Sunday, July 11, 2010

Masquerade

Who Was That Masked Man?

What a curious morning.  I took the fly masks out when I went to give the Boys breakfast.

Of the three, Tucker was the most curious and he let me put his mask on first. His is a gray color with black fur trim.  I went back into the barn to get another mask and I heard squealing and stamping outside.

I went back out to see Chance acting like a stallion towards Tucker. He was squealing and striking with his front hoof.  Tucker kept trying to sniff noses with him but Chance would have none of it. Every time Tucker came near, he squealed and struck.

At that point. Toby trotted over and pushed between the two of them, apparently protecting Tucker.  With Toby between them, Tucker again tried to sniff noses and when Chance reacted aggressively, Toby snaked out his neck and snapped at him as if to reprimand him.  Chance moved off.

At that point, I tried to put Chance's mask on, but after I slipped it over his ears, he moved away so I couldn't fasten it.  I got out of the way as Tucker approached him again, trying to be friendly.  Chance squealed, spun and tried to kick him.  Once more Toby moved in to body block for Tucker.

It was pretty clear Tucker was totally confused by Chance's sudden aggression. The lure of feed in the stalls finally settled things down and I finished putting the fly masks on everyone, crossing my fingers that the masquerade ball would sort itself out.

To be honest, I was really surprised at Chance's reaction to Tucker's mask.  Tuck was sporting a silver gray mask with black fur trim.  Both Toby and Chance have gold color masks with chestnut trim.  Neither Toby nor Tucker seemed at all bothered by seeing the other horses in their masks, unlike Chance.  For him, it was as if he no longer recognized Tucker and began treating him like a stranger.

Clearly, he is much more visually oriented than scent oriented.  I wonder if it was the loss of eye contact with Tucker that upset him, or if he really didn't recognize Tuck.  For his sake, Tucker seemed really concerned that Chance was reacting to him that way. It was almost as if he was trying to reassure his pasture buddy and was both confused and upset by his behavior.

Toby, as the good herd boss and alpha horse, was trying to intervene to make peace between the two.  He had recognized that Chance was the aggressor and seemed to think Tucker needed to be protected. But he was, himself, not at all violent about it.  Instead, he kept using his body to get between the two antagonists to keep them from getting hurt.

It was a totally fascinating interaction.  Horse behavior never fails to interest me.

When I got home from church--after a successful performance--peace seems to have been restored at Follywoods.  All masks were on and everyone seemed to be getting along.

Boy, am I glad I got plain masks. Heaven knows what might have happened had I gotten those ones with the big comedy eyes on them I've seen advertised.

Who knows what Chance might have done?

8 comments:

  1. That's really interesting. I never have had a problem with masks and horses spooking at them. I'm glad they sorted it out among themselves. I like that there was a peacemaker in the middle of things.
    I can't imagine what would have happened with those big eyed masks. They sort of freak me out too.

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  2. I've seen that in a few cases - where a horse doesn't recognize a horse in a fly mask. I think they use facial markings and expressions more than we know for identification - I've also seen Lily mistake other plain bay mares for Dawn, even though they didn't look at all alike to me other than color and lack of markings.

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  3. Fascinating post. I like tghe fact that Toby IS the herd leader!

    Poor Tuck, he must have been so confused by chance's behaviour!

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  4. Absolutely fascinating! It is all the more meaningful to you because you know them so well.

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  5. how odd! but glad they've all settled..

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  6. Maybe Chance was making a fashion critique.

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