Always knowing which way is home, working out whether an electric fence is on or off and spitting out wormer after convincing you they’ve swallowed it. If you think your horse or pony is particularly clever, you may relate to several of these...
1. Having an inner sat-nav
You explore local woodland for hours at a time and, realising you’re lost, drop the reins and let your pony take you straight home.
2. Only eating the good bits
Refusing to eat feed with medicine in it and no amount of garlic powder can deceive them. You might attempt hand feeding a small tablet mixed with cubes, only for the tiny tablet to remain in your hand but the rest has gone.
3. Good at opening gates
Walking into a gate to see if it will move. If it does, they push harder so that it opens and stroll through. Useful, you think, until said pony learns to open their stable door or the slip rails on a field fence, allowing them to wander around at their leisure.
4. Wise to worming
Standing quietly to be wormed and lulling you into a false sense of calm, but then refusing to swallow the paste — or making you believe they have, only to spit it out when you leave the stable.
5. Sneaking into the feed room
You accidentally leave the door open and once you’re out of sight, your pony sneaks in, lifts the feed bin and tucks in. They hear you running back having realised your error and retreat before you get there.
6. Sussing electric fencing
Listening for the click — and ploughing straight through the fence line when they can’t hear one. When they’re wearing a rug they might take their chances anyway, because they know the rug will protect them from the shocks.
7. Having an internal body clock
It’s feed time, they’ve run out of food or they’re bored of being indoors and they can hear your voice — cue banging on the stable door. As they age they do it less, usually because they’ve taught the pony next door to bang instead.
8. Removing their own headcollars
Leaving a headcollar on in the stable is a no-no, because they make a point of hooking it on the latch, pulling and breaking it. Normally just to make a point.
9. Picking up on your mood
Sensing when you’re in a bad mood and immediately putting their ears back too. You either have to cheer up, or go and be miserable somewhere else.
There's one thing that you can count on
If you want to keep up with the
10. A good judge of character
Number nine extends to knowing whether you like a person or not, too. If you don’t, your pony isn’t prepared to be their friend either, prompting ears back and teeth bared.
11. Meeting fences right every time
Arriving at the best take-off spot for every single fence — your job is only to kick — and giving it no more than one inch clearance. They rarely knock a fence down either.
12. Knowing when to behave
As cheeky and mischievous as they can be on the ground, they are super-safe to ride. When someone particularly young or inexperienced gets on they naturally know to be on their best behaviour.
We continue to publish Horse & Hound magazine weekly during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as keeping horseandhound.co.uk up to date with all the breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions (six issues for £6) and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.