My experience with horses could probably be labeled as intermediate.

My ability and knowledge fall somewhere in between that of world-class trainers like Buck Brannaman or Pat Parelli and people whose only exposure to horses comes from western movies. In other words, I probably won’t be breaking a totally green stallion in only 20 minutes any time soon, but I also know that not all riders can fire a .45 caliber pistol from the back of a horse that’s in full gallop and that not all horses want to be in full gallop while someone fires a .45 from their back.

In still other words, I might not be ready to hop on the back of a spoiled gelding I’ve never before seen that “acts up” every time its owner tries to ride it and have it suddenly look like it’s ready for Olympic dressage competition, but now and then I can let go of the reins and make a horse turn right or left using only foot and leg pressure or get it to stop using only body language.

But while my overall horsemanship prowess is light years short of expert, I have – if nothing else – learned that horses have very distinct and defined personalities and handle each and every situation in their very own, unique way.

No two of them react the same to being bridled, loading in a trailer, taking a bit, or being offered a treat. None of them share identical likes and dislikes, and none act entirely the same around people or other members of their own species.

And just like human beings, they display varying characteristics and behaviors when exposed to particular circumstances.

Doug Davison

Like being separated from a companion.

Last week, my wife Wendy and I found a buyer for a quarter horse gelding we had been hoping to move for some time now. We had nothing against Levi, we had simply determined he didn’t fit in our future plans. He was too big for my wife, and I already have Big Sur, my big-old Arabian, to climb aboard.

Only a day or two later, we brought in Bennie, a registered Tennessee Walker gelding whose official name is Beam Glow and whose size and calm demeanor are a good match for Wendy.

During the transition, we became witness to a fascinating bit of equine nature, as our other Arabian gelding, Sean, went through a gamut of emotion.

After Levi was taken away, Sean basically moped around like a little boy who had lost his favorite teddy bear. You see, General Sur is the self-appointed alpha male at our remote outpost and bosses around anything with hooves that happens to be in his proximity. But Sean had sort of made the slightly younger Levi his horse – not to boss around, but rather to nurture and even protect from the resident older tyrant.

When Levi went missing, Sean looked for him and waited for his return, often staring out over the barbed wire boundary that lay between him and the last place he saw his buddy as he was being trailered away. Poor Sean didn’t take it well, and eventually became one angry Arab.

When Wendy took one of his favorite snacks out to him (like some carrots or ginger snaps), he wouldn’t take them and literally turned and walked away.

“Traiter! You sent my horse away!”

Then Bennie showed up and Sean’s devastation was immediately replaced by elation. His countenance did a complete turnabout and his change of attitude was amazingly thorough.

Sean could easily have been like, “trying to bribe me with this nag won’t help; where’s my horse?”

But he instead seemed to hold no grudge against us, and was like “welcome, friend!”

Meanwhile, General Sur did his duty and established his superior rank by kicking up at the probee.

“Listen closely, soldier. I don’t know how they did things where you come from, but in this outfit I’m the law. Remember that and might just make it past the first week.”

Conversely, Sean went into welcome committee mode and graciously showed Bennie around the available acreage. Having previously lived in fairly confined space without much readily available fresh forage or water, Benny appeared to be impressed.

“You can graze on the grass over here, over there and over there, and here’s the spring head where you can drink water any time you want. Oh, and around behind the house, it’s OK to eat any apple you can reach on the on lower branches of that tree right there.”

“Get out!”

“No, really, they won’t mind.”

“Wow, this is going to be great!”

“Well, I’m just glad you’re here.”

“Me, too! This transfer might be the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Now that the transition period is past, Sean and Bennie hang out together almost continuously, and Sean even grooms his new BFF’s back once in a while. They’ve know each other for a length of time that could easily still be measure in days, but they’re alreday like two peas in a pod.

This weekend, Bennie will get his first chance to go trail walking in Texas County. I expect he and Sur will both have a good time.

But I’m also pretty sure Sean will have a conniption when he sees the general and the probee both loading into the same trailer in the morning. But then he’ll be on cloud nine when they return in the afternoon.

Sur will probably have to step in at that point.

“Wipe those tears off your face, soldier. You know there’s no crying in this outfit!”

“Sir, sorry, sir. I’m just so happy to see Bennie again, sir.”

“Well, we’ll let it go this time. But if you’re going to be in my command, you’ll have to grow a spine!”

“Sir, acknowledged, sir.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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