Monday, 6 April 2015

Why are horses afraid of pigs?

In my March Review I mentioned that some pigs have appeared close to the road on one of our hacking routes.  Basil was really unsure about going past them the first time and we crossed the road so that we weren't so close.  I wasn't sure if it was because of the noise they were making pushing their bowls about but since then I have found out that many horses are afraid of pigs.  

Basil actually passed them more calmly the second time we went that way so I am not sure he is actually afraid of them.  I am confident that he will get even better too!

I expect that most horses are unsure about them because it is unusual to see them.  Cows and sheep are quite often in the fields but pigs are a more unfamiliar site.  If horses saw them every day they probably would get used to them as Basil is. 

Pigs do smell different and often make plenty of noise either squealing or grunting. 
They are quite nosy too and so, unlike sheep, often come up to the fence or hedge to watch a horse go by. They often run up squealing and grunting in groups. This is obviously going to scare a lot of horses.

In the wild the tusks of a mature boar could cause serious damage to a horse's legs and tendons. Perhaps this is part of the reason, pigs are carnivores and would in the wild many years ago have eaten horses.  I don't think they hunted them but an injured or trapped horse would have been a tasty meal.    

  A seriously big pig in the U.S.

A horse's survival instincts are still very strong (see my Horse Psychology blog) so any unusual smell, sound or sight will make them nervous initially.  Some horses will get more confident, some won't, it depends on their temperament.  Basil does get better with time and exposure to these things and many horses are the same.

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Until next time!

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