Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I find it interesting how each animal has its own communication style. For instance, my Corgi tells me what she wants by pointing her eyeballs in the direction of the object of her desire. If she wants to go outside, she keeps her head facing me, but rolls her eyes toward the door. If she wants a snack, she rolls her eyes toward the closet where we store the dog food. I appreciate this method of communication, as it is subtle, unobtrusive and polite.

My Labrador, on the other hand, tells me what he wants by running up to me and wagging his tail, then leading me to the location of interest, often times zig-zagging across my path and tripping me. If he can't find me, he barks. If he wants to wake us up to let him outside in the middle of the night, he flaps his ears and smacks his lips. If things get really bad, he whimpers and whines.

My Shelty hasn't quite figured out how to communicate directly with humans, so he just tells the Corgi what he wants, and she comes to us with his request.

Feeding time is an interesting time for communication with the horses. Though Lostine rules the roost, she tolerates Gabbrielle running to the feed trough first. However, Bombay must stand back. If he attempts to get between Lostine or Gabbrielle and their food, they'll attack him with bared teeth and flailing hooves. So, as soon as Bombay spots me heading for the haystack, he moves off to the far end of the paddock to make it clear to them that he will not challenge the order in which they eat.

Gabbrielle runs up to the fence and follows me along it, blocking me with her body. I can't throw the flake of hay over the fence into the feed trough, because she stands between me and it and blocks my trajectory. I tell her to move, but she doesn't get it yet. So, I run to the other trough and throw the flake into it before she can spin around and chase me. That's when Lostine chases her off, because Lostine feels she must be fed first.

Occasionally, Lostine partially stands between me and the feed trough. All I have to say is, "Move your head," and she bends her head to the side to give me room to throw the hay. I find it rather amazing that she can understand what I am saying and do exactly as I ask. She probably does not know the word "head", but understands that her head is in the path of where I need to throw the flake. Now my goal is to teach Gabbrielle what I mean when I say, "Move your body." I may need the help of a lunge whip to get it to sink in.

Once the girls are settled in, Bombay comes forward to eat out of his feed trough. He learns a lot by watching and knows better than to stand between me and the trough. He is such a gentleman the way he stands back and waits for his invitation to come to the table. I can almost picture him in a tuxedo with a napkin tucked into his collar.


Jenn said...

What a cute shot of Gabbrielle and Bombay! Gabbrielle has those "pointy inwards" ears that I adore.

My lab communicates exactly the same way, except he's a barker. He's also quite old and I think going a little bit daft. He barks, barks barks at someone until they get up and follow him...he keeps barking until he's at his desired location. If he needs to go out, he noses the sliding glass door and barks at it until someone lets him out. My daughter is in charge of feeding them, so, as soon as she crawls out of bed in the morning he's following her around, barking at her, running to the food storage and barking, and running back at her, barking, until she feeds them.

All my horses know to go stand at their buckets and wait patiently for their meals. If they get snotty or pushy or rude, I walk right back out with the food and they get to wait while the others eat. It only took once for Gabe to figure out he will be denied his meal if he's not nice about it! Calypso stands in front of her bucket and doesn't budge as soon as she sees me walk out with their feed. She knows following me around isn't going to do her any good, and will most likely delay the meal. Chief gives Calypso ugly faces at feeding time, but it's just faces, no chasing or rudeness, and she pretty much ignores him.

Gabe lives in his pasture alone, so he gets fed alone and he follows me, but doesn't nose me or push me or try to get the food before it's in his feed tub. He has learned he has to wait until I tell him it's okay to dig in. He didn't like it AT ALL when he got rude with me once and I just turned around and left without feeding him!

Andrea said...

You have a tri colored corgi!! SOOOOO cute!! I never knew you had three dogs!! It is very interesting how they all communicate with out talking. My older dog is the silent type. Our new puppy is anything but silent.

Bombay looks really good in that picture!! He is so handsome.

Our horses definatly have a pecking order. Thank goodness they are fed in stalls. The mares can get really bossy.

Vaquerogirl said...

Really nice pictures of the two horses! Very Pretty indeed! And the corgi with the panties- what a hoot!
I had a horse that talked to me. Really. I could understand him perfectly!He was an Arab too!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Your Shelty is gorgeous! He looks very gentle and loving.
That photo of Gabrielle and Bombay is really good, but also sort of funny. Their expressions, like "What is THAT?!!" make me smile :)

I would not be surprised if your smart Lostine understands the word head. If a horse can learn, Whoa, Back, Over, Walk, Canter, Lope, Stand, and Come here...then why not 'Head'?

And then some horses are so in tune with use that they seem to read our minds.

Anyway, I like the creative title of this post. So true :)

New Mexico

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

What darling dogs and gorgeous horses!

EvenSong said...

My babies learn early that I won't throw their hay until they move outta the way. The big issue comes when two of them are put together: one will move aside, and the other will move in to fill the void; then that one will realize she needs to move, but the first will now worry that she's not getting any, so will move in again! Often one will finally push the other out of the way, as if to say "Hey! we're not getting any until we BOTH move!" This happens every year when the yearlings come in from pasture for the winter!

Shirley said...

My Reba dog is like your corgi; she sits and stares at me and gives sideways glances at the object she wants; usually food! Tess comes up to me and "talks". Not barking, more like groans and wuffles. She's hilarious!