Horse body language is easy to read. There’s my horse Oki with his ears alert, standing tall, watching for any possible threat. It’s fun to watch my horses in their free time, to see what scenarios trigger certain behaviors. I’ve seen Oki standing guard like this on the following occasions:
- the neighbor is standing on their deck
- someone is riding their horse on the canal bank
- the German Shepard next-door is running in his yard
- a person is walking down the lane
All of these situations seem non-threatening to predator animals like us. But Oki is always ready for something hramless to escalate. If he senses danger, he’ll snort like a stallion, stomp his foot, and even charge the fence. I saw him run off a coyote one morning using these behaviors. Several of my neighbors have lost pets to coyotes, and I wonder if my guard horse helps keep my little ones safe.
But the sweetest time to see Oki standing guard is when he watches over a napping friend:
That’s what he was up to this morning when I saw him on the watch. Horses doze while standing off-and-on all day, but for deep sleep they need to lie down. They don’t need much, just an hour or two, but they run into a real problem to get it. Lying down makes them vulnerable. I’ve read that a horse on its own may not get enough rest for this reason. But, as I witnessed this morning, all you really need is one loyal friend to have your back.