Can horses smell death or freak out by it?

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by MelissaH, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. MelissaH

    MelissaH Senior Member

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    Today I pulled up to the arena at the barn to see one of the Cattle Dogs running through the fence with some sort of leg in it's mouth. A goat leg or maybe a deer. It was about two feet long. I got out of the car and the smell it me. The smell of death. The dog ran the leg over to the far right side of the arena, dropped it then picked it up and ran off. I asked Hannah is she could smell it and she said no. I have one of theose super sniffer and can smell things no one else can. As we walked away the smell disappeared but it was definatley around the car and near that side of the arena.

    So I tacked up Amante so Hannah could ride him in the arena. As soon as she had him going towards the side where the car and smell was he changed. He became in high alert and balked at going over there. I grabbed his halter under his chin and walked and let go and clicked, then he stopped and spun around. He was freaked out at something. So she took him to the other side and when she was going to the area the dog had dropped the leg he freaked and balked. I was several feet away watching them. He started to breathe real hard, you could see his sides going in and out, ears up and nostrils flared but no snorting. Hannah told me to hurry and come over because he calms down and I am near. I went over and his breathing went back to normal. He follows me when she drops his reins and lets him go where I go. I clicked and walked him back towards the car. He went right with me and we inched closer. The whole time very alert. Then I decided to click again and we left the arena. He got a short ride.

    Could have the death smell been the thing that threw him off his game. He seemed so spooked by that which was not there. I got pictures...yes I took advantage of "the look" lol.

    Amante before he discovered the smell...or whatever was bothering him....
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    and after, you can actually see the worry

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  2. Jess!

    Jess! Senior Member

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    I've been told that yes, of course animals can smell death. However, it depends on the animal how they will react to it.

    I've had horses who have refused to go near a dead rabbit, and then I've had horses who will walk over a dead coyote and not blink. :)
     
  3. MelissaH

    MelissaH Senior Member

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    He would not get near that smell. But the dog was in one of the stalls with another horse trying to bury the leg in there. That horse could care less.
     
  4. Appylvr

    Appylvr Senior Member

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    Amante looks great!!!

    I believe they do... but some are probably more apt to react to it.

    Mine don't seem to be too bothered by dead things. I was walking up a trail once and thought there was some kind of carpet in the trail up ahead. Thought it would be a good training experience to have Teak go over it... didn't see until we were almost on top of it that it was some kind of dead animal, flattened... Teak put his head right down trying to sniff it, I had to make him leave it.

    Another time my dog found a rotting rabbit carcass and started carrying it along with us... pretty nasty... the flesh was just falling off as she carried it until she just had the spine. Thankfully she dropped it after I was yelling at her for awhile. The horses didn't seem to care though
     
  5. mistysangel0

    mistysangel0 Senior Member

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    I think they can...
    When I'm riding Dilly, and we come across something dead, especially deer ( we have A LOT of hunting) he starts getting really really upset, fidgety, and will not go near it.. he really does not like it and gets very upset
     
  6. HorseCraze120

    HorseCraze120 Senior Member+

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    I think it depends. I know when horses pass away they give off some type of hormone that other horses can smell, and I heard that scent that they smell can linger up to 3 months. One time I was riding my old mare, Willow, and we saw a dead deer, and she was VERY nervous around it, and not her typical self at all
     
  7. mistysangel0

    mistysangel0 Senior Member

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    I think that when one of their "herd" dies they know.. When we had to put Destiny down the horses were whinnying to her and getting upset.. but when we had Koti die, in his stall ( he went down and couldn't get back up) and the horses were all in the barn, they didn't even seem to notice.. horses are weird.. at least my horses are weird lol
     
  8. TrailBlazer

    TrailBlazer Senior Member

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    I believe they most definitely can smell death, whether it is another horse or other animal. I know when trail riding I have come across newer and older carcases and my Mare always acts differently.
     
  9. LoveMyHorsyyyyy

    LoveMyHorsyyyyy Senior Member+

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    During summer break a horse in the barn got put down because he was old and had horrible pain in his legs. Half the horses didn't do anything different. My horse in the round pen was so freaked out she fell down (she wasn't hurt).When we went by the horses stall (he was already put down and taken away)My horse was snorting, staring, not blinking, and had an arab tail. (shes a quarter horse)
     
  10. EquineVet09

    EquineVet09 Senior Member

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    Horses do have some in tune smeller or something.
    When I did my internship at littleton, we had the "Death Pen" A 4 sided "pen" that was fenced in where all the euthanasia were done.
    Any of the horses that we walked by there to do the hourly walks would get a little hesitant to walk over there or try to jig away.
    Defiantly something there.
     

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