It was Saturday evening around 7 PM. My husband and I were both tired from a long work week. And we were hungry since we hadn’t eaten yet.
Had to feed the horses first.
When we turned down the lane we could see our little band at the far end of the pasture, close to the road. They were happily grazing and doing horse things, whatever that might be.
The good news was they weren’t in the far, far, far part of the pasture, which is where they’ve frequently been these past few days. That’s how I’ve logged all those extra steps on my pedometer.
So on this Saturday evening the horses were in line with the gate, but at the other end of the pasture. In other words, not in shouting or whistling distance, but we could see them.
As we drove toward the pasture, on a complete lark, my husband honked the horn. He gave it a couple of toots.
I shot him a look known to most married couples.
Loose translation: What in the world are you doing? Have you lost your mind?
He just smiled. (A tactic known to married men.)
That’s when the miracle occurred.
No water into wine or the face of the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing so religious.
But I tell you this: At the sound of the horn, all five of those horses raised their heads, looked toward the gate and took off in a dead run toward us.
We were flabbergasted.
I glanced at my husband, who was looking quite smug, and just shook my head in disbelief. “When did they learn to come when you honk?” I asked.
“Beats me,” he answered. “I’ve never tried it before.”
People train horses to come to a variety of sounds. Some shake a feed bucket. This works well in a small enclosure. Others whistle or call, which sometimes works for us. And some honk.
It’s a Pavlovian thing.
Hear the sound.
Get a reward.
Next time come for the reward when you hear the sound.
This “honk to call the horses” tactic isn’t news to farm folk. They’ve been doing it probably as long as they’ve had vehicles with horns.
But it’s new to us. That’s what made it so much fun.
Who says you can’t teach an old horse new tricks? Bud and Pepper and crew beg to differ.