I read the following last night: “Horses have a sense of humour. Some have been known to take off the groom’s cap with their teeth and drop it in a bucket.”(1) I was so happy to know that I’m not the only one who thinks equines have a sense of humor. I have definitely experienced stocking cap games and many other manifestations.
I am a rather serious person, and I don’t consider myself having much of a sense of humor. My husband will sometimes say something about me to my face that I find offensive, only to find out he’s teasing me! My first pony, not surprisingly, was like me – quite serious and business-like. To this day, despite being together for fourteen years, she doesn’t like me to show her (human) signs of affection. My second pony seemed a huge contrast to my first, much more inclined to play games. I didn’t realize how small a contrast he really was until I got my first stallion. Talk about playing games!
For me there’s definitely a connection between a sense of humor and a play drive. I rarely if ever play human games, and my first pony wasn’t a game player either. I bought her to work, and we do that together famously. I now see the little games she plays that make me smile – tossing her head in a certain way for instance that says, “Treat, please!” My first Fell mare also seemed serious to me, and as an admirable herd leader, I can see how game playing might be inconsistent with that role. I have recognized her own head-toss/treat-request game more in the past few years since she abdicated her leadership role.
A few ponies that have come through my life stand out as game players, including my second who once ate my summer hat (made of straw) and still likes to mess with my stocking caps when they’re within reach. Some ponies enjoy playing with water hoses when we fill stock tanks; we have to clamp the hoses to the side of the stock tank if we walk away so the hoses aren’t removed by ‘helpers.’ A few ponies are so keenly insightful as to know what irks me and purposely performing the act to get a reaction from me. This is not unlike my husband’s teasing that I don’t understand. An opportunity for growth for sure!
My senior stallion Guards Apollo was the one who really convinced me that ponies can have senses of humor. He can be so expressive in a playful way that more often than not I find myself laughing when in his company. My husband describes him as being too gentle to act tough but knowing he should! You might be interested in the video Papa’s Manners on the Willowtrail Farm channel to see what I mean. (Apollo is available for breeding to outside mares, click here to find out more.) I’m glad ponies like Apollo are in my life to help me expand my sense of humor or at least give me examples to appreciate!
1) Hart, Edward. Pony Trekking. David & Charles Publishers Limited: Devon, England and North Pomfret, Vermont, 1976, p. 41.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013