Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gabbrielle Learns Nice-Nice

Long-time readers may recall that when my gelding Bombay was young, he used to bite.  He'd bite the hand that feeds him and chomp down on my husband's belly if it was in the vicinity.  So, I somehow taught him to lick instead of bite by saying the command, "Nice-Nice".  I think it was a situation where he licked me once and I gave him all kinds of praise, so he kept licking and I kept saying, "That's nice-nice," until he associated that term with licking my hand.

Lostine and Gabbrielle never lick.  Lostine is a pretty bad chomper when it comes to taking food out of your hand, but Gabbrielle is thoughtful and gentle.  Yesterday I was standing in the barn, just hanging out with the horses and Bombay started licking my hand.  I said, "Awww, that's nice-nice.  You haven't done nice-nice in a long time."

Gabbrielle came over to investigate, probably thinking I was feeding him peppermints.  I offered her my other hand and she rubbed her lip back and forth on it.  She has the most nuzzling muzzle of all the horses.  She uses her upper lip like a finger.  She didn't find any peppermints, but stopped to observe what Bombay was doing.  She saw him licking, and she started gently nibbling my hand.  I pulled away and said, "No-no."

Bombay kept licking my other hand, all the while watching Gabbrielle.  She approached my hand again and rubbed it with her lip.  Bombay nipped at her.  She backed off, then approached again and tried nibbling.  I said no-no, and Bombay nipped at her again.  She backed off then approached again, unsure of what to do.  That's when the most amazing thing happened.

Bombay turned away from licking my hand and began licking Gabbrielle's lips as if to show her that he was using his tongue.  Her eyes lit up and she started licking my hand.  Bombay went back to licking my other hand, so I praised them both for being nice-nice.

I stood there for several minutes with each horse licking each hand, but then Bombay got silly and started trying to sneak in gentle nips.  I shooed him away, and he wandered off, but Gabbrielle stayed and kept licking.  I guess I should have picked up some salt licks at the feed store.  Oh well.  Next time.


Reddunappy said...

Horses are so funny!!

Dreaming said...

How much fun to watch one teach the other!

lilyrose said...

This post made me chuckle! Your horses sound like they are a load of fun! :)

Katharine Swan said...

I love seeing the signs of their intelligence and self-awareness. They are so much smarter than people give them credit for!

fernvalley01 said...


allhorsestuff said...

Pretty sweet there!
Love how your blog's namesake got entwined in the story~

achieve1dream said...

That is so awesome!! :D