Quantcast

Jump to content

Photo

Can Horses Sense When Their "buddy" Is Dead. . .even If They Don't See It Happen?


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 JoMarieM

JoMarieM

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 393 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:18 AM

Yesterday we had an old horse at our barn who passed away. He was a 37-year-old gelding named Tanner, who belonged to the BO and who had lived on the property for most of his life, and the BO made the sad but necessary decision to have him put down due to a number of health issues. For the last couple of years, off and on, Tanner lived in a run next door to my mare, Berry, and the two were occasionally turned out in the pasture together as well. They got along well, for the most part, despite their age differences (my mare is nine), and sometimes when they were in turnout together, Berry would even "protect" (although it probably could have also been "guarding") Tanner from any other horses that came near them. In the runs, whenever I took Berry out, Tanner would get anxious and neigh constantly until I brought Berry back within his sight. The two apparently developed a bond, which seemed to be even more obvious to me today.

Today my mare was acting very strange, very edgy and jumpy, constantly peering over the gate of her run. I turned her out in a turnout pen for a while, within sight of other horses, in a place where she's been turned out before, and she kept snorting and pacing as if something was really bothering her. I took her back to her run and she calmed down a little, but still acted as if she was on high alert. It was mystifying because I couldn't see or hear anything unusual, and the weather was very nice (unseasonably warm, in fact). There were lots of other horses turned out and none of them were acting as if there was anything out of the ordinary. According to the BO, Tanner's euthanasia did not take place in an area where Berry could have seen what was going on, so that really doesn't really figure into her behavior either.

I was especially worried at feeding time. Normally, Berry has a very hearty appetite and tends to strew her hay all over her run while consuming it. But tonight, she just barely touched her food -- she only took maybe two or three mouthfuls of grain and barely nibbled her hay -- and kept standing and staring over the rails of her run, looking toward the barn, as if she was waiting for Tanner to come back. The strange thing is, a couple of times this winter, the BO moved Tanner inside the barn during very cold weather because he was bothered by arthritis, and Berry didn't seem to be too worried about that. Berry has lived at this barn for three years now and I've NEVER seen her act like this. I've especially never known her not to touch her food. She wasn't acting sick, just uneasy and worried.

Can horses really sense when an equine companion has died, even if they don't witness the actual death? Your opinions. . .

#2 Eskielvr

Eskielvr

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 9,276 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Out in the Pasture!

Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:23 AM

Not a horse expert by anymeans.. but I do believe that she knows..


I think she senses something is different.

Smile.... it will make people wonder what you are up too. :happy0203:


#3 Desert Lane Training

Desert Lane Training

    Desert Lane Training & Equine Sales

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,107 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Kennewick, WA

Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:45 AM

She may not know he is dead but she knows he's gone...as in not there in his pen where she thinks he ought to be. I think horses do miss people and other horses that they develop bonds with.
HORSES
Rustic Elegance "Justyn" 1992 Chestnut TB Gelding

OTHER FURRY FRIENDS
Edison - 2010 Weimaraner (Dog)
Justyce - 2003 Tortishell/Himilayan (Cat)

My Youtube Channel

Hunt & Jump FREE Horse Genetics Game
Posted Image

#4 Guilherme

Guilherme

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,514 posts
  • Location:In the Green Valley

Posted 30 January 2011 - 09:30 AM

Horses, being prey animals, are very closely tuned to their environment. Other horses are part of that environment (as are other livestock, companion animals, trees, fences, people, etc.). Change one these factors (by either addition or subtraction) and you can get a reaction.

Do the other horses know that one of their number is gone? Yes. Do they know "why?" No.

G.
Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

#5 dgRuffian

dgRuffian

    Ruff

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:With my horses

Posted 30 January 2011 - 12:24 PM

We can say horses do not know an equine companion is dead for the same reason that we can say they do. I tend to think they do based on my observations. After my gelding lost his best buddy, I watched him go through the entire grieving process; from depression to anger to acceptance. He stood over his buddies grave for a month to the point where I had to feed him there. He lost weight and never strayed far from the grave. During his anger phase, he was so nasty that all I did was feed him and just left him alone. A few years later, I bought another horse and they became buddies but this horse died 3 months later. This same gelding did not repeat this behavior and acted like nothing was different. I also had two aged geldings who were together for 25 years - they died within 2 months of each other. The one who died last never had a sick day in his life. He just laid down and died.
While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth......George Bernard Shaw

‎I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. Thomas Jefferson

“We all love animals, but why do we call some of them pets and some of them dinner?”

#6 Wild Rose

Wild Rose

    Horse Maid

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 48,365 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Hibbing, MN

Posted 30 January 2011 - 12:51 PM

When Chief died, Rosie was able to see his body lying in the barn. She didn't react to it at all when she was allowed in the barn. I supposes she just saw him there, and didn't think another thing of it.

Now, if I had allowed her to go into the barn with him right after he'd died and been able to sniff him, maybe she would have realized that he wasn't alive. Chief died about 1:30 in the afternoon, but I didn't let Rosie go into the barn till around 4. Chief was buried about 5 PM.

Once the body was not there anymore, she panicked. She ran around and called for him for a long time. It took days for her to quit calling for him, too.

So, in Rosie's case, I don't think she knew he was dead, just that he wasn't there anymore. Maybe if she'd been near his body longer, it might have been different, but I just don't know.

I wish I would have let her be near his body longer, but what's done is done. Rosie has Jedi now, and all is fine.

BOARD BUDDY CLUB MEMBER I have met 33 board buddies!
MEMBER OF OZLAND SURVIVORS
MEMBER OF THE TURD POSSE - MSTRBKBHRWNS

Rosie, aka Hankie Doc

http://www.allbreedp....com/hankie doc

 

PrettyRosie-1.jpgChiefforsiggy-1-1-2.jpgIMG_0194cropped-1.jpg
Rosie....................Chief...........................Jedi
Rosie_in_the_mist.jpg
Rosie in the Mist

R.I.P. Snow Chief, August 25, 1980 - April 16, 2009
You were the best trail horse ever.


Old dogs and children, and watermelon wine...


#7 LoudAppy

LoudAppy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,102 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Missouri

Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:07 PM

When Windy died, we buried her in the pasture where the other horses were. When we brought the trailer with her body out to where her grave had been dug, the other horses filed by, touching their noses to her. It was almost like a funeral. They said goodbye and walked away. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. They didn't seem to be depressed or anything, none of them went off their feed. I think it was cathartic for them to see her and know for sure where she was.
AKA Jayme's Mom
Finally met some Board Buddies!!! robertbel, SpiffyGirl, Just Me, Skippen, vickylynn, HoofsinMotion - the MOBB

Eagle, Johnny, Hurricane & Jack,
Grazing in the front pasture
Windy, 1989-2007
Grazing on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge

#8 Alaskandraft

Alaskandraft

    Let it snow!

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,856 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Somewhere near Santa Claus

Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:27 PM

Like "G" stated they know that they are missing , but not the reason why. They don't morn like humans or elephants do. They could care less...just that a horse is missing. Trust me they get over it in a few days. They are really self absorbed creatures..

When Felle died of a heart attack a few years ago while sleeping in his favorite sunning spot..all the other horses just avoided that area for awhile...must have been the smell of death or something. They were back to the "Sunning area"and took over HIS spot within a few days..

AD

b575c2b0-fc46-4324-b0e9-28cf032b9558_zps

 

Home of :

The horses/ Bonita Angelica, JJ Tuff Butt, Snows Miss Nooks, Pleasantly Pefect, Zephyr and Airee

The Dogs/ Indigo, CoCo, Max and Minnie   The Cats/ Tynee Kitty, Mockie, Tigger 


#9 Guilherme

Guilherme

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,514 posts
  • Location:In the Green Valley

Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:57 PM

Ah, a horse in the wild that "grieved" over the loss of a companion would be slowed in its response to danger and would, shortly, be reunited with its companion accross the Rainbow Bridge. Thus the "grieving trait" would be quickly selected out.

I've heard stories for years about "grieving horses" and don't believe a one of them. Not that people are lying, but rather they are misinterpreting what they see.

G.
Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

#10 Wild Rose

Wild Rose

    Horse Maid

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 48,365 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Hibbing, MN

Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:08 PM

When Windy died, we buried her in the pasture where the other horses were. When we brought the trailer with her body out to where her grave had been dug, the other horses filed by, touching their noses to her. It was almost like a funeral. They said goodbye and walked away. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. They didn't seem to be depressed or anything, none of them went off their feed. I think it was cathartic for them to see her and know for sure where she was.


In this case there were other horses, so it wasn't like only one was left...alone. When the survivor is left alone, without any other companions, he gets stressed. And that's because they are herd animals. I don't think it's because they are "grieving", necessarily.

But, who knows. Maybe horses DO grieve. Not in the same way we do, though.

BOARD BUDDY CLUB MEMBER I have met 33 board buddies!
MEMBER OF OZLAND SURVIVORS
MEMBER OF THE TURD POSSE - MSTRBKBHRWNS

Rosie, aka Hankie Doc

http://www.allbreedp....com/hankie doc

 

PrettyRosie-1.jpgChiefforsiggy-1-1-2.jpgIMG_0194cropped-1.jpg
Rosie....................Chief...........................Jedi
Rosie_in_the_mist.jpg
Rosie in the Mist

R.I.P. Snow Chief, August 25, 1980 - April 16, 2009
You were the best trail horse ever.


Old dogs and children, and watermelon wine...


#11 dgRuffian

dgRuffian

    Ruff

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:With my horses

Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:00 PM

G - I do not agree with you. The gelding I have is very buddy sour. When I hauled his buddy away for 3 days he freaked for all those 3 days, ran around the field and developed laryngitis from from screaming so much. After she died, he did not call for her or act like she was gone. He just stood over her grave as I described in my previous post. Emotion is not specific to humans. Organisms respond to stimuli because it aids in survival. Love is an attachment behavior that aids reproduction and survival of the offspring. The domestic horse has different behaviors as compared to wild horses so stating that hanging around their dead buddy or offspring goes against survival is not always applicable to domestic animals.
While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth......George Bernard Shaw

‎I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. Thomas Jefferson

“We all love animals, but why do we call some of them pets and some of them dinner?”

#12 Alaskandraft

Alaskandraft

    Let it snow!

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,856 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Somewhere near Santa Claus

Posted 30 January 2011 - 11:52 PM

When I purchased Airee ten years ago I also bought another mare with her.. They were "forever buds" had been together for years. I was told by the previous owners that they were unseparable.That they would call and call to each other for hours when the other was gone...However the other mare got sick and ended up twisting her gut so she was put down...I was worried that she would grieve..Kinda stupid of me since I know better...But she did call..She was sour for Belle to come home.She was really insecure more than anything. I would not call it grieving but she had to make freinds with the other horses.like finding a grooming buddy that did not bite her....something she did reluctantly.. See I believe her barn sourness with Belle was because she was familar her and felt safe since Belle was the dominant of the two. They were stall mates for over 20 years...Airee has other friends now.. with Wakina and Zephyr because they put up with her goofyness without reprimanding her herd wise...Airee is on the bottom pecking order because she does not have it in her to be a herd boss..this is something I believe is a taught behavor from their mothers...

People l see what they want to see into this behavor as they do when they think their horse really loves them unconditionally..I have a horse that kisses me when greeting me..I kiss back he gets a treat..will kiss other people as well..But love??? He loves his treats more and its his way of getting them! Horses understand one thing..pecking order and the fear of loosing their statice with the hered..


AD

b575c2b0-fc46-4324-b0e9-28cf032b9558_zps

 

Home of :

The horses/ Bonita Angelica, JJ Tuff Butt, Snows Miss Nooks, Pleasantly Pefect, Zephyr and Airee

The Dogs/ Indigo, CoCo, Max and Minnie   The Cats/ Tynee Kitty, Mockie, Tigger 


#13 Ann Wheeler

Ann Wheeler

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 12,933 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Winter Wonder Land

Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:46 AM

Sienna witnessed what to Dakota.
she kept pacing in her stall , I couldn't let her out, due ot the investigation couldn't touc h anything until the crime scene was done.
For her safty we moved to another location for a week
shecame back, she seeme d to know where we buried him, for she tood over the area, with her down fora couple fo days. then she moved on.
Sienna is BLM mustang....
She knew where he laid. I beleived she missed him........

I think they do grieve in their own way, yes they do miss thier companion when they aren't there..
yes horses get attached to humans, can form a strong bond dakota did to caili,he would really only respond to her. When he /heard the school bus come, he would race up to his gate,and nicker/whinny like crazy, she would go out there., didn't matter when he had a another companion with him, he did this without fail everyday. When caili left, for two weeks, he would stand at the gate several hours, waiting for her to get off that schoolbus for the those two weeks she was gone.....

wally and caili also havea very strong bond as well,
he does the same thing he looks for her as well, still does, yet he knows she will be here when she can.
He acts likes he could less,when she does come home.Yet will respond nudging her . At the show grounds, while in his stall, he always looked out , watching for her...

when his show stable mate passed on, Wally knew something was wrong, when his show stable mate didn't show up at the show grounds, he would nicker at other grey horses thinking they were his buddy.
.
I believe when ther companion disappears, are gone, they do miss them,
I beleive horses do connect from a bond. with people . I read Dilutes story.
Her filly Fancy and her had that special bond.

Edited by Ann Wheeler, 31 January 2011 - 06:52 AM.


#14 journeysgirl

journeysgirl

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 6,824 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Indiana

Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:55 AM

I witnessed a friends horses when she had to put one down. She left his stall door open and her various horses all came in and inspected the body. All had different reactions. Most just sniffed and pawed a little. But her one mare, she was herd boss and she snorted, pawed him all over, called to him as he laid there. Bit at him. She knew something was wrong. She went at that for an hour before she finally gave up and walked away. She was also very depressed and would hang out ON the grave for quite some time.

1c958838-4475-4695-b61d-b8ec73e28191_zps

 

If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you to.
The winds of heaven blow between my horses ears (Arab proverb)
Everyday you are unhappy is a whole day wasted not being happy.
Eff em and feed em fishheads!


Member of the "I met a board buddy club" : MarsCandyBar, Apps4life, Appyluver, Snowyhorse, Greenhaven