Why your horses won’t show you they are in pain: Lessons from Chewy and the chicken!
Heads up! Your horses WILL NOT show you they are in pain until the pain is so bad they can no longer hide it!
Why? Because they are prey animals!
And if you’ve ever watched a David Attenborough documentary you will know that the old, sick or injured are the ones that get EATEN!
So if you are a prey animal and you are old, sick or injured, you hide it for as long as you can… so you don’t get eaten.
Why is there a photo of a dog and a chook you ask?
I know that might seem a bit random but it is because the dog (predator) was showing me EXACTLY why the prey (in this case the chicken) try not to show they are unwell.
My dog Chewy normally pays no attention to my chickens.
But for three days she stalked this chicken who was ancient by chicken standards, I suspect senile and on her way out. Chewy literally sat by the fence or stalked her as the chicken moved up and down the fence, just watching and waiting for her chance (which she never got, just so you know!).
It really struck me that the old, sick or injured animals really are targeted. Chewy could easily catch any of the chickens, but she never bothers to stalk them… but this one she did! She just instinctively knew she was an easy catch and was waiting for her chance.
Instinctively horses know this! They know if they show signs of weakness they put themselves at risk.
Why am I telling you this?
Well…so that you understand that just because your horses ‘seem ok’ doesn’t necessarily mean they are. And as owners and riders we need to be SUPER vigilant for any small indications our horses may give us that something isn’t right.
Gastric ulcers are a classic example… and we often come across horses with severe ulceration but no ‘symptoms’ as such save for some subtle changes in behaviour or appetite, or even just a swishing of the tail when being ridden.
The moral of the story? Be vigilant, FEED WELL (because nutrition is your best form of prevention of many diseases and conditions) and be on the lookout for really subtle indications that something isn’t right because it might be all your horse ever shows you for fear of being eaten!
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