Sunday, August 1, 2010

Glare Power

Today when our hay guy was delivering a new round bale, he happened to arrive when Shadowfax and Ziggy were still in their stalls finishing their morning grain. Due to rain and mud and such, we had been several days without a round bale. Although we had been throwing flakes from square bales into the pasture several times a day. It's just not as satisfying for the critters as standing around the round bale and munching down. So all the critters were very excited to see a new round bale arriving. The donkeys and goats gathered around the truck anxiously awaiting their first bites from the new bale. They all very obediently backed off when I shoo-ed them away so the bale could be rolled off the truck. But as soon as the bale hit the ground, they descended upon it like four legged locusts.

This was too much for Shadowfax to bear locked in his stall. He started pawing at the gate. As soon as I heard that unmistakable clang, I turned and yelled, "NO! Stop that!" Shadowfax was standing there with one foot raised and about to paw at the gate again. From about 50 feet away, I just glared at him and he slowly lowered his foot and stepped back from the gate. I said, "Good boy." and turned back to help get the wrapping off of the round bale and put the bale ring around it. I kept expecting to hear him start pawing again. He doesn't paw that often anymore, thanks to Foxfire and I consistently yelling at him whenever he does it. But when food is involved he sometimes forgets his manners. However, he never pawed again, and when I would glance back at him, he was always standing quietly looking longingly towards the round bale but showing no signs of incipient pawing. Apparently, even from 50 feet away, my glare has enough strength to make him behave. Glare power!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! Brings to mind several things I've heard over the years about using body language to communicate with animals. Essentially, I guess it is the same communication they use and different animals understand it between species. Sometimes the wrong body language at the wrong time with the wrong type of animal can be disastrous, (like unintentionally threatening a bear by yelling and showing teeth) but used the right ways like you did, if it apparently most effective. I would love to be able to learn more about this. I don't have any experience using it, but it could be a really useful skill to develop!