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Picking Pockets And Pooping

Posted by vwkoch, in horse stories 18 April 2012 · 474 views

OK, my horse has achieved professional pickpocket status. I’m not sure how she did it, because she hasn’t had much practice, but she managed to pick my pocket without me even noticing. What a pro!

This horse knows that taking food from my pockets is forbidden. If a carrot is sticking out of my pocket, she will nuzzle all around it to let me know she’s starving, but she won’t touch the carrot itself. However, it’s become obvious that she thinks the rule only applies to food.

What did she do? Well, I was squatted down brushing her front pasterns, and she put her head down at my level. She does so most of the time when I’m brushing her feet, just to be friendly or keep an eye on me or whatever, so I didn’t pay any attention to her. When I stood up, though, I noticed she had something black in her mouth. Because I had no idea what it was, I told her to drop it. She reluctantly let me have it, and it turned out to be my glove.

Now, it wasn’t as if my gloves were sticking out of my pocket. They were shoved deeply into the pocket of my winter coat, so she would have had to reach into the pocket to get to them. How she managed to do so without me noticing, I don’t know, but I think it represents a professional level of talent. Guess I’ll have to pay more attention when her head gets near my pockets now. I’m going to need to explain that the “no pickpocketing” rule applies to everything, not just to food.

However, she regained her standing as a “good girl” by her actions later that evening, which also really surprised me. This horse is quite well “housebroken.” She only poops in the corners of her stall or in the corners of the arena. When I get on, before we start working (or in between exercises if need be), we go to a corner (or another designated “rest stop” if we’re outside), and she takes care of business so she doesn’t have to go while we’re working. There are manure buckets in the arena, and I back her up to the buckets so she poops directly into them, saving me the need to clean up after her. (See http://forums.horsec...0&showentry=214 for more on this arrangement.)

Tori also almost never poops while tied (or just standing) in the aisle. She knows we’ll soon be riding or I’ll soon put her back into her stall, so she waits for the proper moment. Usually, when I get on, she just saunters to her corner to poop (or pee), but sometimes, she walks quite briskly and poops immediately, so I know she’s been holding it. The only times she poops while she’s in the aisle is when I lunge her instead of riding, so she doesn’t get to poop in the corner of the arena. Then, if I leave her in the aisle too long while I’m cleaning her stall and grooming her, she will poop in the aisle --- massive amounts that make it clear she was TRYING to wait.

That evening, I’d ridden her and she’d pooped, so her house-breaking was operating in full force. I was cleaning her stall, and I’d left her untied at her “grooming station.” (I tie her only when strangers are around, because she doesn’t need to be tied. People get worried about loose horses, though, so I tie her when strangers are around to keep them from worrying about her. That evening, I was the only person in the whole barn, so I didn’t have to worry about worrying people.)

Tori’ll usually stand alone (napping) for about 30 – 45 minutes before getting bored, which is usually plenty of time to clean the stall. The aisle floor is concrete, so if she starts moving around, it’s easy to hear, and if I yell at her, she’ll stand still again. That day, cleaning the stall took longer than usual, but when I heard her moving, I didn’t say anything, because nobody was around to be bothered if she wandered the aisle. What I expected was that she was coming down to the stall to check on me, but instead, she walked purposefully on by toward the end of the barn. I came out to see what she was doing, because it was unusual for her to be heading somewhere with such determination. The barn door at the end of the aisle was closed, so there wasn’t anywhere she could go (and she knows not to leave the barn anyway), so her behavior was definitely puzzling.

Everything soon became clear, however, as she reached the barn door, turned parallel to it, and backed toward a manure bucket in the corner where the aisle met the door. She needed to poop; she’d spotted the bucket; and she’d decided she didn’t need to wait to be put back into her stall. She missed the bucket by about a foot, but I thought she’d done pretty well for a horse who was used to having me do the aiming for her. I gave her a treat; cleaned up the mess; and sent her back to wait at her grooming station. I have to admit I was impressed by her initiative.

I’ve never tried to teach her to poop in a bucket on her own. I thought about doing it with a bucket in her stall, but I decided not to because she has a bucket as a toy and I was afraid she’d get confused. I did put a bucket in her main poop corner once just to see what would happen, and what happened was that she pooped all around it. At the time, I thought she didn’t understand the purpose of the corner bucket, but now, I think maybe she just didn’t know how to aim. I suppose I could teach her how to aim on her own, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. Cleaning the stall is not a big deal because all the manure is already in piles in the corners. Usually, there aren’t that many piles (and only one corner) because the stable employees clean once a day, too. So, I’ll probably never bother to teach her to do it on her own, but she’s certainly made it clear that she understands the function of manure buckets in corners. She just doesn’t know how to aim. Because I know that some guys aren’t very good at aiming, either, I can’t fault her for missing the boat, so to speak.

Anyway, she thoroughly redeemed herself from the pickpocketing episode by trekking almost the entire length of the barn (about 30 yards) to try to poop into the manure bucket so she didn’t mess up the aisle. She clearly IS a well-housebroken horse. I always love her but some times I love her more than others. That night was definitely one of those times.

Well,since she knows how to poop in a bucket,why not let her in your house?! :winking: I'm sure family would be thrilled at a horse in the house! :rotf:

She is one smart mare to learn how to pickpockets AND housebreaking herself. Mine just let them fall wherever. Hay,grain,water bucket...ugh. :duh:
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Unfortunately, she's also a very chicken horse, and when she's nervous, she can poop every 30 seconds or so. Even if she pooped in a bucket, the house would get pretty stinky at that rate. Still, it WOULD be fun to have a house horse. :happy0203:
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