Snow Horse

For millennia, equines galloped across the steppes of Asia. About 5,000 years ago they began to live in concert with humans. Soon people couldn’t live without them and horses spread with us across the globe. We began to selectively breed horses to make them even more useful and amenable for life with us. It wasn’t that difficult. There’s a reason that we ride horses and not antelope. Horses are peaceable herd animals that form deep friendships. Horses bond not only to each other, but to other species. Like us. They are built for traveling, have a back that can carry weight, and can find forage in a wide range of places. It took a few thousand years, but horses became stronger, larger, faster, and more suited to the tasks required by humans. The domestic population surged, the wild dwindled, and now there are no truly wild horses left in the world. (Herds out west are feral, not wild.) Recent DNA research confirms this. Even the Przewalski horse is descended from domesticated species.

Still, there is something of that wild steppe equine in our modern horses.

Does Tonka have an ancient memory of snow-covered Mongolian plains as he makes his way around the paddock?

elbow deep


The horse’s head is designed to shovel down into the snow, the upper lip wagging back and forth to push snow away, looking for hidden grasses.

nose shovel


Wild Horse.

snow nose


  1. This is why I start off my day with HenCam! (And I bet I am not alone.)

    • Thanks, Judy. I go to bed, and I wake up, thinking about what I will write about in the morning. Because I focus on these good moments, I see more of them, and so my world is enriched because I write for all of you.

  2. He is such a beautiful horse! Here’s a crazy question I have always wondered……you see in the old westerns horses galloping for miles… long can a horse gallop without harming him?

    • The answer depends on the horse :) Some are built for speed, some for distance, and some just to be pasture potatoes. But, in all cases, one must care for their feet, feed them properly, and only ask for what the animal is capable of doing.

      • Thank you….when you trotted him in the ring yesterday how long did you ride?

        • When I ride in the indoor, and work on gymnastics and various lessons, it’s for about an hour. The workout is varied, and there’s walking on a long rein to stretch out and relax during the ride. One of these days, the trails will be clear of snow- and then we get out for two hours or more.

  3. 95% of the day logged onto hencam so I can watch and read whenever I can ( perk of being retired ). All the best to all of you watching and a big thankyou to Terry and extended family.

  4. I start my day with Hen Cam too. Love all of the cams and post. I live vicariously through this site since I can’t have hens, goats, horses, or rabbits. Thank you Terry for sharing a wonderful adventure everyday.

  5. Good Morning Everyone. I always think somewhere deep down animals have a sense of where they are from and their roles. About seven years ago we rescued a husky, she is quite a character. But I remember watching the Winter Olympics and they were showing dog sledding. Yuki sat up and watched the entire documentary on dog sledding and I could not help thinking that in the back of her mind she was feeling like she should be part of that pack.

  6. You can add me to the list….. :) Who` could possibly not love Tonka`s `snow-face`?? I will be thinking of him all day now.

  7. i’ve never really gotten to know a horse – i wanted ones o badly when i was a kid i knew i’d better just not think of them – and didn’t. of course, then when i grew up i had to farm. i even intended to. by then i loved cows and had my own herd of guernseys and then i did get my girl a pony. they’ve been a lifelong passion with her and that’s been satisfying of course to me. but now. . . a horse has become somewhat a mystery to me. i feel my toes hurt when i get around them – don’t horses step on your feet? do they really like you? my cows liked me. my chickens knew me. i’ve never been liked by a horse but there’s the donkey that lives by my house and i love him – he seems to like me but he’s afraid of me sometimes too are donkeys like horses ? or the other way around.random thoughts while i’m cleaning house and need breaks – i will send this anyway. would appreciate a response

    • I’m not worried about a horse stepping on me, but when I’m around a cow, their big feet make me nervous. I guess it’s just knowing your animal. Donkeys are quite specifically donkeys! :)

  8. Thanks for the photos! I eagerly check for new posts daily! I loved your comment, about some horses are just “pasture potatoes”! Did you make that up?!!! Ha! Love it!

  9. I love this! Tonka look a little bit like he’s being silly to make you laugh. It made me laugh! :-)

  10. Everyone else is in bed, Phoebes holding on till the very last minute as usual, she seems to love the snow. My granddaughter adores Tonka, the snow pictures are great.

    • Pip and Caper keep going up and down to the fence as if they are looking for Phoebe to say goodnight!!!

  11. Best. Ever. Reminds me of how they say that cats are not domesticated. They enjoy their partnership with man but go wild when they walk out the cat door. Does Tonka like popsicles?

  12. I was wondering do the the inside arenas for horses allow them to dust bathe in cases where they can’t outside ? Or is that a no, no ?

    • Horses don’t need dust bathing like chickens do. People groom their horses to keep them feeling good. Horses do like to roll, in the winter, Tonka rolls in the snow.

  13. Hey Terry, thanks for all the great posts and info. I came here for the chicken info but am also really enjoying the animal behavior posts. Have you seen the video from Turtle Ranch with clips of all of the (Budweiser)Clydesdale training they have done for the Super Bowl ads? Its cool to see. Of course I wanted more info & less cheesy soundtrack, but it’s still neat. You can hear the clicker.

    • I haven’t seen that video. Am glad to hear that the trainer uses kind methods. I went to a seminar on liberty training (by someone who also trained the Clydesdales) and after hearing him say “this is a good way to punish a horse” several times, I left.

      • I just watched. Obviously effective training to get those complex behaviors. Fascinating to see how they broke the behaviors down and how they film them. The trainer does not use a clicker to mark the moment of good behavior, which is how I train. I did hear a clicker, but it seemed to be used more as a cue or as a sound prompt. I also heard whip cracking, which is often used in liberty work, both as a cue and as an instigator of behavior. I did see food rewards, which is good.

  14. I’m glad you weren’t horrified by their methods :) Horse training has come a long way & it sounds like what you’ve been learning is at the forefront.

  15. Just logged in, 10am uk time, glad girls are all feathered up and not molting your temp says 4f which is -15.55c here. Keep warm hope you don’t get to much snow on Monday showing quite a lot on weather. lol

      • Terry, just done my egg count for January 78 very pleased as only 5 of my 6 girls are laying. 2 Magpies (crossbreed), 2 Rhode Island Reds. 1 Buff Sussex and 1 Welsummer (which I call ” welly “, but youngest grandaughter insists on calling ” wellyboot “. Welly has not laid since last May when they all had a big scare, she went into a molt for about 3 months then autumn/winter set in. She looks very good, eating, drinking, pooping fine, no lice or mites, seems happy. Hope she will start again in Spring miss her egg. All girls are 20 months old if that makes a diff. Would appreciate your input. Thanks.

  16. Your horse is beautiful! Thanks for posting great photos & info. Keep warm! 46 Days until Spring!!! :)