We’ve all grown up the visual story of cowboys on horses, herding cattle across the plains. Of horses fearlessly chasing down the rogue steer.
But horses aren’t born believing that they’re the masters of cows. They have to learn this. Most horses that I know haven’t had the opportunity to get to know what a cow is, let alone work one. The truth is that cows can freak out horses. They’re big, smelly, and make loud noises.
Tonka, though, grew up in Texas. Daddy was a well-known roping stud. (For more about Tonka’s breeding and upbringing, read this.) When Tonka was young, his owner played around on him a bit with ranch work. So, when Tonka gets a whiff of cattle (even if they’re placid New England dairy cows) he knows what’s around the bend.
See those flared nostrils and the upright head and neck? We’re headed towards the milking parlor.
But Tonka isn’t much interested in what’s in these barns.
What I’ve learned is that when Tonka smells cows, he assumes that means that somewhere nearby must be cowponies. Tonka gets a bit more keen scanning the area.
When the cows come into view, he neighs loudly to announce that he’s here, too. Hello!
It’s disappointing to Tonka when he realizes it’s just boring Holsteins under a tree.
What does your horse think about cows?