[nagdu] Dogs VS. Horses

Ann Edie annedie at nycap.rr.com
Mon Aug 15 16:18:44 UTC 2011

Hi, Larry,

The socialization for miniature horses is similar to that for dogs, I guess. 
They don't chew up your shoes, but they do have to learn that your house 
plants are not meant as conveniently-located snacks.  They do need to be 
house trained and to learn that counter surfing is not permitted.  They have 
to be taught not to eat the cat's food or the dog's food, and to play nicely 
with the pet dog or cat.  They also have to learn to just chill out when you 
are busy and not to always be the center of attention.  Then they need to be 
exposed to all sorts of people and places, noises and activities, vehicles, 
stores, parades, construction sites, etc., so they will take all of these in 
their stride later as working horses.  And some of the time spent on baby 
socialization is just a matter of waiting for the baby to grow up to an age 
where you would want them to become a full-time working animal.  We didn't 
want to put Panda to work full-time until she was about 2 and a half years 
old, although she was quite mature and ready to go much sooner.

Panda doesn't run through the house, but she does like to walk around from 
the kitchen, down the hallway to the front door, turn left into the living 
room, left again into the dining room, and then left back into the kitchen. 
She also likes to roll on the living room carpet to get a good back scratch 
and to take a nap on the family room rug.  She goes to the door to greet 
guests when the doorbell rings, but she doesn't bark or jump up on people, 
so it is much more relaxed a greeting than with most puppies.

Since I had dogs before getting Panda, I had a lot of dog toys around the 
house, and Panda adopted some of them for her own.  She doesn't gnaw on 
nylabones or natural bones, of course.  Her favorite game is fetching and 
bringing back thrown objects, and her favorite objects to fetch are a canvas 
and rubber frisbee and some soft squeaky toys.  Minnies cannot open their 
mouths as wide as dogs do, so picking up a ball is difficult for them unless 
the ball has handles as some of the dog toys do.  Just as I did with my 
dogs, I taught Panda to bring the object all the way back and to put it 
right into my hand, rather than to drop it at my feet or to play keep-away, 
as some dogs do.  If she doesn't bring the toy all the way back to my hand, 
the game's over.

Panda has made up some original games of her own, which she has taught me to 
play with her.  One of these is called "Panda Catch."  This is a game played 
with 2 or more people and Panda in a large indoor or fenced outdoor area. 
All the people have to do is spread out and stand around near the perimeter 
of the space with a few pellets of grain in their pockets.  Panda will run 
across the space, around a person, and come into perfect heel position at 
their left side, at which point the person makes a clicking sound and hands 
Panda a tiny bit of grain as her reward.  Then she tears off toward another 
person and makes a tight little circle around that person to come into heel 
position once again, to get her click and treat.  The game can be made more 
exciting by having the people in motion so that Panda has to work harder to 
get into position.  It is also interesting to have each person have a 
different type of treat, and to see whether Panda starts to favor one person 
over another on the basis of which treat they have.  This game is especially 
good for giving Panda exercise in bad weather when it is difficult to get 
out on long walks.

Another of Panda's games I call "Show Me."  This is a game where we enter a 
room or outdoor area and I just put my hand on Panda's withers or rump and 
she starts walking around the space.  She will stop and point out to me any 
feature of the room or space that she thinks I might be interested in 
knowing about, such as a door, a gate, a staircase, a chair, a desk, a 
ladder, a traffic cone, a construction tape or barrier.  And, of course, 
each time she stops, I reach out and touch the object, click and give her a 
treat, and tell her, "Thank you for showing me the ...."  A variation of 
this game is one where I ask her to find specific objects around the space, 
like, "Find the steps" or "Find the water," and I click and give her a treat 
when she takes me to that object.

In confined places, like when we're riding in the car, we play a game called 
"Touch", where I hold out my hand in a particular position and say, "Nose, 
touch" or "Chin, touch" or "shoulder, touch", and Panda moves to place 
whatever body part I mentioned into or against my hand.  She knows which 
body part I want both from the verbal cue and from the position of my hand. 
Another game that she likes to play in the car is to pick up the leash if I 
let it drop to the floor and hand it to me, also for a click and treat.

For those of you who might be concerned that Panda is being fed continuously 
and might be at risk for becoming obese, let me asure you that this is not 
the case.  The tiny bits of grain that she gets throughout the day are a 
measured part of her day's ration, and since horses are grazing animals, it 
is actually healthier for her to get many tiny bites of food spread out 
throughout the day than it is for her to have a big grain meal once or twice 
a day.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Larry D. Keeler" <lkeeler at comcast.net>
To: "doggie" <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:44 PM
Subject: [nagdu] Dogs VS. Horses

> Ann is the socialization a lot different than with dogs?  I would imagine 
> that horses don't chew up your shoes!  What kind of toys do they use and 
> do they run through the house like dogs do?
> Intelligence is always claimed but rarely proven!
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