The tale of the side eye: or a brief about personality in red horses

First off, this post isn’t about Jellybean.

I know, the title had you convinced. This is actually about Knots. As you may remember, Knots had an interesting life before I started riding him. I don’t exactly know what, but I know there was definitely a tie down, and he galloped away like his life depended on it when the wrong button combination was pushed.

Fast forward a couple of years. At this point in our training, we have started figuring out some things. We mostly know how to move of the leg, and we can almost carry ourselves at the canter without leaning on a shoulder (except in jumping situations). We are fairly comfortable over 2’6″ and we have jumped over 3′ a couple of times without dying. As Knots has gotten more confident that I am not going to murder him (at least not on the daily), he has developed some… quirks.

Knots knows his name and my voice. He likes to train me to collect him from the pasture. Sometimes he will come trotting over… and sometimes he will turn and gallop away. This is oddly directly correlated with how many cookies I have brought into the pasture recently…

Did I mention Knots loves all kinds of horse cookies? [warning, poor training ahead] I have actually jogged up the driveway with Knots following me for cookies a few times. He didn’t make it all the way to his pasture though, because the grass was easier to eat than the cookie.

Its slightly unwise to stand in front of Knots and chat with people. He gets bored with people talk and looks for more exciting things. Like shoulders. Did you know biting shoulders was fun when people are doing boring things?

Knots also gets bored when you stand in an arena and talk to people. He doesn’t care if your instructor is providing key feedback. He doesn’t care if someone is relating a crisis. He’s bored. And this means he needs something to chew on. Every once in a while he surprises me and chomps down on my foot. Usually though, I can pull my foot back just in time for him to rake his teeth across the stirrup iron…

Finally, the most expressive thing Knots has is his eyes. Specifically his side eye. He especially likes to demonstrate his annoyance at me when he’s on the lunge line.

Knots thinks lunge lines mean too much work. He could be getting enormously overweight eating a round bale instead… Knots likes to throw down the side eye in other situations too. A couple of weeks ago the chiropractor adjusted him. When she started moving his tail around, she got some major side eye. He really thinks he is just too good for the rest of us.

Don’t worry, Knots doesn’t quite have as much personality as the red mare in my life, but is that nature or nurture at this point?

Knots on left, Jellybean on right

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