We need to talk about Presto’s ability to tell what day it is. Horses can’t really count, right? They don’t own calendars. They have no concept of days.
But Presto is equal parts adorable and creepy with his ability to tell which day is his ride day. We’ve settled into a routine where it’s always Sunday, unless there’s something special going on (like his Saturday trip to the XC facility). But, ya know… pretty much always Sunday. Sometimes I lunge him on Wednesday, and I usually bring him in and groom in on Saturday, but Sunday is his Funday (do horses classify being ridden as a “funday”? I dunno.).
Anyway, for the past many Sundays, he acts completely different than he does on other days. I always ride Henry first, since it’s cooler earlier in the day, and then go get Presto. And on Sundays Presto has taken to coming up to the fence and staring intently at me, from the second I start untacking/bathing Henry, right up until I come get him. Like he leaves his friends, comes to the fence, and straight up STARES at me. For as long as it takes until I come out there to retrieve him. As if he knows it’s his day and his turn is next. But horses can’t know that… right?
Once I noticed that he was doing this, I started to pay more attention to what he does on his non-riding days. During the week he pretty much never pays me any mind. He will come up to the fence by the arena and watch me ride Henry for a few minutes sometimes, but he never does the staring-at-me-and-standing-by-the-fence-as-soon-as-I-dismount thing. I go out and give him cookies on most weekdays, so if there were days where you’d think he’d be stalking me, it would be those. I don’t even halter him, I just walk out and give him a cookie and leave. But no… on those days he’ll usually walk up and meet me halfway, but he’s never waiting for me and watching me. He doesn’t do it on his Saturday grooming days either.
So I started thinking, okay maybe I’m doing something different on Sundays and he’s picking up on it. But… no. I’m at the barn a little earlier than I am on weekdays, but the same general time as Saturdays. I always ride Henry first. There’s nothing different about my routine between the days that I can figure out.
So how the heck does he know? What’s cluing him in to the fact that yes indeed, it’s his turn next? Or is all of this just completely random coincidence (that’s happened at least 5 times in a row now, since I’ve noticed) and it just so happens that he picks his riding days to display this behavior?
I mean, I’m not complaining. At all. I think it’s really cute that he clearly wants so badly to come in and do stuff and go on adventures. My heart grows 3 sizes each time I catch him staring at me and demanding I come get him. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t enjoy it. But still, it’s a little odd. The practical side of me says it has to be coincidence of course, right? How the heck would he know? But after so many times in a row… I’m not so sure.