Do you think you could get out of the way of a bolting horse?
If you said ‘yes’, you would be wise to rethink it through. The first thing to know is that horses are preyed on animals. Were you aware of this fact? It is one of the most important things to ever remember about horses if you are to work around them. It could mean the difference between being seriously hurt by one or being horse smart. A wise man told me once, “A horse can kill you if he wants. He can kill you if he doesn’t want.”
Another way is by his being ‘jacked up’. This means he is excited beyond good thinking. Often it is cooler weather with the wind blowing all around that has him feeling extra full of himself. Unfortunately it may be the result of too much feed and not enough exercise. This results in what is called a ‘hot horse’—full of rich feed and not enough exercise to burn it. Either way, they are dangerous and need a horse-smart experienced handler.
One of the ways he can kill if he doesn’t want is by bolting. A bolting horse is a scared horse, and he is getting ‘out of Dodge’, so to speak, as fast as he can. For all he knows his very life is at stake, and in his mind that is all that matters. If there is something or someone in the way, too bad. They can bolt faster than most people think. I have read up to 45 mph.
So what do chickens have to do with it? Well, our chickens are free-range. As a result they hang with the horses a lot. The horses stir up bugs as they walk and graze.
Chickens are no dummies. How can they be when they are on nearly everyone’s lunch menu? They have keen eyesight. Yet, a bolting or excited horse is faster than the chicken.
How do we know? Three of our free-range chickens have been injured by our bolting horses. Two of those three died.
This comes with the territory, but is hard just the same. It is also an excellent reminder to us to be ever mindful of what is going on around our horses. Our farm motto:
Safety First. Beauty Second.