Rider to Rider: What’s Your Horse’s Funniest Quirk?

Practical Horseman readers share the strange, endearing qualities that make their equine friends so unique.

In the August issue, Practical Horseman readers responded to the question “What is your horse’s funniest quirk?” We got lots of great answers, and not all of them fit into the magazine. Here are more!


My retired Appendix Quarter Horse gelding, Trooper, loves Pepsi?he’ll tilt his head and stick his mouth out so you can pour it in his mouth. He can tell the difference if you try to give him Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and so on, as soon as he sees the can. Pull out a Pepsi can and he’ll just about knock you down trying to get it. He also “smiles” (flehmen) after he drinks it (and after he gets any kind of treat.) He’s a ham.
Janet Garner Turner, Virginia

My horse likes to nap every day after lunch.
Laura Sicuro, Texas

When I pull my horse’s mane she braces for every tug by arching her neck and stiffening up her front legs. Then when I do pull, she “jumps” and stomps her right foot, almost like she is shocked by what just happened. She does this for her whole mane, not just the first few chunks!
Terri Zenz, Minnesota

I’ve always referred to my OTTB as my “other man,” but when my husband first sat on him and my normally gentle-under-saddle boy immediately launched him, we realized that all that time, my husband knew about the horse, but the horse didn’t know about the husband. Even two years later, Sunny would plant his feet and refuse to even walk under saddle for my husband, but goes willingly for me.
Khristeena Lute, Tennessee

?Beasley the Wonder Horse wears a smoking jacket and reads Tolstoy. All kidding aside, I think the funniest thing Beasley does is his trick amnesia. Beasley knows a repertoire of tricks. I’ll ask him to shake hands, nod yes and no, smile, put his foot on a pedestal, all the while, he’ll stare at me dully. Then I produce a single luscious horse treat and suddenly his amnesia lifts and he runs through his tricks in order before I even ask for them.
June Evers, New York

My gelding yawns non-stop when he receives a massage treatment from me and licks his lips post-chiropractic treatments.
Janet Law, Ontario

My Thoroughbred mare has a few. She likes to play and get the other horses she is out with to run around. The barn owner was telling me she looked out at the mare’s field, saw the other two mares but not mine. She counted to 10 and then my mare came running out from behind the trees, spooked the other two into running around for a few minutes. Once they settled back down to eating, my mare went back up under the trees. The barn owner counted to ten again, and there came my mare! Spooked the other two back into a run and raced around the pasture again.
Laura Spear, Oregon

My mare was born with a very underdeveloped right eye and, as a result, is blind on that side. However, she’ll still turn around and “glare” at me with her “not an eye” eye.
Elizabeth Bross, Pennsylvania

My 5-year old Paint gelding has a sandy patch he lays in right outside my back door around midnight every night. Sometimes I go out and just sit with him rubbing his ears and petting his back and just recently he decided it would be delightful to roll flat on his side for a nice regular midnight belly rub! His other favorite thing is his method of eating a round bale. He will dig out a hole bite by bite until he has made a cave in the center! My late mare would lick my cheek clear up the whole side of my face on a regular basis. Also, if you hold the soft brush in front of her, she would get closer to it and brush her own face.
Alicia Kaye Tucker Brown, Florida

My mare will always start doing yoga stretches when the farrier comes. And then she will act all innocent as if she did nothing. Another thing she does, is, she knows that if she stretches her neck down and puts it in between her front legs, she’ll get a carrot, so she will do that, even when you’re just taking her blanket off! She ALWAYS makes me laugh!
Johanna Oberhauser, California

My late horse Louis wouldn’t dare to go through water if anyone was on him. After it would rain he would go in the pond and literally splash around. If Louis wanted a treat, he would nod his head “yes” until he got what he wanted. He would also give kisses. One time, he got a tiny cut on his rear and you would have thought he broke his leg. Definitely the funniest horse I’ll ever own. My new horse Alexander is a character too. He’s 17.2 hh so when he doesn’t like something, he will put his head straight up in the air so we can’t reach him. Also, when I am grazing him and decide to lead him elsewhere, he will put out his left front leg in protest, and do this until he is close to doing the splits!
Kaylee Knapp, via Facebook

My Hungarian Warmblood mare can go from having an absolute airs above the ground melt down spooky fit to standing on the sidelines schmoozing and sleeping in about two minutes ? and back again if necessary! Her on/off energy button works extremely well!
Pamela Nelson, via Facebook

Turn up the sound for this video, courtesy of sales team member Hunter Messineo.

A previous horse would sell her soul for green grapes, even if it were only one.
Barbara Bird, via Facebook

Southwind likes to hold his own leadrope. Don’t know why. He’ll fidget around while being groomed or saddled, but hold up the lead and say “Here, hold yourself” he’ll take the leadrope in his mouth and just stand and wait. He has lots of funny quirks, but that’s the one that I think is the cutest.
Cindy Craig-Kirk, via Facebook

My Thoroughbred gelding Sam is very oral. He loves to hold and carry things in his mouth. He will take a water bottle out of your hand and insists on have the end of the lead rope in his mouth – which reminds me of a dog carrying keys.
Linda Myers, via Facebook

Zak needs to lick after every treat he is given, preferably my arm, hand, shirt… Neck once, yuck.
Cathy Jacobs Moshier, via Facebook

Duece, my North American Holsteiner gelding licks my hand with the bottom of his tongue. I don’t know why, but if I stood there all day he would do that like a dog.
Heather Fisher, via Facebook

My gelding’s funniest quirk is probably his show-ring entrance. He’s a 16 year old jumper guiding me through the 1.20-1.30 meter ranks and he has quite a personality. I usually enter at a gallop to get him in front of my leg and then halt to wait for the buzzer and ensure he’s listening.? At this point he’ll usually decide to hop up and down off his forelegs, sometimes just balancing on his back legs for a few seconds (but not rearing…he just sorta pops his front end off the ground). It’s pretty amusing and? harmless…he only does this at shows and I think it’s just pure exuberance because he seems to love his job. I figure the day he goes into the ring and doesn’t do this little dance, it’ll be time for retirement. Until then, I love my quirky old guy and everything he’s taught me about riding.
Kristin Kenney, via Facebook

When I started my mare, she would check that both of my feet were in the stirrups once I’d mounted. If they weren’t, she would refuse to move. Turn into stone. Only after I’d put the offending foot in the stirrup and she’d turned to check it and touch with her nose would she then move forward. Safety first, I suppose!
Jacque Wiley, via Facebook

My mare turns on the water taps and night and floods the paddocks. The property owner had to build a special lockbox over the tap!
Julie Johnson, via Facebook

Whenever he gets a peppermint or sugar cube or eats his grain, he sucks his tongue, by sticking it out. He is letting me know this is soooooo great and he’s making the favor last!
Debra Hatfield Bedia, Colorado

Kessa is an eater?of anything. She has eaten plastic bags that had treats, clips out of my hair, zippers off my jacket and she even ate a glass bulb off the Christmas wreath we hung on her stall. She seems to digest these things just fine (fortunately) since she doesn’t seem to plan to give up the habit anytime soon.
Joyce Johnson, Connecticut

She loves to drink Code Red Mountain Dew and eat ice cream Drumsticks.
Susan Stanford, Wisconsin

My horse likes to nip me in the rear end when I pick out his front feet. I don’t think it’s very funny, but everyone else thinks it’s hysterical!
Colleen Britton, Michigan

My horse nips at me every time I brush his saddle area – we have a running dialogue – ?don’t bite me’ – and he tries to do it over and over. Probably amusing to watch. Never any harm intended of course, just horsey fun.
Mary Savage, New Jersey

My horse’s most funny quirk is that he thinks he’s a “tough guy,” until someone takes his pasture mate away for work. Skip, a 13 year old QH gelding, doesn’t really pay attention to his friend, Buddy, and likes to boss him around. When I take Buddy away for a ride, Skip has a really high whinny (like a girly horse) and he runs/bucks/neighs for his friend to come back. When I finally put Buddy back, Skip comes running and then stops short, as if to say, “Oh, it’s just you again.”
Anna Smegal, Minnesota

She sings for about the first 10 minutes we ride and sometimes in the middle of our ride when she starts getting tired. It is like a high-pitched moan. She has a BIG personality.
Erin Udell Bryan, Maryland

My horse is very careful to poop in one exact spot in his stall and will contort his rather large body as much as possible to do so! Also, when in the cross-ties, he loves to pick things up in his mouth, toss them down on the ground and then look at me like, “How did THAT get down there? Pick it up!”
Andrea Stegman, Connecticut

A mare where I worked had a horrible temper. She was so dangerous we couldn’t leave the top half of her stall door open because she would charge and grab people. One day I was grooming her and she kept tipping her head toward me, like she wanted to be scratched. I finally figured out that she loved the insides of her ears rubbed. She’d get all lovey and stand there forever getting her ears rubbed, and even passed the love of ear rubbing on to her son!
Shannon Dove Crosby, New Jersey

Making funny faces to look cute and get treats. He also steals hamburgers: When people walk past him eating one he will reach out and grab it.
Sammi Brown, Ontario

Friday, my Welsh/Quarter Horse-cross pony, sucks his tongue after he gets any sort of treat?from horse cookies to root beer. He sticks his tongue out about an inch and sucks on it until he has fully enjoyed his treat. He has been known to do this for 10-15 minutes.
Martha Gustavson, California

Scarlett, my Quarter Horse mare loves to have her face licked by her best friend, Sammy, a Rottweiler/Basset Hound mix. Every time I let him out, she runs to the fence, hangs her head over it and waits for him.
Melinda McClain, Missouri

My horse, Toby, will usually stroll to each phase of our events on the buckle with floppy ears. But on the way BACK from each phase (including cross-country) he performs all manner of shenanigans?cantering in place, bouncing up and down, shaking his head. We lovingly refer to it as the “Toby Shuffle,” and we think it is his way of saying, “I was awesome! Let’s get back so we can celebrate!”
Amanda Tamminga, Maryland

My Thoroughbred gelding insists on grabbing a belt loop on my breeches with his teeth and pulling (sometimes down) every morning while I am tacking up.
Courtney Henderson, Florida

I have noticed that my Halflinger, Mondo, whinnies when I’m dinking around the truck and trailer and seems bothered if I unhook the rig and just drive the truck away.
Chris Cole, Washington

When I get my horse ready to ride, I put him in cross ties next to Scout’s stall. If I leave something on the ground, even a foot away from his stall, Scout somehow manages to get his nose under the stall boards and steal it! I’ve lost brushes, a scarf, a whip and even a saddle pad. I kept thinking either I was really good at losing stuff or someone was taking it. It wasn’t until I walked past Scout’s stall after my ride one day and saw my scarf inside that I realized what was happening!
Jamie Lapin, Wisconsin

My horse is obsessed with having his face near mine, and he will rest his head on my shoulder or lick my face if I’m outside his stall.
Amy Rae, New York

To read more answers to the question “What is your horse’s funniest quirk?” see the August 2011 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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