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Is this affectionate behavior?

Hi Franklin,

I just found your website today and have already read many articles on it. It is a very useful and informative site. Thank you for creating such a site for old and new horse owners alike. I have a question about the horse that allowed me to bring him to my home (I bought him, but he chose me). Below, I will give you a short background.

I had never owned a horse in my 52 years until February, but had grown up around horses. We bought and boarded a Dutch Warmblood with our trainer/rider. This horse, a 10 year old gelded TW/SSH named Ready (in the attached photo) came to the barn in February to be sold. He looked a mess. The first time I ever saw him, I called him Scruffy.

He had the most gentle disposition and kindest eyes. Everyone at the barn became attached to him, including me. I had no intention of ever buying a horse to bring to my home to groom, feed, ride or care for, but when I was told in May that Ready would be going back to his owner's home, I could not fathom the idea. I went to the barn, talked with Ready, and asked if he would like to go home with me. He actually shook his head up and down 3 times then began to lightly kick his stall door. I bought him that day. Ready has taught me much about horses and continues to each day. I groom him in the pasture (he loves the outdoors) and when he has had enough, he is allowed to leave the area. I can think of no bad vices he possesses, except he nips me with his lips (teeth closed) and I can not help but draw back when he does this. He is so loving and giving. If I had the time, I would spend the entire day out with him. At this time, he is the only horse in the pasture, but we are looking to buy another horse, not only as his companion, but for my husband to ride. I am in the process of re-learning to ride.

Long story, short, my question involves an embarrassing issue to ask about (at least for me). Every I go out with Ready to talk, groom, pet and/or just be around, he hangs his penis out, either part way (with the sheath fully stretched, but no private part showing) or with his private part fully showing. Could you tell me why he does this? Is this normal for a gelding? Is this a show of affection?

Thank You in advance for any info you can provide and for taking the time to read my email.

Sincerely, Jamie

Hi Jamie,

I kid my girlfriend about her horse extending his penis when she grooms him and pets him, all the time. Your email prompted a humorous discussion about petting our animals and their responses to our touches and affection. My girlfriend is very horsy and a lifetime horse person. She is a bit embarrassed about her horse's showing (extending) his penis when she is with him. She has had the horse for 16 years.

First off, this is normal. I think showing physical affection (i.e. stroking, petting, rubbing, grooming, messaging, as well as simply touching) has a fine line between a simple 'feel good' experience and sensuous one. A feel good experience is a sensuous one as it involves our senses. If we get a little 'turned on' by someone's touch, even an innocent touch not meant as a sexual contact, I think it is a fact of life. Simply getting a tad turned on by someone's touch, I think, is part of nature. Dogs obviously get a bit aroused being petted most often. So, why shouldn't a horse get a bit aroused being groomed? It doesn't mean we have to do anything about it, including being embarrassed. It is a fact of life, nature if you will. We are adults and can take a mature and compassionate stance and attitude about it. That's my take on it.

Perhaps some folks would make a big deal out of it and be so embarrassed as to not discuss it. . But, I think it is only a big deal if we make it one. Good question and a common one actually.

Sincerely, Franklin

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