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Re: [RC] Advice on Mountain Lions - k s swigart

From: Sisu West Ranch ranch@xxxxxxxxxxx

I don't know about your horses, but all the geldings I have
?ridden have been?trained to chase dogs and their kin, but
?still want to boogie at the first whiff?of bear.? 

The only times I have encountered a bear in the wild, the horse just stopped, 
we looked at it, I pushed the horse forward, and it too disappeared into the 
brush (although not quite as quickly as the moutain lions do).? Additionally, 
up in Big Bear there is a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that goes right 
past a bear sanctuary (w/in about 10 ft--and, ironically, one?of the attendants 
got killed by one of the bears there last year).? I have, on several occasions, 
seen the bears stand up to get a better look.? The horses will sometimes look 
over and say "what is that?" At which time I can tell them "ignore it, it is 
behind a fence" and they do.? When we rode past it at night (it was on the last 
10 miles of the Big Bear 100), all the horses did was look over as we rode 
by--even the ones that had never been past it in the day light.

As far as my horses are concerned, the sum total of their experience with a 
bear is that it is something that is big and dark brown and it moves (a 
description, mind you that applies to a UPS truck as well).? They have no 
reason to think that a bear is any more of a threat than a UPS truck.? I do not 
believe that horses "instinctually" know that bears are a real predator.? 
Horses instinct in the wild dash away from anything that moves until it is 
proven a non-threat; domesticated horses, however, can pretty easily be trained 
not to do this.

If your horse hasn't been attacked by a mountain lion, then it doesn't know a 
mountain lion from a mule deer (big, tawny, and moves really fast). If your 
horse thinks that there is a difference between a mule deer and a mountain 
lion, it is probably because YOU think there is a difference and are 
communicating that to the horse.

My horses grew up out to pasture on the side of a mountain on the edge of the 
Cleveland National Forest and consider pretty much anything that moves to be 
fair game as they had to run off bob cats and coyotes (that I know of)?from the 
very start.? As a consequence, when they are loose and unattended, they will 
chase anything that crosses their paths (dogs and domesticated cats as well as 
chickens; although they do ignore rabbits and ground squirrels).? But even the 
ones that haven't grown up out to pasture mostof them have been pretty easy to 
train to move towards something they might first consider to be a threat.? (I 
have one or two that are more difficult to convince of this...and those?? They 
perceive even a white rock to be a threat that they won't get a step closer to 
unless?somebody else?goes first).

Orange County, Calif.

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[RC] Advice on Mountain Lions, k s swigart
Re: [RC] Advice on Mountain Lions, Sisu West Ranch