Who’s been walking on my trails?

The Flehman response
The Flehman response occurs when a horse (usually a stallion) curls up his lip to temporarily close his nasal passages and sample a scent.

A few days ago I took Freedom out for a walk on our trail system. These are old, familiar trails that we ride on frequently. Immediately, he dropped his nose to the ground and followed a scent like a bloodhound. He spent most of our walk checking out the scent, making me wonder what new horse had been walking on our trails!

Although you don’t always think about it, horses have a highly developed sense of smell which is part of its defense system against predators. Horses can actually detect the smell of an individual horse’s track from the oil secretions from the frog of the hoof and it’s one of the reasons why horses can often find their way home even when their riders become hopelessly lost.

In the wild, stallions mark their territories using manure and urine; I know that even in domestic settings horses often go to check out the droppings in a field, just to see if there’s anything (or anyone) new.

I’m not sure which horse was walking on our trail system last week, but I’m sure that Freedom has filed away that scent and will recognize it when we come across that horse in the future.

One thought on “Who’s been walking on my trails?

  1. I find it incredable that so called “experts” who give adive on horse training do not understand the horses sense of smell. I am old enough to remember when horses were the main mode of transport. They were better understoood then and they behaved better. Experts used smelling a potion called Pax which calmed horses and made them easier to handle and easier to communicate with. The sense of smell is the horses main communication tool

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