“I’m afraid that your horse is autistic.”

Coming back from town after the Monday morning water run, D&L stopped at the barn rather than going on to the house so that they could feed the horses without having to walk back and forth. D said, “There’s been a change in the way we feed, so you should come in and see.” Because sometimes I fill in for them when they’re out of town for doctor appointments and such.

The change was a reduction in the amount of pellets and the addition of hay to each meal, which they only used to get in the evening. I didn’t ask why: It almost certainly has more to do with my neighbors’ very particular natures than any special dietary requirements but I could very well be wrong.

But one change had to do with a horse’s very particular nature: “You can mix Coal’s hay with his pellets, but don’t do that with Doc or he’ll throw a fit.” And he will, too: I’ve seen it before. Doc is normally more laid-back than Coal, much safer to turn your back on, but in the matter of his food he suddenly becomes Rain Man.


Horses is weird. Civilization didn’t really become possible until the internal combustion engine: based solely on my admittedly limited experience with them, I don’t really understand how horse-based societies even managed to function.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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4 Responses to “I’m afraid that your horse is autistic.”

  1. Robert says:

    ” how horse-based societies even managed to function”
    Slowly, and with the horses’ cooperation.
    RE the feeding strictures: horses and cats must be related. We had a cat that would complain loud and long until he had ice cubes in his water dish. I loved that fat cat…

  2. Terrapod says:

    The answer to your question on how societies functioned, the word is S L O W L Y. And that means at every step. Slow travel, slow communications, slow pace of life except when busting ass to grow or hunt food and build protection against the elements..

  3. Southern NH says:

    In general, most horses will be happier with more ‘chew time’ they get with eating hay, so that makes sense to add hay to meals.
    But the Rain Man horse, well I don’t know…. Some do seem neurotic at times. Many are set in the daily routine and get stressed if it’s changed. Mine were pretty calm about changes.
    Horsepower does require a different set of planning and work skills.

  4. no says:

    There’s an Autistic author (Temple Grandin) in Fort Collins who is convinced that animals ARE autistic.
    She teaches at CSU and consults with slaughter houses and other livestock facilities that are having traffic problems with their animals, and by walking the path that the animals take, is able to point out simple fixes, like more light, less reflections, no tight corners (gentle curves only), and so forth.
    There are some videos about her on Youtube and elsewhere.

To the stake with the heretic!