Thursday, April 24, 2014

Even If Your Horse Is Not Afraid of A Deer, It My be Scared of a Scared Deer

The coveys of quail of my youth that used to spook my ponies and put me on the ground are nearly gone. We now have turkeys and a loudly flushing turkey can test a horse's nerves. Few things make the racket of a small band of deer jumping up in a thicket within a few steps of your horses. These things can rattle even an experienced horse.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that deer will never be a problem because your horses see deer on a regular basis and even graze with them.

The sound of panicking deer scares horses, but many people do not realize that the smell of panicking deer triggers a reaction in many horses, especially those who have lived int the wild.

On scores of occasions I have watched deer calmly cross a path a hundred yards or more in front of me. When I reach the spot where the deer crossed, my horses often to not even alert on the smell. One the other hand, when I have spooked deer as I approached and they flanked the path only to dart across the path, again, hundreds of yards from me, yet still afraid, I have had horses react strongly to crossing the spot where the panicked deer had crossed a few minutes earlier.

Obviously horses can detect and interpret the smell of other prey animals when those animals are terrified.

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