Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1096834

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Page 133 of 148

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 103 Another time, they found a bay gelding with a dog leash fastened tightly around his neck. e leash was so swollen from rain, they couldn't unbuckle it. ey were finally able to work it off after they got him to eat out of their hands. e Slones were relieved when the Kentucky Humane Society removed the last of the horses from Ruff-N-Tuff in early December 2018. Lori Kane Redmon, CEO of KHS, says keeping track of feral horses in eastern Kentucky is complicated. In 2017, KHS counted 500. "I suspect there's many more than that," she says, mentioning the possibility of an aerial survey. Karen keeps telling owners that this has to stop. She's frustrated. "I'm not doing this no more," Slone says. "ere is a stud horse up there. e person (who released it) has been told several times. I told people, 'is is going to come to an end.'" e next horse she sees, she's going to put it under a "stray hold" — an order beginning the 15-day period a stray horse must be kept before it is re-homed. It's the first step toward having a horse legally removed. "ey're not gonna stay up there," she says. In the round pen that first day of train- ing in Shelbyville, Mary Rose takes Rocky's interest in her as a good sign. "I love how he's looking at me. He's kind of licking and chewing, and he's thinking. Sometimes these wild ones, they immediately turn their head from you. ey don't want anything to do with you," she says. Many horse trainers watch for licking and chewing as a sign of progress. Like Mary Rose, they associate it with thinking or learning. But animal behaviorist Sue McDonnell, who founded and leads the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Vet- erinary Medicine, says that's not what's going on. Studies show that licking and chewing is what mammals do when a stressful moment ends, she says. Imagine you're speeding down I-64 and, suddenly, blue-red police lights bloom in your rearview. You take your foot off the gas, preparing a defense. e moment the patrol car flies past, that moment of relief — that's the lick-and-chew, she says. In the moment of fear, your mouth went dry; when you're no longer in trouble, saliva flows. at's what happens to the horse when fear abates: saliva flows, they lick, they chew. Rocky stands quietly until Mary Rose rais- es the flag again, sending the stallion trotting in the opposite direction. When he glances her way, she drops her arms, relaxes her posture and Rocky stops, still watching her every move. Step by slow step, she's building a connection with the frightened stallion, teaching him a language he can count on, a way to know what's expected, a way to find a link to her — the scariest thing around right now. Mary Rose's ultimate goal is to bond with this nine-year-old horse who has ample reason to mistrust humans. Working in her favor is biology, says Wendy Williams, author e Horse: e Epic History of Our Noble Companion, a fascinating exploration of horse behavior and evolution. Horses have a strong propensity to bond, Williams says in a phone interview from her home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. "at's biologi- cally driven. It doesn't seem strange to me at all that the propensity to bond would be transferred to humans. Why wouldn't it be? It is with us the other way around. We don't feel comfortable without having other beings around, not just humans but dogs, cats, horses," she says. Rather than the old idea that humans selectively bred wolves or horses, shap- ing them into pet-able docility, research suggests it probably worked the other way. Dog ancestors were attracted to our rubbish piles, then turned on the charm. Humans might have created conditions that made horses see some advantage in our company, too. "Maybe humans harvested grasses that provided food in winter," Williams says. It's impossible to say exactly when or how that happened. e earliest evidence of horse domestication comes from Central Asia, she says. In 2009, research- ers discovered mare's milk residue in 5,500-year-old pot shards in Kazakhstan. But chances are, humans and horses found common interest much earlier. "If you look at the French cave paintings…some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, you can see human beings had an intimate knowledge

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