General Question

Aster's avatar

Is it safe to pull off the road and pet a horse you don't know?

Asked by Aster (18577points) May 18th, 2017

So my ex and I were on vacation and he saw a pretty horse near the road behind a fence. Always oh, so affectionate, he got out of the car, walked up and pet the horse. Suddenly, the horse grabbed my ex’s arm and left it black and blue. My ex kind of chuckled and walked back to the car with a red face and didn’t mention it. Is this a safe thing to do? I think my ex wanted to punch the horse but had had enough of his teeth.

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29 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Apparently it’s not safe.

ragingloli's avatar

No. If I was the horse, I would have kicked him, hard.

Aster's avatar

@ragingloli you would have kicked him hard for showing affection? Anyway, the fence would have prevented a hard kick that is , unless horses are now kicking down wood fencing.

ragingloli's avatar

For being an approaching unknown and assumed hostile.

ragingloli's avatar

How would you react if a stranger walked up to you and started touching you?

Aster's avatar

I think I’ll stick to the question. I’m not bored.

janbb's avatar

If you know horses like someone like Coloma does, you could probably read the signals the horse sent out as to whether they were approachable or not. If you don’t have that knowledge, it would be safer not to do it or to approach very cautiously. The same goes with dogs although they usually come attached to owners whom you may query.

Darth_Algar's avatar

To answer the question: it is always flagrantly stupid to attempt to pet any animal (regardless of species) you do not know.

gorillapaws's avatar

Horses can kick out fencing. Horses can kill you with a kick. Horses have many different personalities/temperaments. I would never assume anything about a strange horse’s temperament. I would never advise touching an animal you don’t know unless you’re with the owner or you’re taking special precautions.

Also if the owner saw this you might get yourself shot. There are parts of the country where suspicion runs high and people are just looking for an excuse to pull out their AR-15s.

Aster's avatar

@janbb thank you.

LostInParadise's avatar

Given the horse’s attitude, I am surprised that it even allowed your ex to get close. What would have happened if he approached but did not pet the horse?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Aster's avatar

@LostInParadise I guess we’ll never know.

Coloma's avatar

Horses give off clear body language, most obvious, if you know horses, is ear pinning, a sign of an unhappy or annoyed horse that just may lash out with a bite or a kick, like the horse in this video. Always approach a strange animal of any species with caution.
Watch what happens to this guy. The horse showed great restraint, bit him with the bars of his mouth, the toothless space between the incisors and grinding molars where the bit rests.

Had he wanted to he could have crushed that guys arm like a twig. Watch closely for the ear pinning that the guy ignored as he approached the horse.

NomoreY_A's avatar

Only if you want to get rear ended by some speed demon, or kicked in the teeth by an angry horse. I wouldn’t advise either one…

canidmajor's avatar

It is never safe to approach a strange animal like that, especially one who is soooo very big! He’s lucky he wasn’t hurt worse.

Am I having some dèja vu? Have you asked this before?

CWOTUS's avatar

No one else has asked, and I think that it’s important and germane to the conversation to ask “Where did he pet the horse?” (and I don’t mean “next to the fence”). Maybe the horse wasn’t into petting – I don’t know of any who are, but I don’t know any horses at all, so that should not surprise anyone – or maybe its S/O was looking on, and the horse had to put up an appearance of not wanting the petting.

Maybe the horse was unhealthy, or unhung. Or eating, like … you know.

kritiper's avatar

Generally it’s safe. But with animals you don’t know, anything is possible.

Zaku's avatar

I don’t think the “never pet an animal you don’t know” wisdom always applies. I think I’m about 996/1000 for not having bad consequences for offering to pet cats I don’t know. And the bad consequences were just a mild swat, usually after they got too excited from too much petting. I don’t pet dogs I don’t know nearly as often, but I think my results with them are almost as high and with no damage suffered.

Maybe “don’t pet an animal if you don’t have any idea how to read it’s reaction”.

lugerruger's avatar

I’ve pat a lot of random horses in paddocks and it’s never ended badly, but I think you should definitely be cautious approaching any animal you don’t know. Especially an animal as potentially dangerous as a horse. It’s good the horse didn’t do any more damage than that.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
kritiper's avatar

Sometimes horses get bad habits and it can take a lot to change them.
A childhood friend had a horse that didn’t like to go for a ride near night-time and the horse would always turn around and haul ass back to the barn. And that was that, as far as I know.
Grand Dad, who broke horses in his youth, once told me of a horse he came across that would take to bucking when the rider hit the saddle. No one could break him of it. But dear old Grand Dad said that he could do it. So the horse was saddled and Grand Dad got ready for the ride. But first he armed himself with a sizable length of 2X4. Grand Dad got on and the horse did his thing, but only for a moment. Grand Dad swung that 2X4 and clobbered the horse right between the ears, knocking the horse to the ground. When the horse stood back up, Grand Dad was still in the saddle and still armed with the 2X4. The horse swung his head around and took a long, long look at the 2X4, and never went to bucking again.
I watch the horse’s ears when I’m around one. If they lay their ears back, to me it means they got something on their minds and it probably isn’t going to be nice, and it’s high time to get away form it.

Coloma's avatar

@kritiper Most of the time when a horse acts out is due to fear or pain or traumatic conditioning, not bad temper. Maybe that horse had an ill fitting saddle, his cinch was pinching him, or a sore back, a cyst, a spinal injury or, he had had a bad experience in the past with pain under saddle and was conditioned to buck. Thank god now days any reputable horse person/trainer is going to look for the reasons behind a horses behavior and not clobber them over the head with a 2×4. The horse that didn’t want to be ridden near dark may have had developing vision problems or, he was conditioned that it was almost his dinner hour and didn’t want to miss his feed or he was just barn sour or had attachment issues to a buddy that he didn’t want to leave.

Many horses form attachments to their buddies and feel worried and insecure when taken out alone. All of these issues can be mitigated without resorting to clobbering the poor animal over the head. Horses do have long memories and abusing them does nothing but create more problems for the owner and the horse. Sad how badly these animals have been and still are treated at the hands of ignorant assholes.
There is ALWAYS a reason for a horses behavior, just like any other animal or human.

kritiper's avatar

@Coloma I knew that.

Coloma's avatar

@kritiper That’s good, I was just expounding on my own sentiments, experience.

kritiper's avatar

I would never think of hitting some animal with a club to teach it a lesson. Shoot the SOB between the eyes with a gun, yes, but I wouldn’t hit it with a club…

PullMyFinger's avatar

Instinctively, it seems to me that it’s MUCH safer than trying to pet it without stopping, but…..that’s just me…..

Coloma's avatar

@PullMyFinger Haha, I think drive by petting might be illegal.

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