Monday, April 12, 2010

Games equids play

Until I got Jethro, I didn't know the word equid - it includes the equine (horses) but also zebras and donkeys...

It took a while for Jethro the donkey and Superman the miniature horse to figure each other out. I think there was an immediate recognition of a fellow hooved being, but their temperaments are very different. Jethro is high strung, like me: he notices everything in his environment and has an opinion about it. Superman is stolid and troll-like. If he doesn't have to care about something, he doesn't. When he got here, the only thing in life that got him excited was dinner.

Then after a while I noticed the only time he EVER whinnied was when I took Jethro away for a walk. Although he never seems to notice anything but dinner, Superman doesn't like being alone. (He is always invited to come along on the walk but sometimes he would rather conserve his strength, standing motionless for hours.)

Now there is one more thing that gets him excited: he and Jethro have devised a game, the running chasing biting game.

Jethro always starts the game, even though he is also usually the loser. You know the game is about to begin because he
  • Looks at Superman, who's usually standing stolidly at his ease somewhere;
  • Lowers his head to Superman's height;
  • Pins his ears back;
  • Charges!
His long neck held low, head pointed, ears back, Jethro lopes after Superman, who starts out at a brisk little trot on his dwarfish little legs and soon is driven to a gallop.

When Superman gets tired of being charged, he suddenly turns and faces Jethro, who skids to a stop.

Now Jethro raises his head high and bobs it from side to side as Superman attempts to bite his jowls. Superman is short so he often has to rise up on his back legs to land his bites. After they stand and do the biting for a while, they take off around the pen some more.

Sometimes Superman bites the back of Jethro's legs. This causes Jethro to tuck his tail in very tightly under the area where his genitals used to be; then Jethro tries to sit on Superman's head to stop the leg-biting.

Lately Jethro tries to bite the backs of Superman's legs too - difficult because that's a long way down for him. Then they go in circles as each tries to bite the back of the others' rear legs. It's harder for Jethro because Superman's turning radius is much tighter.

After a while they break out of the biting and go back to running all over the place. Sometimes one is ahead, sometimes the other.

Sometimes Superman rears up like the Lone Ranger's horse, with his mane flying, and gets his front hooves up over Jethro's back. Sometimes Jethro rears up too, but as there is no opponent up at that height, there isn't much point.

They really seem to like this game. Jethro never lands a bite at all, as far as I can see, though sometimes he gets a mouthful of Superman's mane and hauls him around that way for a little while. Jethro's neck is covered with scabs. Is this S & M entertainment?


At 5:39 PM, Blogger Alma said...

Halarious story! It seems they are basically oversized puppies.

I'm wondering if Superman's rockabilly bangs have grown out yet...

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like the kind of stuff dogs do, to establish who's the top dog in the pack. Do equid herds have a hierarchy, I wonder?


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