There was a recent post on Facebook that postulates that horses don’t have frontal lobes and, therefore, cannot undertake higher mental functions such as reasoning. This would mean that horses cannot plan to be naughty or blamed for bad behavior or poor performance.
Well, no one told Zelda. After much thought and planning, Zelda has figured out how to break out of her stall. I haven’t seen her do it so I don’t know how much is finesse versus brute force, but, without a doubt, she reasoned through it. Why am I so sure? Because she’s done it before. She is an escape artist, for sure.
When she first came to me, we were at a co-op barn close to my house. I put her in a stall overnight, only to find that she had figured out that if she leaned on the door long enough, she could pop the lock off. Brute force.
Another time, she got separated from her BFF, Curly so that they were separated by a fence. Instead of waiting her time, Zelda ran at it. As she approached, she pulled up short, looked long and hard at it, then retreated so that she had more space and could take a longer run. She tried to jump it the second time but hit the top rail. Luckily, the fence wasn’t very strong, so she brought it down without hurting herself.
She also learned how to go through the electric fence. She waited until it was cold enough that the fence wasn’t grounding well and then walked through it. I found the fencing down and she stood and watched me fix it. As soon as I turned my back, she chested it and brought it down again.
She’s not the first horse that I’ve owned who partook of a bit of Houdini-inspired mischief. Kroni, my Trakehner, could unlatch just about any door latch you put in front of him. He was sneaky and wouldn’t let himself out if anyone was watching. One day I hid in the tackroom and peeked through a crack in the door. He was masterfully adept at using his upper lip to slide the bolt back. At which point, he walked right out.
He is, however, the only horse I’ve known who broke into his stall. One day I left my two dogs in his stall while I went to run errands. When I came back an hour later, the stall was open and the dogs had vanished (it took hours to find them). At first I was angry that someone had been rude enough to let them out. Finally, I figured out Kroni had wanted to go in and had opened the door himself.
Zelda now has a chain and clip to keep her where she belongs. She looks forlorn staring through the bars and I know she’s been examining it with great care, but so far she’s not figured out how to escape again. I’m planning on bringing her a stall toy to keep her entertained. I understand her frustration as it’s the first time in six years that she’s been asked to live in a stall and she hasn’t quite reconciled herself to it.
Is your horse an escape artist? What “tricks” to they have up their sleeves?