True Horse Stories


Jean Luc Cornille

Horse Trainer

Chazot Thoroughbred

Since our adventure outside, Chazot does not want to deal with the halter. I do not understand why the halter, since he was wearing the bridle when we went for a walk into the outside world. Normally, we are going through the same routine every morning. Good morning carrot and breakfast. Thirty minutes later, second series of carrot, halter, and then out of the stall to be prepared for the turn out. The day after our new world walk, Chazot vehemently refuted the idea of the halter. He was OK with removing the blanket, placing the bell boots and the wraps but not the halter. I let him go in turn out thinking that this might be related with his previous day’s experience. Sometime memories are following strange meanders. The same reaction persisted yesterday aggravated by a refusal to be caught the evening for his daily training. 

His thought process was going in the wrong direction and I decided that the halter story will end today. This morning, I offered him a choice. You want your breakfast; let me put your halter. We faced each other several minutes; breakfast – halter. No halter no breakfast. I had his breakfast in the right hand and the halter in the left hand. As he was elongating the neck for the breakfast, I advanced the halter toward his head. First tentative, he went at the other end of the stall. He came back for the breakfast refusing the halter again. At the third attempt, he elongated the head toward the bucket. I place the upper end of the halter around his nose. He kept the head in the same posture with his nose one inch from the bucket. I placed the halter above his head. He did not move one inch. I close the buckle under his neck, which was awkward form the left hand. Then he lifted his head and went directly on his feed bucket waiting for me to drop the breakfast. I did, patted him on the neck thinking; that was quite smart. He would have responded you welcome, I would not have been surprised. 

Even if their thought process is not always easy to understand, there are many instances where living with horses, we can observe that their level of intelligence is not comparable to humans but in their own way, superior to what humans think horses can process.


This story is part of the book that jean Luc is currently writing but since we are conversing about the meanders of the horses’ memory, we feel that the event narrated here is a good example. 

The Swans

Jean Luc COrnille

I did not know the horse at all. The usual rider, who was a friend, was out of commission and the owner asked if I could ride the horse hoping to qualify him for the intermediary level. The competition was a preliminary level three day event. On the cross country course, it was an oxer out of a wooden area and the landing was a drop. It was like a window opening on a large grassy area with a lake on the left side. Two swans were gliding peacefully on the surface of the lake. The next jump was at the end of the large opening. It was a right turn and a vertical over a ditch. From where we were when the incident occurred, the horse could not have seen the next jump. We flew over the oxer without hesitation and landed in perfect balance. The horse was in fact quite good. The next step, the horse stopped violently starting to rear and jump in the air while spinning. It was like he was suddenly becoming epileptic. In a few seconds he was in lather breathing frantically.

Thinking about tying up or neurological problem, I left my arm signaling to the judge of the jump that I was off competition. I dismounted the horse and try to calm him down walking back and forth. He did not showed any signs of muscular problem but his mind was out of control. I walked back to the trailer area. The horse was then recovering some calm and composure. I described the whole event to the horse’s owner and he was skeptical, as he never encountered such problem. The horse was recovering and in spite of a thoughtful examination, the vet could not find anything wrong with the horse. 

The owner asked if we could walk together where the incident occurred and we did. We stood in front of the jump, watching the large grassy opening with the lake. I was pointing with my finger where we landed and where the horse reaction started but the owner was looking over the lake. He then told like to himself, It must be the swans. He explained then that when the horse was a yearling at his farm, he has been attacked and in fact injured by two swans. The owner added then, the setting was almost identical with the large grassy area and the lake on the left side. The incident occurred when the horse was a yearling and he was eight years old at the date of this event. 

The meanders of their memories are sometime difficult to understand but from their point of view, their memories are as real as reality.

Jean Luc