Rocky Says: Do horses have mental illness?

I once was really scared of the new water trough. I mean I was so scared of that thing that I wouldn’t drink, even when I was thirsty. Since my number one priority is being safe and comfortable, and I was really thirsty, I wasn’t able to take care of myself very well because I was so scared! Why was I so scared? Well, I heard this noise just didn’t make sense to me at the same time I saw something moving around that looked like it was alive. I later learned this was the water itself, but I couldn’t figure that out at the time.

Almost all of the time when a horse is scared of something we can use our senses to figure out if it is really going to hurt us or not. When it is something like a water trough, that really can’t hurt us, we’ll figure that out pretty quickly by smelling it, watching what it does, tasting it (if we can get close enough), watching what our friends do. But I just couldn’t figure it out. I was so confused!

My humans figured out pretty quickly that I was really scared so they spent some time helping me figure it out. They gave me carrots and hay. They sat on the water trough and they put their hands in it. They were relaxed around it. Boden was sticking his head in it and drinking, so then I finally figured out what it was. It was still scary the first time I actually put my nose in it because the cold water felt like something bit by nose. This scared me again, so the humans had to keep working with me until I realized this was the same feeling on my nose as when I stuck my head in a water bucket, which I was not scared of.

All of this was very logical to me, but the humans thought I wasn’t making much sense. I have to admit, it is really unusual for a horse to stay scared of something that really can’t hurt us for so long, but it just didn’t make sense to me. Sometimes even horses need help figuring out what makes sense so that we can move on and feel safe and comfortable again.

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About the Author : Holly Jedlicka

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