PDA

View Full Version : Keeping a Horse Calm?



AndreaGS
06-25-2008, 05:48 AM
Would covering the eyes of a horse keep it calm?

I have a horse thief - he tries to escape pursuit, but then decides it's best to face his pursuers. So he's going to tie the horses off to the side during the battle (three on one side, four on the other).

What could he do to keep the horses relatively calm? I thought about covering the eyes, but wasn't sure if that would be effective.

Thanks!

chevbrock
06-25-2008, 06:07 AM
It depends on the horse, I think.

Some horses like to wear blinkers, and some horses absolutely hate it.

As a horse is a flight animal, it may serve that not knowing what is coming for it may help to calm it down. Then again, they are an intelligent animal, and not knowing what is coming for them may send them into further panic.

Aragon
06-25-2008, 07:08 AM
Some horses will calm down with petting and whispering in their ear.

Penguin Queen
06-25-2008, 11:28 AM
It would depend on the horse, definitely.
Also - you say 'battle'. A battle sounds noisy. Even without seieng what goes on, the horses will be able to pick up noise & stuff, and that will panick them.
So on the whole, I wouldnt blindold them.
And finally, what period is your story set in? I somehow associate the 'Wild West' with a horse thief, or pre-industrial anywhere. By and large, poeple tended to be tougher with their animals in olden times; so your horse thief, while not wishing his merchandise to get damaged; would probably just have tied the horses with many a stout line to prevent them from getting away, and would have got on with it.

But maybe I misunderstand you? 'Both sides of the battle' sounds odd, if you're talking about hostilities...

KTC
06-25-2008, 02:25 PM
Some horses will calm down with petting and whispering in their ear.


That's what I used to do with my horse, Prince George. Whispering in his ear was incredibly effective.

JimmyB27
06-25-2008, 02:35 PM
Non-horse type chipping in here. I think it will also depend on the horse. If they are war horses, trained for battle, they are less likely to bolt, or need calming. If they are more used to parading princesses up and down, they will be more likely to get panicked.

Sarpedon
06-25-2008, 05:11 PM
I've heard blowing in the nostrils helps.

sheadakota
06-25-2008, 05:36 PM
Blind folded or not, if you leave them tied by the side of the road by themselves, they are going to spook if the loud noises going on around them are unfamiliar. A calm voice and a confident hand will help keep them calm. As already stated, horses are prey animals, it is instinctive for them to go into flight mode when frightened. If they are tied to trees- they could easily bolt and break the ropes or even the trees if they are scared enough-
My very seasoned gelding once bolted when a rabbit, who sat frozen until the horse was within two feet of it, took off running, the horse half-reared and zigged zagged- threw my husband took off like the devil was after him. He probably would have rant he entire three miles home, but I was on his mama and he wasn'r going anywhere alone- he stopped about a mile away- after I made sure my hubsand was reasonably Ok, I retrieved him.

My Hubby had a broken scapula and broken collarbone, but he got back up and rode the horse home (well, what else what he going do? couldn't call a cab!)

Horses are unpredictable when it comes to how they will act when they are scared, even if you think they are trained. soo, long story short- unless they are battle trained- they are going freak.

Kalyke
06-25-2008, 06:14 PM
It depends on how they have been trained. So if they are work horses, soldier's mounts, or other trained horses, they are probably not very jumpy around action. If they are badly trained, that is another matter. Green young horses, are usually very spooky, as are horses left out to graze for a while, wild horses, or untrained horses. The breeding makes a difference too-- some horses are just more easygoing than others. A yearling thoroughbred just in from the fields will be more jumpy than a 5 year old Morgan who has been trained for parades. If a horse is genuinely afraid of something he or she could possibly still bolt, no matter how well trained. A horse could do some task 100 times and the next time spook badly and cause harm. They are never 100 per-cent reliable.

lakotagirl
06-25-2008, 07:22 PM
What everyone else said.

Has he just stolen all seven horses? Assuming that they are everyday horses - not trained for battle, but trained for riding. I would bet that at least one (probably more) would be a handful.

I doubt covering their eyes would help - but you never know...

If I were that horse thief, I wouldn't try stopping to fight (and try keeping seven horses under control). If I absolutely had no choice but to stop and fight, I would try to move the fight away from where I had the horses.

auntybug
06-25-2008, 07:27 PM
After my short ride yesterday..I'd have to say - don't ride on the road with a bailer on one side and an 18 wheeler coming at you from the other.

ab - happy to be here today.

veinglory
06-25-2008, 07:57 PM
Blinders may or may not calm a horse, but they generally stop it from jumping around the place or running off.

Smiling Ted
06-25-2008, 08:06 PM
If he's a nasty guy who doesn't care about the horses' health, he could drug them.
Valerian and chamomile will calm them.

dirtsider
06-25-2008, 08:07 PM
It depends on how they have been trained. So if they are work horses, soldier's mounts, or other trained horses, they are probably not very jumpy around action. If they are badly trained, that is another matter.

Snip

If a horse is genuinely afraid of something he or she could possibly still bolt, no matter how well trained. A horse could do some task 100 times and the next time spook badly and cause harm. They are never 100 per-cent reliable.

It also depends on the situation. For example, I regularly spend time at a local living history farm where they use horses for most of the farm work. (The time period's 1890-1910's, just prior to or around the time of the first engine powered farm equipment.) Last year they bought a pair of mares from Colonial Williamsburg. These horses were trained to pull carriages and wagons. These horses were well trained for what CW needed. However, when the horses got to the farm, they were required to deal with situations they hadn't dealt with before, i.e. the farm work and having people moving around in a different manner from CW. So they were a bit more to manage than was cared for. They were then sold to another site, better suited to their needs. It wasn't that they weren't well trained, just not trained to deal with the farm's needs, which is both a working farm and a historical park. So they were a bit more jumpy/skittish as they were out of their element.

On the other hand, some horses adapt more easily than others, as Use Her Name mentioned.

So, the horses the thief stole are going to be more skittish in general just because they're out of their usual routine/"surroundings". You're going to have to take that into account as well.

TheIT
06-26-2008, 01:01 AM
For general horse questions, try here:

Horse Sense
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25643

Lots of good information!

Fenika
06-26-2008, 03:14 AM
I once covered a horse's eyes (stupid kid thing), and when I uncovered them the horse caught a motion (maybe my own hand) and nearly ran my sorry self over. I wasn't amused.

I've also worked a horse new to blinders, and it was great at focusing attention on me (as I gave commands from the saddle) but terrible when a deer waited for us to pass and jumped away. The horse was sensible though and easy to bring back down. The point is, a blinded horse can be overly sensitive to sounds that may be coming for it, Especially if it doesn't have the experience of realizing sounds won't come for it just b/c it can't see them.

Fenika
06-26-2008, 03:20 AM
A calm voice and a confident hand will help keep them calm.

I second this. I had a horse that would SPAZZ when separated from other horses. The second I took command and bossed him around, he'd melt. Not too bad as he was a 17hh Belgian TANK. Then I'd pause and you could see him start to worry again and I'd have to put his mind to something other than being alone with me (preferably before he started to bolt. Big horses can get a lot of momentum going).

Most horses will be quieted by calm authority as it allows them to fall into place. This only works if they believe you though.

Cheers,
Christina