail. They're now stuck in the wall seam

Some of the hairs Penny pulled out of her tail. They’re now stuck in the wall seam

  • Cribbing—Cribbing is where a horse bites a rail or a bucket rim or something similar and sucks in air. Once or twice is fine, but horses that make a habit of it risk knotting their stomach or intestines. People have made special cribbing collars that prevent horses from sucking in the air. Related, horses also like to slide their teeth up and down rails, which wears them down.
A cribbing horse

A cribbing horse

  • Girthy—To attach a saddle of a horse, the rider straps a belt of leather across the underside of a horse’s belly—the girth. If you’ve ever worn trousers with a too tight waist, you can imagine that this could be uncomfortable. Riders can easily cinch the girth too tight. Horses retaliate the next time a rider goes to put the girth on: they will purposefully breathe in air to bloat themselves, so the rider will think the girth is tight, but it’s actually around a bunch of hot air. Horses can also show their displeasure by stomping their feet, tossing their head, and walking away while the rider’s trying to cinch up.
Girthy horse...which I took from Shutterstock

Girthy horse…which I took from Shutterstock

  • Banging on things—There’s not a technical term I know for this, but bored horses like stomping on things. Whether it be a pipe corral, a nest of shavings, a stray bucket, or the plain dirt, hitting it really hard is somehow fun.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your second day!


From → Writing Tips

  1. S.R.M. permalink

    I thank you for this and for all other equine posts in this series! –They were a great help, and I hope to use them again in future.

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