Why do horses run and buck? Some may think that only crazy horse’s run and buck, but given a second thought most of us can think of several reasons that are truly rational.
Horses evolved in an environment where they were pray animals eaten by predators and their best defense was to run and buck. A Stallion needs to be strong, athletic and fast enough to defend his herd from other stallions, he also wants to make a sharp impression on his mares. A mare needs the same qualities to keep her position in the hierarchy. A horse must stay fit to be successful in everyday life. A wild horse may travel 50 miles in a day searching for food and water in different terrain and endure thru long winters and heavy storms.
Nature has provided horses with outstanding physiological assets. A lazy horse will be weak in lack of training and out conquered by an athletic horse. Domesticated horses survive with or without interest in physical activity, some may even rightfully be favored because of their exceedingly slow and safe manners. So a playful athletic mindset would be predominated among wild horses if that was true?
Our Nokota horses have been living wild for half a millennium, only one or two horse generations back, so how are their behavior? Well look at these pictures.
Every day after lunch they take a nap or just hang around with lazy looking eyes for an hour or two. Then when they wake up and feel a little stiff in their muscles they start grazing around, one of them may roll around to rub off some sticky dirt or winter furs. Rosie is our filly, or actually yearling, and when she sees that one of the other mares are rolling around she gets excited, at last someone to play with!
In just a few seconds all three horses are running. Our winter corral is only 100 by 45 yards but big enough for some serious horse athletics, can’t wait to see them in action in the summer pasture.
The horses uses all available space for their game, including the drove way up to the stable and the front yard, the “turf” is flying around all over the place.
Running and making sharp turns are part of the show, like a wilder version of roll-backs, run-down-and-stop. Bucking in full speed is another spectacular feature, probably very useful in the wild when being chased by a predator that is getting too close from behind.
Sometimes one or two of them stops to watch and admire the others make their moves, it’s a real circus show, great to watch. They are obviously having fun!
All doubts about the horses’ condition disappear; are they too fat, are we giving them too much to eat or too less, are their hooves alright, are their legs well? Only perfectly healthy horses can make a performance like this!
It also makes one realize the importance of keeping horses with mixed ages and personalities in a herd, young horses inspire the older, crazy horses inspire the lazy, so that all horses get their daily exercise and it makes life more fun for everybody. A big winter corral is important for horses.
(In Sweden there is even a paternalistic law, since a couple of years back, that says that horses must have a winter corral that is at least 33 yards long and no horse must stand alone. There is a long way until this rule is truly implemented though, some horse are confined in much too small corrals, if even outdoors at all.)
Now all we want is more horses like this! Above all it would be an amazing experience to see wild horses running free in their natural environment in places like the prairies of North Dakota and the Little Missouri Badlands.
All photos in this blog post were taken yesterday afternoon by our youngest daughter, Alexandra.